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Prana Studios Buys Bankrupt 'Life of Pi' VFX House Rhythm & Hues

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 29, 2013 at 7:27PM

It's official. A Los Angeles bankruptcy court judge has approved the acquisition of visual effects and animation studio Rhythm & Hues, which did the VFX for Oscar-winning "Life of Pi," by a wholly-owned affiliate of LA-based Prana Studios, Inc. Many VFX houses these days are beleaguered by price-gauging studios and overseas competition as layoffs are rampant and VFX practitioners talk about starting a union.
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Life of Pi, glow

It's official. A Los Angeles bankruptcy court judge has approved the acquisition of visual effects and animation studio Rhythm & Hues, which did the VFX for Oscar-winning "Life of Pi," by a wholly-owned affiliate of LA-based Prana Studios, Inc. Many VFX houses these days are beleaguered by price-gauging studios and overseas competition as layoffs are rampant and VFX practitioners talk about starting a union.

After a two-day auction, Judge Neil Bason approved winning bidder  34x118 Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Prana Studios, a U.S. animation and visual effects studio based in LA and Mumbai, India. This partnership will allow R & H to continue creating "world-class digital imagery,” said Jeffrey A. Okun, Senior Vice-President, VFX, Prana Studios. "While remaining a stand-alone company focusing on cutting-edge visual effects and innovative technology, R&H will be complimented by Prana’s world-class long-form animation.  Our complimentary talents and relationships will create a new, best-in-class one-stop boutique provider of digital imagery to clients globally.  With the additional support of our strong investor group, we are confident R&H will continue to be the innovative quality leader in our field that they’ve been for 30 years.”

34x118 Holdings Inc. is the new operating company that acquired R & H's assets. Allan Soong of Deliotte CRG will serve as Chief Restructuring Officer of the new operating company, and will work with Lee Berger as President, Erika Burton as Co-President, and Gautham Krishnamurthy as CTO to restructure the operations. “This is a positive outcome to a difficult situation,” said Berger.

El Segundo-based Rhythm & Hues's 145 screen credits include Oscar-winners for VFX "Life of Pi," “The Golden Compass” and “Babe" and has also won four Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). R & H also has offices in Mumbai & Hyderabad India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Vancouver, Canada; and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Prana Studios, Inc. is a full-service 3-D animation and visual effects studio with production offices in LA and Mumbai. Prana is a U.S. company founded in 2003 by Arish Fyzee, Kristin Dornig and Pankaj Gunsagar, and is backed by investors Anand Mahindra (Mahindra & Mahindra), Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries), Naren Gupta (Nexus Capital), and Ram Shriram (Sherpalo).  Jeffrey A. Okun is Sr. Vice-President of Visual Effects.

Prana Studios, Inc. is an anchor venture investor and partner in Kidaptive, an innovative educational technology company dedicated to smart storytelling on iPads.  Current projects include the upcoming "Planes" theatrical release for the Walt Disney Company (Aug 2013), the animated feature film "Legends of Oz" (Spring, 2014 release), "Pourquoi j'ai (pas) mange mon Pere (Pathe 2014), Percy Jackson 2 (20th Century Fox), and "Saving Santa" (Gateway Films 2013).

Major credits include "Secret of the Wings", "Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue" and “Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure” (Walt Disney Studios), "Hitchcock," (20th Century Fox), "The Watch," (20th Century Fox), "Tron Legacy" (Walt Disney Studios), "Transformers, Dark of the Moon" (Paramount Pictures), "Thor" (Paramount Pictures), “Tinkerbell” (Walt Disney Studios), “The Chubb-Chubbs Save Xmas” (Sony Pictures Imageworks/Sony Pictures Animation), “Hoodwinked” (The Weinstein Co.), Unstable Fables (The Weinstein Co./The Jim Henson Co.), among others.


This article is related to: VFX, Life of Pi


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.