Type {{{company_type}}}
Founded 1987

<tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Industry</th><td>Visual effects, CGI animation</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Website</th><td></td></tr>

Rhythm & Hues Studios is a visual effects and animation company that received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1995 for Babe, in 2008 for The Golden Compass, and in 2013 for Life of Pi. It has also received four Scientific and Technical Academy Awards.[1]



Rhythm & Hues Studios was established in Los Angeles, California in 1987 by former employees of Robert Abel and Associates (John Hughes, Pauline Ts'o, Keith Goldfarb, Cliff Boule, Frank Wuts and Charles Gibson).[2] The company uses its own proprietary software for its photo-realistic character animation/visual effects—as well as for those that are more stylized. In 1999, Rhythm & Hues Studios acquired visual effects house VIFX from 20th Century Fox.[3]


By the time Rhythm & Hues began to work on the 2012 Ang Lee film, Life of Pi, the company had become a global one with offices and artists in India (the Mumbai suburb of Malad and HITEC City which is a part of Hyderabad), Malaysia (Cyberjaya just outside of Kuala Lumpur), Canada (Vancouver), and Taiwan (Kaohsiung).[4][5][6][7][8][9] Artist Abdul Rahman in the Malaysian branch underscored the global nature of the effects process, saying that "the special thing about Life of Pi is that it was the first time we did something called remote rendering, where we engaged our cloud infrastructure in Taiwan called CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects)".[10]

The R&H VFX (Visual Effects) Supervisor Bill Westenhofer said that discussions of the project began with Ang Lee in August 2009.[11][12] Westenhofer noted that Lee "knew we had done the lion in the first Narnia movie. He asked, 'Does a digital character look more or less real in 3D?' We looked at each other and thought that was a pretty good question."[13] He also stated that during these meetings, Lee said, "‘I look forward to making art with you.’ This was really for me one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on and the first chance to really combine art with VFX. Every shot was artistic exploration, to make the ocean a character and make it interesting we had to strive to make it as visually stunning as possible."[14] Rhythm & Hues spent a year on research and development, " building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation" to develop the tiger.[15] The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine suggested that, "Life of Pi can be seen as the film Rhythm & Hues has been building up to all these years, by taking things they learned from each production from Cats & Dogs to Yogi Bear, integrating their animals in different situations and environments, pushing them to do more, and understanding how all of this can succeed both visually and dramatically."[16]

However, a short time after Life of Pi was released, Rhythm & Hues Studios filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, on February 11 2013.[17] Around 254 people were laid off at that time.[18] This led to a demonstration of nearly 500 VFX artists who protested outside of the 2013 Academy Awards, as Rhythm & Hues was nominated for an Oscar (which it won) for Life of Pi.[19] Inside, during the Oscars, when R&H visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer brought up R&H during his acceptance speech for Life of Pi, the microphone was cut off.[20] This started an uproar among many visual effects industry professionals, changing profile pictures on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to show the green key color, in order to raise awareness for what is happening to the effects industry.[21] In addition, director Ang Lee was heavily criticized by the community for not acknowledging their work in the effects-laden film in his acceptance speech (when he seemed to thank just about everyone else)[22] and for earlier complaining about the costs of visual effects.[22][23]

On March 29, an affiliate of Prana Studios, 34x118 Holdings, LLC won the bidding of Rhythm and Hues in a bankruptcy auction.[24] The sale was "valued at about $30 million".[25]

In May, the El Segundo headquarters building was sold for $25 million to real estate developers who will turn it into a campus for companies.[26] At the same time, the Malaysian unit became an independent "stand alone entity" (now known as Tau Films) as it was not part of the sale.[27][28]

Life After PiEdit

In February 2014, Christina Lee Storm and Scott Leberecht released the documentary Life After Pi to YouTube.[29]The documentary details both the reasons behind the bankruptcy as well as the general difficulties faced by the visual effects community. It contains a number of interviews with former Rhythm & Hues employees including co-founders John Hughes and Keith Goldfarb. Bill Westenhofer also discusses his experience at the Oscars as he accepted a Visual Effects award for Rhythm & Hues' work on Life of Pi. [30][31][32][33]

Selected filmographyEdit



Academy Award for Best Visual EffectsEdit

BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual EffectsEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. Prana Studios Buys Bankrupt 'Life of Pi' VFX House Rhythm & Hues
  2. Rhythm & Hues Looks to Finish ‘Seventh Son’
  3. The Hollywood Reporter (1999-03-03). "Rhythm & Hues Rounds Up Vifx". Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  4. A Glimpse of Rhythm & Hues (Asian Facilities) Work on Ang Lee's Masterpiece, 'Life of Pi.' "
  5. Making of Life of Pi: In Conversation with R&H
  6. Rhythm & Hues Taps NVIDIA Technology for Life of Pi. Animation World Network, November 26, 2012
  7. A First Mate Bares His Fangs: Creating a Tiger for ‘Life of Pi’. The New York Times, November 16, 2012
  8. Rhythm & Hues Makes Skies Soar, Computer Graphics World, November 27, 2012
  9. Malaysian team behind special effects for Life of Pi and Snow White movies
  10. "Local touch to Life Of Pi", New Straits Times, November 26, 2012
  11. 'Life of Pi's' digital magic. Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2013
  12. EXCLUSIVE: Life of Pi's Stunning Effects. The Daily (News Corporation), November 26, 2012
  13. How "Life of Pi" animators visualized Ang Lee's blank slate. Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2012
  14. "Life of Pi: a tiger's tale", Fxguide, November 26, 2012
  15. Vfx team dares to take tiger by the tail. Variety (magazine), December 15, 2012
  16. Video essay: The animal menagerie of Rhythm and Hues". British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine, December 21, 2012
  17. Variety (2013-02-12). "Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy reveals vfx biz crisis". Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  18. Rhythm & Hues gets $17 mil loan from Universal, Fox
  19. [VFX protest at Oscars: images from the picket line + audio interview]
  20. "Biggest Oscars snub: A shark attack on the VFX industry". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Pulver, Andrew (February 26, 2013). "Ang Lee under fire from visual effects artists over Life of Pi speech". London: The Guardian. 
  23. Giardina, Carolyn. "Oscars 2013: VFX Artists Blast 'Disgraceful' TV Moments". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  24. "Two-Day Roller Coaster Ends Delivers L.A. VFX Studio to Indian Owners". Variety, March 28, 2013.
  25. "Rhythm & Hues finalizes sale to Prana Studios". Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2013.
  26. Developers buy Rhythm & Hues' ex-headquarters in El Segundo
  27. Global Showbiz Briefs: Chello Zone Goes ‘Hardcore Pawn’; Karlovy Vary Celebrates Schatzberg; R&H Malaysia Goes It Alone
  28. Rhythm & Hues Malaysia to fly solo under new identity
  29. Life After Pi (Official Video)
  30. Documentary Chronicles Bankruptcy of Visual Effects Firm Rhythm & Hues
  31. Revealing ‘Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi’ Doc Exposes Grief, Anger and Troubled Business (Video)
  32. YouTube Documentary ‘Life After Pi’ Chronicles Collapse of Rhythm & Hues (Video)
  33. 'Life After Pi,' doc on fall of visual effects house, to debut
  34. NEWS/ Life of Pi Wins Best Visual Effects Oscar
  35. 35.0 35.1 Best Visual Effects
  36. BAFTA 2013 Winners
  37. BAFTA 2007 Winners

External linksEdit