Film Analysis: Life of Pi

Date: November 25th, 2013
Film Response #2: Life of Pi
Life of Pi, based on a novel by Yann Martel, follows the story of a young Indian boy who survives a disaster at sea by taking refuge in a small boat occupied animal companions. The movie was directed by Ang Lee and was nominated for 11 Oscar, especially for the visual effects category from cinematography to sound editing. In total, the movie has 960 shots in which 690 were visual effects shots and 446 Rhythm & Hues shots. The visual artists distribution is very diverse: 53% from Los Angeles, 20% from Hyderabad, 17% from Mumbai, 7% from Kuala Lumpur and 3% from Vancouver.
According to Ang Lee, he has never seen realistic water scenes in other movies since the water always hits one side of a tank wall and bounces back like it would in a bathtub, making it look too “impractical.” In contribution to the movie, the crew built the world’s largest wave pool (300-foot-long, 100-foot-wide and 9-foot-deep, one removable wall) in the filmmaking history on an actual runway at a Taiwan airport in order to make the water looks as realistic as possible. With this type of tank, Ang Lee was able to create an elongated wave; he also had the ability to control and adjust the shape, size and pattern accordingly. Besides this outdoor tank, the crew also built another indoor pool for underwater shooting. While filming, the actor is isolated in the middle of the noisy wave tank by himself and sometimes the crew cannot even communicate with the actor so they used an air horn to tell him when to stop or keep going (“cut” or “go again”).
According to Jason Bayever, the digital effects supervisor of Rhythm & Hues Studio, the entire movie was also shot in 3D, not partially in 2D, which makes filming more complicated because 3D camera equipment is very heavy and visual effects work has to be a lot more precise (especially when dealing with water). Moreover, many VFX techniques are hard or don’t work in 3D such as element…

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