Life of Pi

There’s something ironic about the fact that the better visual effects are, the more difficult it can be to notice them at all. At the top level, talented VFX artists create imagery so seamlessly lifelike that the average moviegoer isn’t even aware that the fantastical creatures and majestic landscapes they’re watching were painstakingly crafted on a computer, not captured in reality.

What’s really unfortunate, though, is that these workers aren’t just overlooked by the audience but also by the industry they work for. About a year ago, the issue reached a boiling point when effects house Rhythm & Hues picked up the Best Visual Effects Oscar for Life of Pi, two weeks after it had filed for bankruptcy.

The new documentary short Life After Pi takes a good hard look at the broken system that sank Rhythm & Hues, even as the film they’d made possible went on to make five times its production budget at the global box office. Life After Pi is now available online, and you can watch it in its entirety after the jump.

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Life of Pi

February 2013 was a bittersweet month for the visual effects house Rhythm & Hues. Due to the increased cost of effects-based work in Hollywood and the competitive nature of the business, they were forced to declare bankruptcy, fire hundreds of people and close up shop. Two weeks later, the company was given the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for their work in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. The closing spawned tons of protests around Hollywood. How could the best visual effects house not be making any money?

That question has become a fundamental issue within Hollywood, and Rhythm & Hues employees used the unique and upsetting occasion to make a short documentary called Life After Pi. The trailer is out now and the full length short will be released online February 25. Eventually, it’ll be used in a feature length documentary called Hollywood Ending which explores “why the movie capital of the world is forcing filmmakers to leave.”  Read More »

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