Lemons Get Slice of Giant's Avatar Pie

Tuesday 22 December 2009, 6:59PM
By hairyLemon Ltd


Christchurch based web company hairy Lemon has scored another coup Stateside with the contract to build a website for Giant Studios, the company behind the stunning visuals in mega-movie Avatar.

Avatar is the latest project of movie maker James Cameron, the director best known for blockbusters like Titanic, Aliens and Terminator 1 and 2.

Avatar is his biggest budget movie yet, estimated at US$300 million, due largely to the extensive use of “performance capture” or “motion capture” computer animation to ensure the most lifelike animation possible.

Giant Studios are specialists in motion capture (mocap) for movies and computer games and are the technical geniuses behind motion capture scenes in Ironman, the Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean, I am Legend, Prince Caspian and the Mummy. More recently they have been working in conjunction with Spielberg on the movie of Tin Tin, and on Cameron’s Avatar.

The Christchurch connection to Giant Studios came via an initial chance meeting at LAX on one of hairyLemon director Graham Dockrill’s business trips.

“I was actually waiting for a flight and starting chatting to a couple of interesting looking people who turned out to be the owners of Giant,” he commented.

“That was about 12 months ago and in the meantime both (fellow director) Sue and myself have visited them several times in Los Angeles in the process of negotiating our business relationship with them.”

NZ web designers hairyLemon have built a site showcasing Giant’s movie and game creation work, which is timed to go live with the international release of Avatar on December 17th.

Graham and Sue have both indulged in a little celebrity spotting during their visits, particularly as director Steven Spielberg and Daniel Craig were working on Tin Tin at Giant during one visit, while James Cameron was directing Avatar next door.

hairyLemon are also further planning to further cement the relationship between New Zealand and Hollywood by funding a possible scholarship for a New Zealand animation design student to work as an intern at Giant.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to open doors for our talented young designers into the US movie industry, and a great way to build on the connections between our clients in New Zealand and our clients in the US.”

At this stage the scholarship is still being scoped out, but would potentially be offered to a design student from national design college Natcoll.