French effects and post-production house Duran Duboi, which provided effects for Amelie, has filed for bankruptcy protection citing a downturn in the market.

The crisis affects two of the group's main companies, Duran and Duboi - the former working in digital effects for television and the latter in digital effects for cinema.

The company was created in 1983 and despite a healthy existence since, including work on such blockbusters as 2002 box-office leader Asterix And Obelix: Mission Cleopatra and 2001 hit Amelie, a crisis in the television production sector as well as a dearth of film projects in 2002 have left the group with little room to manouever.

Carrying a debt load of Euros 18.5m and Euros 2.5m respectively, the companies will now stop payments to subcontractors as a way to stabilise and continue work on what looks to be a more promising year to come.

Although one of Duran's principal clients, GMT production - the group behind such big miniseries as The Count Of Monte Cristo and Napoleon - cut its production by half in the past year, several cinema projects could help the company get back on its feet.

Upcoming are effects on Asterix director Alain Chabat's RRRrrr, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's follow up to Amelie, Un Long Dimanche De Fiancailles and animated film La Femme Piege by Enki Bilal.

The company also plans to tighten up its activities so as to concentrate on special effects for film and 3D animation.

Meanwhile, changes in the German visual effects landscape have seen Pablo Bach, formerly of Munich's SZM Studios, setting up his own company and Berlin post house cine plus taking over Das Werk's Berlin facility.

Bach, who had been head of SZM Studios' animation and VFX division, has launched his own company LIGA_01 Computerfilm to specialise in 3D animation, character animation, visual effect and motion graphics for film, commercials and media design.

LIGA_01 will be the first German production house to focus exclusively on the production of completely digital films or digital elements of films.

Cine plus' takeover of Das Werk's highend postproduction activities for feature films will mean that the team headed by Andreas Schellenberg can be retained at the Potsdamer Platz location in the Filmhaus.

The unit's recent visual effects credits included the current German box office hit Good Bye, Lenin!

Martin Blaney in Berlin contributed to this article