Dream of the Red Chamber, 1962
The Shaws hit the ground running. Work on 6 sound stages commenced immediately on 650,000 sq ft of land that was cleared for that purpose. By 1958, with construction still going on, the make-shift studios managed to produced its first movie.
When the first two sound stages were completed on November 1960, the light comedy 'All the Best' starring Peter Chen Ho opposite a bevy of starlets was shot. By the fall of 1961, two more sound stages were operational, including the multi-storey administrative building (which eventually spread over five blocks), staff dormitory, film editing, film processing, sound recording and dubbing rooms.
All Shaw films could now be shot in colour (Eastmancolor) as well as widescreen projection (Shaw Scope - Shaw's version of Cinemascope using an anamorphic lens). The success of 4 Shaw colour films released in 1962 - 'Bride Napping', 'The Magnificent Concubine', 'Dream of the Red Chamber' and 'Madam Normal Snake' clearly signalled that the 'era of colour' had arrived in Hong Kong. It was pioneered by Shaw Studio.
On December 6, 1961. Shaw Studios was officially opened. The Shaw studio staff, numbering 1,200 took up residence and work in all 25 departments. They were united in one effort - the production of Hong Kong films that could hold their own in the world market.
Construction work on 6 more sound stages on an additional 200,000 sq ft of land began in 1964. These were completed on December, 1965. Then by the end of the decade, Shaw studios occupied 850,000 sq ft of ground.
It had 5 blocks of adminstrative buildings; an editing and sound recording studio; 4 staff
dormitories for its 1,500 workers; 12 sound stages which could be used to shoot 12 different indoor sequences simultaneously and 16 permanent outdoor sets with palaces, gardens and complete streets. It even had a plaster reproduction of China's Great Wall.
To ensure consistent quality control at the post production level, extensive facilities were built by the studio including a state of the art colour film processing laboratory. Completed in 1967, the HK$3 mil facility allowed films to be developed in house at a rate of 1000 ft per hour and printing at 5000 ft per hour. The studio also had a music scoring building with composers and musicians in residence; prop and carpentry shops; a stable for the horses; a warehousing and shipping center for the finished films; and air-conditioned costume warehouses with some 80,000 Chinese costumes.
In its heyday, especially after the listing of Shaw Brothers (HK) in 1971, Shaw Studios established itself as the best known and most successful movie producer in Hong Kong. As in Hollywood, the Shaw Brothers ran the studio on the star system and mass production.