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Film Studies 101
Feature
Before And After: A Look At Life Of Pi's Visual Effects
Six steps to the perfect storm

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The old adage about never working with animals or on water applies double in VFX work. Ang Lee’s Life Of Pie – water, animals, animals in water – was a challenge tackled over two years of toil, technical innovation and computers so powerful they make the grid in Tron look like your old Atari. Lee demanded that each of the movie’s 700-odd effects shots was grounded in something real, as the film's VFX Supervisor, MPC’s Guillaume Rocheron tells us. The result is a game-changer: a five-star, ocean-going spectacular. Rocheron took us through six 'before' and 'after' shots and explained six keys steps to achieve the film's astonishing visuals.

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WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
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1. Wait For The Tech To Catch Up With The Vision

Several filmmakers tried and failed to realise Yann Martel's vision on the big screen since Life Of Pi was first published back in 2001. The story of Piscine 'Pi' Molitor and his shipwreck with an orang-utan, a hyena, a wounded zebra and a Bengali tiger named Richard Parker stumped first M. Night Shyamalan, then Alfonso Cuarón. As the movie's VFX Supervisor Guillaume Rocheron explains, modern visual effects have finally made it possible for Ang Lee to succeed where those two were foiled.

"The technology didn't exist to make this film [in the early noughties], and if they had tried it would have been incredibly expensive. Titanic was a very expensive movie to make and you can count open ocean in minutes in that movie - Life Of Pi is on the water for more than an hour. That's the major difference: the technology wasn't ready to show oceans like this then."

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Your Comments

1
I saw this film last week at a special screening and i thought it was amazing! by far, one of the best films of the year, visuals to story were amazing! thankyou Ang Lee for bringing this great story to life! More

Posted by Armani88 on Saturday December 22, 2012, 10:27

2
It's easy to forget while watching it just how much time and effort people have put into creating every single shot. Impressive. More

Posted by Whistler on Friday December 21, 2012, 15:00

3 Nice to see some honesty
It is refreshing that the production company have allowed the work done by VFX to be recognised in the publicity, rather than the usual BS and lies about "we shot it for real" or all the actors did their own stunts that usually comes out. More

Posted by iwantbitty on Friday December 21, 2012, 12:17


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