PHD, a one-stop shop “collective” founded by visual effects industry veterans John Hughes, Helena Packer and Kevin Donovan, has been launched in Los Angeles. Hughes is best known to the industry as one of the co-founders of VFX company Rhythm & Hues — he led that studio for 26 years. The company, which won three Oscars for Visual Effects (Babe, The Golden Compass, and Life Of Pi) also was heralded for creating its own proprietary software used to generate photo-realistic character animation and visual effects. That earned the company four scientific and engineering Academy Awards.
Rhythm & Hues Studios acquired visual effects house VIFX in 1999. Only a few years later, R&H laid off about 230 employees before it went into bankruptcy (2013) which then prompted a lawsuit from the Chapter trustee.
The new company from Hughes which takes its acronym PHD from its founders’ last names, is a full-service post-production house working across the genres of VR/AR, independent films, documentaries, select TV projects including limited series, and commercials, also offers clients live action production services. PHD also is based in Los Angeles but also has offices (and digital artists) in India, Malaysia and South Africa.
PHD is also working with some world class VFX artists including Kristian Schmidt (best known for his underwater work) and Vern Evans (known for soulful portraits).
Packer has been the Visual Effects Supervisor and Flame artist for hundreds of commercials and over 20 movies, including 21 Jump Street and Charlie Wilson’s War. Her expertise extends beyond feature films though with episodic TV, stereoscopic 3D, and animation.
Donovan is a film, TV and commercials director particularly well-versed in action and visual effects. He directed the feature film, The Tuxedo, and is currently producing the TV series What Would Trejo Do? Donovan has shot more than 700 commercials during the course of his career, and is the winner of six Cannes Lions. He has also filmed projects in Thailand, Romania, South Africa, Brazil, Hong Kong, Kenya, Spain, India, Taiwan, France, Canada, China and Tanzania.
From a client’s basic concept, what PHD does, essentially, is provide all related services, including live-action production (if required), all post-production, color grading, off and online editorial, visual effects, and final delivery.