Life Of Pi’s tiger burns bright in my “Oscar Effects” column

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My penultimate “Oscar Effects” column for Digital Trends was published Friday, and I devoted it to the visual-effects magic that gave us Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger in “Life Of Pi.”

“Life Of Pi” is actually my favorite of the “Best Picture” nominees, and while I don’t think it has a chance of winning that category, I hope it gets some recognition for the magical, wonderful way director Ang Lee brought this seemingly unfilmable story to life on the screen. I’m also hoping to catch this movie in the theater before it ends its run, as I saw it at home and feel like I missed out by not screening it in a theater with the full 3-D experience.

Here’s an excerpt from my column:

Lee, Sharma, and the effects team also spent considerable time studying real-world tigers in order to determine how they might react to situations presented in Life of Pi. While this was new ground to cover for Lee and Sharma, Rhythm & Hues found themselves in somewhat familiar territory, having provided the visual effects that brought the great lion Aslan to life in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Still, the need to create both a believable tiger and that tiger’s reactions to being in such an extreme, unusual environment presented some unique challenges.

“The hardest [scenes to film] were when the tiger was in water and especially in the storm, when the boat’s splashing around,” Westenhofer told The Los Angeles Times. “The water work and having to have water interact with hair and vice versa was, from a science standpoint, this cyclic pipeline of each affects the other. And the tiger’s being done in one software package, the water’s being done with another. We’ve got to get them all to talk to each other and to interact. They were by far the longest shots in production and the hardest that we did.”

You can read the rest of the column at DigitalTrends.com.