Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Life of Pi and Tim Squyres

This is one of the best films of 2013 so far!

Okay, well it is a bit better than that. This film is about an Indian man telling the story of his life and how he came to where he is now.

Piscine Molitor (Pi) grew up living on his Fathers zoo in India. He was named after a swimming pool in France which his uncle visited and he thought it to be extraordinary because of the clear water. Pi's uncle insisted Pi was to be named after this swimming pool if he was to have a clean soul.
During his childhood Pi got bullied by other children because of his name so one day Piscine decided he would rather be called 'Pi', so he recites over 100 decimal places of Pi (π) and shows everyone in his class.

Whist Pi was a child he also became almost obsessed with religion and although his father didn't like it, by the time Pi was a teenager he was already a Hindu, a Catholic and a Muslim.

One day Pi's father thinks it would be beneficial moving his Zoo across the North Pacific Ocean and to Vancouver in Canada where they can start their life again. None of the family including the father want this however they think it must be done if they want to have money.

They cage up all of their animals and pack up all of their possessions and head out on a Japanese ship to Canada. One extremely stormy night, Pi goes outside on the boat to see the thunder and lightning. Whilst he slips around on the deck of the boat he sees that members of the ships crew are getting swept away by some of the waves that are coming over the sides and on to the boat.

This is where Pi's journey begins, he is forced to get onto a life boat with other people on the ship however they are tragically swept away by strong waves and Pi is left on the life boat on his own; floating away from the Ship and everyone on it.
Pi is not alone though, he is accompanied by a injured Zebra and he later finds out, a Tiger too!

This film shows us what life is like for Pi as he spends dozens of days in the wilderness of the North Pacific. He sees some amazing sights and experiences beautiful wildlife despite being close to dying many times.

The way in which this film is shot is outstanding because every camera angle feels like it is just perfect. The colours of the sea and of the scenery are bright and colourful but most of all they feel real. Even the animation of animals (especially Richard Parker, the Tiger) is outstanding and mind blowing.

Life of Pi is both a marvellous film and a fine piece of Art

In conclusion, this film is unique and visually perfect in the cinema no matter if you see it in 2D or 3D however without the big screen and surround sound I'm not sure how good this film will look so I would strongly recommend you go and see it in the cinema whilst you still can.

Rating: 8.7/10

Tim Squyres
Tim Squyres is the film editor of 'Life of Pi' and he has won an Academy Award for film editing. He did a fascinating interview with 'The Verge' last month where he talked about how hard it is to edit films in 3D especially when they include animated animals and lots of special effects.

He said "Things that are relatively simple in 2D re a nightmare in 3D" however he also said that "Very often in a film, one of the scenes you spend the most time on has no visual effects at all. For me it’s the scene where Pi’s family is having dinner and talking about religion versus reason when Pi is 11. That scene we worked on a lot — changed it, rewrote it, reshuffled it, and shortened it. We decided early on that we were going to drop some of it, but what lines do we drop, and what lines do we put back?"
All the hard work did pay of in the end because Life of Pi was a truly wonderful film.

Digital Actors
In the interview, Squyres was asked about digital actors and how possible they are to create and look realistic. He says "The hardest part is the face. Body motion we can do fairly well, because to some extent with body movement you can actually just use motion capture data or just photograph people. There are so many muscles in the face, and humans are so adept at interpreting those movements."
He added "With a tiger we can get away with it is since they’re covered in fur, and don’t have the same degree of expressiveness. Without the fur it’s really hard, but it’s not impossible."

By the looks of it, this means that the likes of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz will still be working for a few more decades however the amount of stunts that humans perform will decrease and we will slowly be replaced with CGI. There are less risks using digital actors for stunts instead of real people and therefore more practical for the producers. Money will be saved on insurance because there is a 0% chance of Tom Cruise crashing a Ferrari and breaking his nose.

Digital actors could make the stunts that we never thought possible, possible!

Although digital actors would put tens of thousands of real actors out of work, they would be replaced with tens of thousands of special effects editors and CGI creators. Making people on computers and animating them is debatably more skilful than acting so creating digital actors would be a high paid job and the animators might even become celebrities. Despite this, Squyres ended the interview with the statement "Things should go under-appreciated. You should just be able to watch the movie."