Projects: WandaVision, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
My Role: Senior Compositor
Company: Luma Pictures
The Covid-19 global pandemic has caused immeasurable damage and harm, yet it also provided some new opportunities. Our industry of VFX saw remote work options offered like never before! Companies unable to work on site or find enough talent locally, with global travel ban in place, had to resort to what was previously very limited, mainly due to security concerns, and adopt to remote pipeline and workflows. While I do miss working on site and day to day interaction with people, I feel a lot of good came out of the remote practices.
I was fortune to be offered an opportunity with Luma Pictures Australia as a result of these changes and joined Luma Melbourne while I was sheltering from Covid in Dublin. Luma has been one of the companies I had been following since my university times and I always appreciated their sensibilities and impressed by the quality of the work coming out of this ’boutique’ studio. I was very excited to take a peek under the hood!
Luma manages the projects and artists in a very different manner to what I had experienced so far. Instead of having teams dedicated to one project, artist float from projects to project. Whether this is the best way to manage your project and teams is a different discussion and I have my own ideas on the matter, but I embraced the idea and tried to observe the effects. I ended up contributing very briefly on The Tomorrow War (2021) and WandaVision(2021) but I didn’t really feel I was a part of them even though Luma kindly credited me on the episode of WandaVision I worked on. The majority of my time was spent on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).
The part I contributed to was a very exciting bus battle sequence where Shang-Chi is facing the “bad guys” in an out of control bus in streets of San Francisco. We were replacing the exterior with previously shot footage and face replacement from the stuntman to Shang0Chi(Simu Liu). Both parts were equally interesting and challenging. Getting the exterior footage to work properly with the shot camera, grading and creating interactive lighting from the outside to effect inside the bus and adding additional details like reflection etc. to make this fusion work even better was an incredibly fun process. Face replacement however was a whole different ball game. We tried different strategies and eventually a combination of deep fake and a comp setup treatment seems to be the best approach. Sadly, I could not stay until the delivery due to prior commitment, but we managed to deliver to couple of those shots for the trailer.
Luckily with a very talented & capable comp lead; Greg Ng, great support from our comp supervisor Daneil Hammond and under the supervision of the magnificent Andrew Zink, achieving those goals didn’t seem so hard. I have worked in many places and ultimately your experience comes down to people and Lumanians are indeed a lovely bunch. I truly hope they’ll have me back in the future and I do miss them all.