Thanks to Fox Home Entertainment, we had the chance to attend the Life of Pi Blu-Ray Launch in Sydney on Tuesday, 30 April 2013.
As you probably already know the story, Life of Pi follows the fantastic journey of Pi, an Indian boy (Suraj Sharma) who survives a disaster at sea. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor on the ship – a fearsome Bengal tiger named ‘Richard Parker’ who captured Pi’s curiosity.
The launch was prepared impeccably by Fox, with themed Life of Pi first aid kits and delicious breakfast on arrival for the press to make the waiting more enjoyable, before the main presentation inside the Hoyts cinema Studio 12 at the Entertainment Quarter Sydney.
After a very short wait, the first features from the Blu-Ray were presented, including a closer look at the star of the film Suraj Sharma, who surprisingly had no previous acting experience and did not know how to swim. The footage is amazing as it shows the young actor’s progression and Ang Lee’s support all the way, at times acting as his guardian in a ceremony (as requested by Suraj’s family).
We also saw some stunning special effect features such as the biggest water studio with real waves used for the film, where most of the movie was made with high technical difficulties explained step by step by the team behind the film.
The Life of Pi Blu-Ray has more than 2 hours of breath-taking bonus features, from pre-production of a film that was said to be impossible to make; to the magnificent special effects and the painstaking search for the lead actor around schools in India as Director Ang Lee wanted an innocent kid to convey real emotions on the big screen. This is documented in the “A filmmaker’s Epic Journey”, a must watch for all movie lovers and aspiring film directors.
Lastly, Fox had another treat for us that day as we had the chance to participate in a live Skype Q&A with the film’s Oscar winning Visual Effects Supervisor Bill Westenhofer. Here’s what we asked him about the film:
SR. First of all congratulations for your well deserved Oscar. From a technical point of view, what was the hardest scene to make and why?
Definitely the hardest part, was the ship sequence with the storm, as Ang (Lee) wanted huge waves, and working with water in motion is always challenging, as every move is different from one another and in addition we have CGI animals and actors moving around, so we spent a long time on that scene, finding the perfect balance as Ang has a special attention on tiny details but we are pretty happy with the final results.
SR. When the idea of adapting Life of Pi into a feature film came out, many people close to the industry said that film was impossible to make. We wonder, how did you react when you got the call to join the film?
BW. Ha ha…yeah, well part of my job is to sound as confident as possible when you get on board a project like this one, so when they asked me to work on this I was on board without thinking immediately on the huge challenge before me.
Obviously, then you start thinking about how hard it will be to plan everything and how we will be working during the pre and post production on the effects to get a general idea of which way to go. For example, the way how Richard Parker moves, the water and the lighting has to be perfect which was not easy to recreate as many scenes were in an aquatic environment. However, Ang Lee gave us freedom to try new things and the results are there, and I`m are extremely happy to have participated in this film.
Overall, the Life of Pi Blu-Ray launch was a solid event with a lot of planning to promote the home entertainment release of this film. It gave us a glimpse of the more than 2 hours of special features within the Blu-Ray and the chance to speak live with special visual effects royalty Bill Westenhofer. We believe Life of Pi Blu-Ray is a must own to follow the adventures of Pi and Richard Parker from the comfort of your home, with crystal clear images and fantastic sound.
Life of Pi , arrives on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™ and DVD, May 8.