The Film Department at top post and visual effects company VHQ have recently completed another post production work for a film produced by Alibaba Pictures in China.

The movie “Once Upon a Time” is one of the first major Chinese films to be released by Alibaba Pictures, and was the directorial debut for Zhao Xiaoding, a long time Director of Photography for the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Both recently collaborated on the film “The Great Wall”.

This film tells the story of an epic and tragically fated romance between two deities, Bai Qian and Ye Hua. Played out over several lifetimes to transcend time and eventually becoming a true legendary story. The original novel was recently adapted into an enormously popular TV series in China which led to the box office success with CN¥530 million sales since its release in August internationally.

The project had a very particular style requirement which presented a unique set of challenges to VHQ.

“Coming up with solutions to these was exciting and ultimately rewarding for the whole team. We were not only challenged artistically, but technically, having to put in place many new workflows and procedures to manage this style of project,” said Dayne Cowan, VP of Films Department, VHQ Singapore.

Over 600 shots were delivered by VHQ for the film. The work included a small green creature called “Migu” who appeared throughout the film as Bai Qian’s familiar. We also worked on all of the Heavenly Palace sequences, the ice cave where Ye Hua was entrapped in an ice coffin, the enchanted forest, and the villager to animal transformations. One of the largest continuous shots created was the title sequence which involved a full CG forest and animals, including Bai Qian’s transformation into a fox. This shot was over 2000 frames long, and required many months of work.

Relying heavily on the strong senior talent, leadership and collaboration across the VHQ offices in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, many of whom were exposed to the Hollywood movie market, it ensured the successful delivery of the entire project.

The movie is currently playing in Singapore, Malaysia, Beijing and throughout Southeast Asia at all leading cinemas.

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