Computer Graphics World

Edition 4 2018

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n 1964, Disney released one of its most iconic films and intro- duced audiences to Mary Pop- pins, a story of a charmed nanny who, through music and magic, helped repair a strained relationship between two children and their father. Relying on some of the period's most cutting-edge techniques, the studio mixed animation with live-action perfor- mances, as well as some practical gags, and took audiences on an adventure with dancing penguins, carousel horses, and singing farm animals. The next year, the film went on to win five Academy Awards, including one for visual effects. Fast forward 54 years, and Disney is hoping to make movie magic once again with a long-awaited sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, staring Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins, Meryl Streep as Topsy, and Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr. At the helm is Academy Award-winning director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) and a stellar team of creatives that includes Academy Award-winning DP Dion Beebe (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha), editor Wyatt Smith (Into the Woods, Doctor Strange), and vi- sual effects supervisor Matt Johnson (Into the Woods, World War Z) – all of whom had some very large shoes to fill. "It's funny, it's Mary Poppins, and Disney is handing you the crown jewels, going, "here, take these. And don't screw it up," Johnson says with a laugh. "It's one of the most iconic films ever made, and every- one is going to be looking at the visual effects because they are really important. I mean, she does magic, and magic tends to be visual effects, which were spectacu- lar in Mary Poppins!" No Place Like Home Production on Mary Poppins Returns began in February 2017, and the film was shot on Arri Alexa Mini and SXT cameras at various locations throughout England. According to Johnson, there were visual effects requirements throughout the film, but there were certainly key areas that demanded a great deal of focus, including a brand-new animated/live-action sequence, an underwater segment, the fictitious Cherry Tree Lane where the Banks family lives, and, of course, Mary Poppins' magic itself. "We really run the gamut in terms of the visual effects for this film," says John- son. The creation of Cherry Tree Lane, for instance, is a partial set built at Surrey, England's Shepperton Studios, with a full- CG London behind it. "There were a lot of CG environments, a sort-of CG park, and a lot of digital extension work in the film," explains Johnson. "We had to take contemporary London and make it look like it was 1934." To that end, there was a great deal of "invisible" visual effects work, "instances where the audience is just looking at the Supercalifragilis CREATING VFX FOR DISNEY'S MUCH-ANTICIPATED MARY POPPINS RETURNS BY LINDA ROMANELLO I THE FILM EMPLOYS HAND-DRAWN TECHNIQUES. Images ©2017 Disney Enterprises, Inc

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