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October 2015

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DIRECTOR'S CHAIR 15 POST OCTOBER 2015 fice 'round the corner. I like to keep that feeling of a 'handmade' film, and that's one of the things I most wanted to get out of all the huge VFX shots on it — the sense that it's all made by hand, which was quite a challenge for Chas." How did that relationship work with editors William Hoy and Paul Tothill? "Paul, my long-time editor, had never done a huge action film with tons of VFX, and like me, he's a bit of a Luddite. So Bill, who's incredibly talented and proficient, came in on post to work on all the action sequences and help us, while Paul was on-set all the way through. Bill was very open and generous, and they worked very well together, although I'd been slightly dubious about having two editors." There's obviously a huge number of VFX shots. How many are there? "About 1,600 — a lot, and we had a lot of VFX companies working on it, including Framestore, Scanline, Rising Sun Pictures and MPC." You jumped in deep with the VFX — did you love it or was it a hard slog? "No, I loved it, as the possibilities are infinite. It's like electric guitars and rock 'n' roll. The technology opens up and re- freshes the medium, and unless you em- brace that, you're not going to be able to explore the outer limits of your imagina- tion and the craft. But I did find working with all the vendors quite challenging. I really liked working with the VFX houses in London, but dealing with places in Australia or Canada was difficult, as try- ing to communicate your ideas via Skype or video conference isn't easy." What was the most difficult VFX sequence/shot to do and why? "The mermaid stuff was so complex, as we shot them dry-for-wet, and one actress played three and she was on the Kuka arm and the camera was on motion control, and the moves had all been choreographed in previs. Then we had to add all the VFX in post, like the simulated hair and the tail and lighting underwater and diffusion and so on. I believe it's one of the most complex VFX sequences ever done, which is ironic as this was my first time working with them. Then also all the big battles on the flying sailing ships, because although we built com- plete ships' decks, we didn't build masts or hulls and so on, and the ships weren't in a physical relationship with each other, so that whole sequence was incredibly technically challenging." Can you talk about the importance of music and sound to you as a filmmaker? "Sound is 50 percent of the experience, and when I was at art school making little art films, I made them without any picture at all, as we couldn't afford to shoot them (laughs). So it was all sound, and that really taught me a lot about the way sound and image work. "For me, a lot of filmmaking is about rhythm and time, so it's crucial to get the sound and music right. Craig Berkey, who did my first film and every one since, was our supervising sound editor, and we mixed in the fabled big room at De Lane Lea in London, which was very exciting. And we mixed in Atmos which was just fantastic. We recorded a 90-piece choir for John Powell's score." The DI must have been vital. How did that process help? "We did it at Technicolor in London, with colorist Peter Doyle, who has a very subtle hand and eye. I really enjoyed that process as well. It's always been very important to me, and exciting." Did the film turn out the way you hoped it would? "It did, although it's always different from the way you originally pictured it." What's next? Will you be taking on the next Fast & Furious film? "Certainly not! But I've discovered that I really like making these huge movies, so that's very exciting. But then I've also discovered that I miss intimate dialogue movies as well, so I'm not sure what's next. I've promised my therapist I won't decide on what's next for a few months." Scanline, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures and MPC completed roughly 1,600 VFX shots, including the flying sailing ships.

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