(Beijing) When the Finnish legend Ilmarinen swings his fabled blade in the animated 3D feature THE SAMPO, behind the scenes bringing the Nordic characters to life will be a team of skilled Chinese animators working side-by-side with a team of European industry experts, including the director and screenwriter.
To realize this multi-national production, the Northern Digital Film Company Helsinki Ltd. (NDFC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at SIGGRAPH 2011 with Chinese animation house Crimson Forest VFX/Animation Studio (CFX) to co-produce the full-length animation feature. SIGGRAPH is the world’s leading annual industry conference on computer graphics, motion picture, animation and video games.
The story is based on the famous Nordic legend Kalevala – a series of epic mythologies dating back over 3,000 years from the hinterlands and kingdoms of ancient Finland.
THE SAMPO is budgeted at USD $10m and will be released in the first quarter of 2014. The movie will be released with a complete set of games and interactive social media for all major platforms. It will feature the latest CGI technology to help bring one of Europe’s oldest and most powerful myths to life. THE SAMPO has received support from The Finnish Film Foundation and the first distribution agreement was signed with FS film for Finland.
The NDFC chose their partner carefully – the story of Kalevala is one of Finland’s most important tales, and has also served as an influence for J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion works. In the manner of all epic stories, the tale pulls at heartstrings and emotion as the hero battles his foes, himself, his people, and the one he loves.
“In Crimson Forest VFX/Animation Studio (CFX) we found a partner that we could communicate with flawlessly, and who also has the experience combined with the enthusiasm that will help launch what we hope is a series of animations based on the Kalevala legends,” explained Kare Hellén, CEO of NDFC.
Jon Chiew, the General Manager of Crimson Forest VFX/Animation Studio (CFX), explained that “this is the perfect project to show our 3D technology and abilities as there is a huge demand for stereoscopic films in the market now.”
The story is an adventure and fantasy tale, evolving around the life of a young blacksmith who cheats death to find he has special powers. The amulet he forges, “The Sampo,” brings with it not only fame and power, but also intertwines him in an epic battle of kings and kingdoms.
Crimson Forest VFX/Animation Studio (CFX) COO and animation team leader Andy Chen, a veteran of Dreamworks and the US animation industry, said, “This is the perfect film to show our capabilities – from the original storyboard and art concepts all the way to 3D stereoscopic application and final renderings. It is a pleasure to work with the top flight team and show them the quality and speed we are capable of.”
Kare Hellén, the CEO and founder of NDFC, is the concept creator of THE SAMPO and Publishing Director of the games. He has 15 years experience in computer animation and game production.
Jan Wellmann, Executive Producer for the film, notes that “THE SAMPO is a timeless coming of age story about man’s inner transformation; it has enormous worldwide commercial potential because of it’s ability to transgress cultural and demographic boundaries – which is also reflected by the composition of the unique production team.”
Director Kari Juusonen is known for Niko and the Way to the Stars, a €6.1m animated feature released in 16 countries, and Niko 2. He is a recipient of the Prix du Jury for Cannes Short Film. Writer Leo Viirret has worked on over 20 features, including Jade Warrior. He is a recipient of the Venla Award for International Dramaturgist.
Crimson Forest VFX/Animation Studio (CFX), is currently finishing up its first full-length feature animation, the Bull Brothers, slated for domestic release in 2012. The 90-minute film features the voices of Hong Kong heavyweight actor and singer Andy Lau, starlet Shu Qi, as well as veteran actor Zhang Guoli and singer/actor Wilber Pan, among others.
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