Visual Effects Oscar went to Rhythm & Hues for 'Life of Pi,' even though they recently filed for bankruptcy

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One of the four Oscars won by director Ang Lee's fantasy adventure film "Life of Pi” at Sunday's Academy Awards show was for best visual effects.

Turns out that much of the credit for the award goes to a visual effects company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.  

“Life of Pi” was the third Academy Award-winning film featuring visual effects work by El Segundo-based Rhythm and Hues Studios. The company has provided Hollywood filmmakers with visual effects since 1987 and had more than 700 employees in Southern California.

Two weeks ago, Rhythm and Hues filed for bankruptcy protection. More than 200 employees were laid off, many of whom worked for more than a year on “Life of Pi.”

Industry observers say Rhythm and Hues and other visual effects houses will see their profits shrink more as more companies get into the business – and as more studios move work to Canada, India and elsewhere to take advantage of tax incentives.

Last September, Digital Domain - another leading visual effects firm based in Southern California - also filed for bankruptcy. Its core assets were bought out by companies based in China and India.

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