Alumnus Works on Recently Released "Life of Pi"

Still from "Life of Pi," courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The movie Life of Pi, which opened last week, has received rave reviews, including "it is quite possibly the greatest CGI ever rendered for film" by Slant Magazine, and we have animators such as Media Studies alumnus Steve Hubbard (CCAD 2010) to thank for that.

The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, which follows Pi Patel, the son of a zoo keeper, who lives in India. His family decides to move to Canada by hitching a ride on an ocean freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.

"I worked on about 20 shots throughout the film," Hubbard said. "I worked on fur and muscle simulations for Richard Parker [the tiger], the hyena, and the zebra. I also worked on the tarp interactions with the animals and Pi, the ropes on the boat, and I did some movements on fish as well."

"It's very exciting to finally see your work on the big screen," Hubbard said. "It's always a great feeling of accomplishment on every film I work on, especially when the film is something as special as Life Of Pi. It's great to see how all of the efforts of all the artists on the film come together to make a whole."

Still from "Life of Pi," courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Hubbard worked on the film for about seven months, then wasted no time jumping into his next project, R.I.P.D., starring Ryan Reynolds, which will be released in July 2013. He's also working on the movie Black Sky, set for release in 2013.

Hubbard has worked for Rhythm & Hues Studio since 2010. The studio worked on the animation for Life of Pi, as well as other productions including 300, The Bourne Legacy, and The Hunger Games.

Hubbard shared details on some specific scenes and effects that he worked on:

  • When the hyena first emerges from the boat there is a long tracking shot that cranes around the whole vessel. On that shot, Hubbard worked on the zebra, hyena, tarp, and ropes.
  • In one scene, Pi throws a rat at Richard Parker. Hubbard worked on Richard Parker's muscle and fur and the rat's secondary motion. He also assisted with the tarp interaction with the tiger.
  • Hubbard worked on the shot were Pi throws a sunfish to Richard Parker to feed him for the first time. He worked on the fish's motion, the tarp's interaction with the tiger, and the hair and muscle of the tiger.