Take a glance at RISE‘s resume and you’ll find some of the most successful films and TV series of the past few years: Avengers: Endgame, Shazam!, Stranger Things, Captain Marvel, Dumbo, The Fate of the Furious, and so many more.
Not bad for a studio that started out of a small garage 12 years ago. RISE has truly embodied its name, growing to employ more than 100 permanent staff across Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, Munich and a fifth facility that will soon open in London. It’s also a team that is clearly in high demand, given the scale of the projects it regularly juggles.
While RISE works with clients the world over, its offices are entirely based in Germany. Studio co-founder and VFX supervisor Florian Gellinger admits, “We’re not getting clients dropping by in-person very often!”
That’s no problem, thanks to Cospective’s cineSync. RISE uses the remote video review tool day in and day out to connect and collaborate with clients anywhere and everywhere, with synchronized viewing and real-time annotations effectively removing the distance between them.
RISE started out of that garage in 2007 with a pretty loose aim: “We thought it would be a cool idea to work on German indie films and TV series,” recalls Gellinger. Their hard work quickly led to one big break after another. After working on Ninja Assassin, the film’s VFX Supervisor, Chris Townsend, recommended RISE as a vendor for Captain America: The First Avenger.
Since then, RISE has since worked on the majority of Marvel Studios productions, including the aforementioned titles as well as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the studio.
The last year in particular has brought RISE an array of compelling, memorable projects. For Captain Marvel, the team built cities with huge skyscrapers and cityscapes that wrap around a planet, including a subterranean area with immense light shafts in sight. “The amount of rendering time this took was insane,” says Gellinger. For DC’s Shazam!, the highlights included full-body CGI replacement for actors when flying, as well as a destructible CG model of downtown Philadelphia.
Gellinger is especially proud of what the team did for the recent third season of Netflix’s acclaimed horror show, Stranger Things:
“We were brought on quite late, during the last three weeks of production, to create a whole host of CG,” he explains. “We turned people into hamburger meat with their skin dripping down the bones, we threw a CG car through a shopping mall, and all of this was completed in a very short timeframe. It was an intense turnaround, but it all looked great.”
“It’s incredibly reliable”
No matter the project, large or small, RISE relies on cineSync to keep in touch with clients and ensure that they are always on the same page. In the thick of things, with many projects on the move, Gellinger says they’ll often have several cineSync calls with clients in a single day.
“All of our communication is done by calls—we have between two and 10 cineSync sessions running a day with various clients from all parts of the world,” he says. “All of our facilities are using cineSync for client communication—it’s just the standard, and everyone knows how to use it. cineSync never misinterprets colour: what you see is what you get, and it just comes naturally to the production process.”
Gellinger praises the real-time annotation tools, which let all participants draw atop both video and still images to highlight specific areas of the frame, as well as the overall accessibility. cineSync isn’t difficult to use, whether you’re at a workstation in the studio or checking in on a laptop from essentially anywhere in the world.
“We’ve given it to directors that are not natural VFX artists, and on their regular laptops, they can pull files from our FTP site to review shots that they may have missed in post-production while abroad. They set it up and use without any problems at all,” he says. “It’s essentially foolproof, as long as both parties have the same files—you just drop the files in and you’re ready. It’s incredibly reliable 100% of the time.”
RISE has used cineSync on every Marvel Studios project it has worked on to date, including recent blockbusters Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel. According to Gellinger, cineSync is an essential tool for reviewing all kinds of shots and work.
“It’s really universal, for every shot you complete. For example, on shots with blue/green screen and foreground/background comps, where you can just discuss edges and whether it’s been comped correctly,” he says. “At the same time, you can discuss timing and animation, you can talk about staging and scene layout, all as if you were in the same screening room together.”
Staying busy—and connected
RISE also has a film production company, and recently shot its first live-action film, Stowaway, starring Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, and Daniel Dae Kim by director Joe Penna. It’s been a nice challenge for the studio, which is not only co-producing the sci-fi film but also building its visual effects. RISE’s virtual production setup lets the team previz with a virtual camera and begin shooting with a partial set, providing intriguing new creative methods.
The studio has grown significantly over the last decade, but Gellinger doesn’t envision RISE ballooning to an enormous size. “We don’t have plans for expanding rapidly and becoming a giant studio,” he says. “We’re already pretty well staffed, enough to take on the big jobs and several smaller ones. As long as the projects given to us are rewarding and challenges us, then I’m super happy.”
Given its pedigree, there’s no doubt that RISE will stay in high demand well into the future—and cineSync will be there along the way to aid in the creative and collaborative process.
“Everyone has become so familiarised with the tools that there are never any problems using the software to discuss work—everyone expects to use cineSync,” he continues. “There may have been a moment years ago where cineSync was new, but that was a long time ago. It’s an absolute no-brainer now: no matter the shot, you just drop it in.”