Monday, July 16, 2007

The Proof of the Pudding

So yesterday I finally saw what 18 months of blood, sweat and tears looks like on the big screen. Together with the entire clan Tinseltroos we went en masse to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". Tinseltroos had already seen the film on Friday morning and declared herself delighted. She is a rabid Potterphile so I felt I had to make allowances for that and was far from certain that I would feel the same way.

The thing I was most concerned about was how the sequence I'd worked on had been treated after it left us. Once the visual effects for a film are complete they are generally run through a procedure called grading where the director sits down with a colourist and decides how to subtly (one hopes) adjust the colour in a sequence to make it a tad bluer, or a little more contrasty or whatever. This is left until last as it enables the director to be sure that the live action elements and the computer graphics will sit next to each other happily and that an overall style for the film can be maintained. The downside for us is that we in the VFX side are never quite sure what we're going to see on screen and most VFX artists can tell stories about shows where the colourist has gone nuts and really screwed up a sequence. I once spent a year working on a movie that then had the whole film brightened up massively to the point where much of the detail we'd pain-stakingly put into each shot was blown out to white. Suffice to say there is always a sense of trepidation when you see your shots in a cinema with a paying audience.

Another aspect that's nerve-wracking is that audience reaction. It is one of the great pleasures of my job to sit in a cinema and watch people laugh or cheer or cry at something I've spent a long time crafting. The other side of the coin is that if it doesn't have the desired effect on the public it is very dispiriting to see your work have no effect at all.

And so it was with this mixture of hope and abject terror that I took my seat in the Odeon Leicester Square for the Sunday matinée. The film didn't do too much for me, if I'm honest. I enjoyed the "Goblet of Fire" more but I think this is mostly because "Order of the Phoenix" made no allowances for those unfamiliar with the story from the book. Many relationships were never explained and the film had a jolting, episodic/montage quality where one event simply led to another in a relentless and slightly mechanistic way. If you already know the story backwards I doubt this would bother you. That said I was heartily relieved when Grawp finally appeared on screen and our boy looked fine, the extra grading had helped if anything and there he was, 20 feet high performing in front of 1700 people. It was a bit of a rush but the crowd responded well, "oohing" and "awwing" at the right moments and generally I was much happier with how Grawp looked in the cinema than I ever thought I would be. Tinseltroos' contribution, the apparating and flying wizards, looked amazing but I had no doubts about that beforehand; she's just too talented for her own good.

I'll probably go and see the film once more for the 3D IMAX release but I think true Potter-fans will not feel let down. Also no-one laughed at my work and both of those mark the experience down as a win in my book.

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Blogger Margaret said...

YAY you!

1:39 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Thanks, Margaret.

2:02 pm  
Blogger Churlita said...

I bet it feels so cool to see your work on the big screen. Good job.

9:43 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Churlita, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a buzz. It's more the vindication that we did something right. After staring intently at it for a year and a half we have no critical, objective judgement of our own left. It's a relief to be sure.

8:27 am  
Blogger jen said...

finally saw the movie this weekend. congrats on a job well done!

8:29 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Thank you so much, Jen; though it's not supposed to be what we crave, I do like being told I've done a good job. My mum's comment to me was, "He's only in the film very briefly and it's very dark. The text on credits was a bit scruffy too." And that was it. Bless her but she has no appreciation of it at all.

9:11 am  
Blogger Mandi said...

I've seen the movie twice. Grawp was one of my favorite parts - I love the portrayal of a gentle, tender giant, and he looked great!

Applause for Atrocity (and Tinseltroos!) for their artistic contributions to a story loved worldwide.

3:36 am  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Thank you Mandi; I've only seen the film once but if we can get tickets for the IMAX version I think we'll manage one more time in 3D.

8:57 am  

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