In the last fifteen years the VFX industry in Norway has exploded. More and more studios and international production companies are looking to Norway for VFX services.
Torgeir Sanders is a CEO & producer at Gimpville. His company has worked on movies including the World War II drama Gold Run, Knights of the Zodiac and the epic Norwegian action-adventure film Troll, one of Netflix’s most watched original movies in history.
Sanders says the industry has changed considerably since they established themselves 20 years ago.
“Some of the growth reflects what has happened globally where VFX went from being a tool mostly used by the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, to something that is now used in almost every film and series. In 2022 you also saw how Norwegian films--particularly Troll-- took a solid place among truly international blockbusters full of complex VFX. This has a potential ripple effect in our industry in terms of national productions. It’s also great to see that many Norwegians VFX students are sought abroad.”
Efficient way of working
Another leading local VFX company is Storm Studios. The company’s Managing Director, Thomas Reppen, notes how the huge demand from foreign production companies shows that the Norwegian VFX industry delivers world-class work.
“There are skilled VFX artists and companies all over the world, but we can offer the same quality as the big players in the industry. I think what makes us attractive to work with has a lot to do with the culture and the way we work.”
He believes that the local work culture is one of the factors that makes Norwegian VFX companies competitive in the industry.
“Norwegian VFX companies are different in the sense that we have a different, highly efficient working culture, with less hierarchy. We always want to go a little further because we want to deliver the absolute best product we can.”
Sanders emphasizes that Norway has its advantages.
“Norway is a wealthy country but it’s also a small country. This means that the economy in VFX projects have a lower average budget compared to major foreign markets. From day one we had to think smartly and efficiently, not only about artists, but also about the limitations in the size of the administration. This is one of the factors that has enabled us to deliver budgets that are highly competitive despite being in a high-cost region.”
He also says his company has gained expertise in several areas.
“Gimpville has recently gained deep insight into a VFX genre that is considered extremely difficult and where we far surpass larger companies in terms of quality. Because of this we receive a lot of inquiries from abroad and are sought after for many productions.”
One of Storm Studios’ most recent works is HBO Max's record-breaking live-action series The Last of Us which has delivered the largest-ever viewership growth for a drama from a premiere episode to its second.
“We are so proud to have been involved in The Last of Us for HBO Max. It has been a dream project from start to finish in every possible way. It's absolutely wild that Storm Studios is suddenly working on one of the biggest and most popular TV series ever produced. We were involved from the very beginning of the project and participated in the creative process,it has been a lot of fun. Such projects give us the opportunity to push the quality as far as we can and at the same time showcase the quality of VFX in Norway.”
Milestone for the company
Reppen is also proud of their work on Marvel’s first Black Panther movie from 2018.
“The prologue we did for Marvel on the first Black Panther movie was kind of a milestone for Storm. It was technically challenging to produce and ended up being very successful. But apart from the professional aspect, it shows that we had finally reached our goal. We grew a lot as a company from that experience and learned an incredible amount from the process.”
Storm was also heavily involved with the sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which received incentive cash rebate from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI). Nicole Rowley, Visual Effects Producer on the movie, regards Storm as one of the favorite visual effects companies he has worked with over the years.
“The quality and collaboration you get from working with their team is some of the best in the business. We appreciate their work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and look forward to continue to partner with them, and NFI, on future projects.”
Norway – also ideal for plates
In recent years several productions have travelled to Norway to shoot plates doubling for other locations. For example, The Rauma railway - located between Åndalsnes and Dombås - served as a backdrop for the train ride with the iconic Hogwarts Express through the snowy landscape in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The spectacular action sequence in the 20th James Bond movie Die Another Day was based on plates shot at Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.
Selected VFX companies in Norway: