RSP’s Tony Clark: Tribute to an Australian visual effects legend

Tony Clark, managing director of Rising Sun Pictures is an early pioneer who helped put Australian visual effects on the map; inspired a generation of visual effects artists and technologists; and, who innovated to solve common creative and technical problems that, in turn, catapulted the visual effects industry to be truly global.

An Emmy Award-winning cinematographer, Tony’s early career included roles with Australian national broadcaster ABC and Sky News in the UK, before becoming a cinematographer for independent films. Australians.

A keen interest in technology combined with a creative vision, led Tony to digital arts in Australia, where he helped create a unique real-time motion control system and shot his first feature film as a DP on the famous Australian producer/director, Epsilon by Rolf de Heer.

In 1995 Tony co-founded Rising Sun Pictures (RSP). On the back of Terminator and Jurassic Park, Tony’s motivation was to create a visual effects company that combined his two passions of art and technology, that could deliver visual effects from anywhere in the world. world ; in this case, his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, 12,875 km from Hollywood.

RSP worked on the first local computer-generated animations before their first big break in Hollywood. In 1999, Warner Bros.’ Red Planet, came to film in the outback of South Australia. A pitch to famed visual effects supervisor Jeff Okun ensued, and RSP got a chance to embark on his first Hollywood project. Tony and the team must have done something right, because Warner Bros. came back with a job on Queen of the Damned.

Anne Kolbe, executive vice president of visual effects at Warner Bros. Pictures, said of Clark, “Tony is a true innovator in the VFX community and a trusted collaborator. His knowledge and insight into the process of creating spectacular visuals, both technically and creatively, is unmatched.

Shortly thereafter, Paramount Pictures contracted RSP to re-enter the shuttle on The Core, which ultimately led to the lead character of Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web.

RSPs have always been early adopters, pushing the limits of what could be done with available tools and inventing those that were not, leading to the creation of new tools and several commercial projects.

Tony, himself, is credited with several VFX supervisor credits, including Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity.

Visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison (Thor: Love & Thunder/Jungle Cruise/Thor: Ragnarok) appreciates Tony’s collaborative nature, saying, “Tony is both a loyal friend and an incredible collaborator!” He’s always put together exactly the right team for each of our many collaborations – a highlight being the Valkyrie Flashback sequence in Thor: Ragnarok, something that’s consistently referenced as one of the finest images from that film.

Jake adds: “Tony’s experience as a cinematographer means that I can speak to him clearly in the language of cinema and it’s hard to underestimate the importance that years of experience in the field brings. The outside world seems to view visual effects as something that computers do. They couldn’t be more wrong, it’s 100% artist-driven. Finding the right artists for the project is something Tony is a master at.

RSP’s experiences working remotely from global production centers have led to many innovations. In 2000, Tony spearheaded the creation of Rising Sun Research (RSR) to commercialize the tools created within RSP. One of the first products, cineSpace, a film color management solution that was essential for matching visual effects with on-set photography, was acquired by Cinetal Systems and then THX in 2011. However, the main product of RSR was to become a global industry verb, ‘cineSync’. ‘.

cineSync was released in 2005 and enabled secure collaboration of synchronized footage. The adoption of cineSync was organic and immediate and has been used by all major filmmakers around the world.

RSR renamed Cospective in 2012 with Rory McGregor at the helm; Tony continued to serve as co-founder and board member and helped influence its development. In 2011 Tony, alongside Rory McGregor, Neil Wilson and Alan Rogers, received an Academy Scientific and Technical Award for creating cineSync. Cospective was acquired by ftrack in 2019.

Wanting to improve high-speed internet access for Australian filmmakers, Tony created Cinenet in 2004. This elastic broadband network allowed Australian content providers and filmmakers to move huge files between Australia and California . In 2015 Cinenet was acquired by Superloop and Tony was seconded into a non-executive director role which he continues today.

Tony has been a vital member of Australian Boards, including a role with the South Australian Film Corporation between 2007-2012, Ausfilm between 2009-2021 and Royal Instuitute of Australia (RiAus) 2016-present.

Netflix Director, APAC Studio and Production Affairs Debra Richards, who worked with Tony when she was CEO of Ausfilm from 2011 to 2019, reflected on Tony’s contribution to Ausfilm’s Board of Directors: “Tony Clark is an extraordinary, passionate and talented innovator, mentor and advisor. who has built an award-winning global business proving it can be done from anywhere in the world and staying true to his beloved Adelaide.

“Tony is a tireless and invaluable advocate for the company, the team, the work and the industry, whether with colleagues at Ausfilm, the studios, government film agencies or decision makers across the world. political spectrum – to ensure that the Australian screen industry remains globally competitive from pre-production through to post-production. It is a pillar of the industry and if this business was sporting code, he would be elected “immortal” of the game!” said Richards.

He served on the board of Ausfilm alongside Animal Logic co-founder and CEO Zareh Nalbandian. Tony played a pivotal role in leading the efforts and initiatives for the creation of the federal Post, Digital, Visual Effects (PDV) compensation (tax incentive) to support Australian competitiveness in the global marketplace.

After successful lobbying, the Australian government announced 15% PDV compensation for location-based and offshore PDV projects. Tony served on the board of Ausfilm until 2021, supporting the evolution of Australian incentives to their current form.

Tony’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit was recognized in 2018 with the Pearcey National Entrepreneur Award. The award recognizes his inspirational leadership, innovation, praise and impact on the world stage.

Commenting on Mr Clark’s victory at the time, SA Chair of the Pearcey Foundation, Susan Andrews, said: “Tony Clark is an outstanding founding entrepreneur who over the past 20+ years has taken big risks business, contributed to several important global innovations and continued to grow with passion. the computer graphics and film industry in Australia and South Australia – all with exceptional humility, a sense of fairness and a commitment to giving back to the community.

Former CEO of RSP and CEO of Culture Amp, Didier Elzinga says of Clark: “I had the pleasure of growing up at RSP. Under his guidance, I grew from junior system administrator to composer, supervisor and eventually CEO of the company. CineSpace and cineSync were both born because Tony came to me and said ‘Do you think we could build this?’.

“He has an uncanny gift for seeing what could be and then the intelligence to bring it to life. Lessons that have all helped me grow Culture Amp into a multi-billion dollar business.

In 2021, RSP became a member of The Fuse Group (Fuse Group brings together three industry-leading visual effects studios: FuseFX, FOLKS and Rising Sun Pictures and is a portfolio company of investment funds managed by EagleTree Capital). Commenting on the sale, Tony said: “RSP has been a private company for 26 years and it was time for us to enable its future success and facilitate its growth. Our partnership with The Fuse Group and EagleTree Capital will allow us to become a bigger and better version of ourselves, reach our full potential and create a future for the next generation of talent. I’m excited to see where this is taking us and the opportunities that come with it.

Tony’s vision remains on a long-term strategy for the organizations he is involved with and adapting the industry as a whole as he returns to his entrepreneurial roots. RSP invests heavily in machine learning and Tony is keen to fulfill The Fuse Group’s mission to create the next generation of visual effects installations.

About RSP, Tony says, “RSP just keeps getting better – the talent, the work, the technology of the tools and the collaboration – the quality and complexity we get is incredible. In the early 2000s, I couldn’t imagine that RSP had more than 30 people. Now we have over 250 and by the end of 2022 we will have another 50, spread across 2 studios with the opening of our Brisbane office at South Bank.

There is a boom ahead for the global industry as film production continues to intersect with similar industries and this excites Clark, “Filmmaking is at an important point in its evolution, with the huge demand for content, user experience and rapid advancements in technology, the next ten years will see an industry that has largely transformed, and it really excites me to continue leading this journey.

About Rising Sun Photos
Over the past two decades, Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) has thrilled and inspired audiences around the world with award-winning visual effects by creating some of Hollywood’s most memorable screen moments. RSP’s reputation and leadership make it a trusted partner for studios and filmmakers around the world. Its studios employ more than 230 exceptional crew members who enjoy the benefits of living in some of the world’s most livable cities. Additionally, RSP is dedicated to developing the next generation of visual effects artists through its unique accredited training program delivered in partnership with the University of South Australia. Recent works include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Cowboy Bebop, Hawkeye, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Candyman, and Mortal Kombat. RSP is a member of the Fuse Group.

About Fuse Group
The Fuse Group brings together three industry-leading visual effects studios: FuseFX, FOLKS and Rising Sun Pictures. The company employs more than 1,200 people in ten studios around the world. Fuse Group is an investment fund holding company managed by EagleTree Capital, a New York-based private equity firm.

Briana R. Cross