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The Trouble With Computer Graphic Tigers …

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Tim Squyres is a film editor, and director Ang Lee’s partner in crime for the last two decades, having edited all but one of his films.

Among others, Squyres edited Hulk, Sense and Sensibility, Lust, Caution, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best film editing.

He most recently edited Life of Pi, an adaptation of the best-selling book that follows the tale of an Indian boy struggling to survive inside a lifeboat drifting at sea. He shares the lifeboat, naturally, with a vicious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Tim did an extensive interview with Ellis Hamburger on TheVerge.com.

“Visual effects and 3D are really hard. Everything’s much harder. 2D is a lot more forgiving — even just with simple blue screens. Pi’s on a boat that’s moving around, and he’s got wild hair.”

Hamburger: What was the hardest scene to cut in Pi?

Squyers: 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?

“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?”

Hamburger: What’s the toughest part of creating a CG tiger — a tiger that so much of the film focuses on?

Squyers: Even people who haven’t studied tigers understand physics. You just know how something that big moves. If the tiger hops down, how does its weight settle down in a way that looks real? When it steps how do its feet compress as weight comes down on them.? If it looks wrong, you know it looks wrong, but you might not know why. When you start with animation you begin with the anatomy of a real tiger, with real bones, real muscles, and the way skin hangs on its fur. You do it through simulations. If you had to animate everything, there isn’t enough time left in the life of the universe to do it right. Some of the animators are geniuses in stuff they came up with, and a lot of it was driven by footage of real tigers, like when the tiger is uneasy and turns its head, what does it do with its ears and tail? When irritated, how do tigers hold their tails when they’re walking?

You can see the Full Interview Here.

 

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