Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: "Life After Pi" is a Compelling Call for Action

One of the most tragic stories that came out of the 2013 Oscar ceremony was the revelation that FX company Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy. The company that won a Best Visual Effects Oscar for Life of Pi took to the stage that night only to be played off. Close to a year later, the company released a short 30-minute documentary highlighting this epidemic and how it impacted the industry. As the documentary comes to a close, it serves more as a precaution for a rapidly changing industry ahead. As technology continues to be prevalent in the biggest films, it is an issue worth addressing, and one that will hopefully benefit from this story.

Released for free online (here), the website claims that it is the first chapter in a larger project known as Hollywood Ending.  Little is known about what the other portions of this documentary will look like, but their goal is to reflect the change in the industry as professionals are getting laid off or forced to work overseas for months at a time. Life After Pi explores the final days of Rhythm & Hues as they receive the news and reveal how impacting it is to their careers. Featuring interviews with several animators and workers, there is a relative aspect to how important the company is, especially for a film that is innovative and stands a chance to push the potential of visual effects forward.

Even if the short ends without a sense of resolution, it initiates the problem and rallies the viewer to care. Along with accompanying footage from the Oscars ceremony and the simultaneous protest of the closing company, it unwraps the glamorous image and suggests that we look at the people who made it look so good. Along with the brilliant Before VFX, the outcry for support has opened up many eyes to the impact of the technology and should help to convert viewers to the cause. As Before VFX suggests, films would look a lot worse without the people that were laid off. With companies still falling to bankruptcy, it is an ongoing issue that is likely to help Life After Pi expand into a larger presence.

While this review may be short, it is only because the video's information is far too valuable to dissect at length here. Watch the video above to understand the financial structure and how economics play into making entertainment work. It is tight and informative. Most of all, it makes me curious as to what Hollywood Ending is likely to produce on top of this. Ending with the line "Change starts now," Life After Pi may not be the most lively documentary, but it strips everything down to its necessity. Most of all, it leaves some curiosity to what other fields Hollywood Ending is likely to explore. Even then, hopefully whatever does come will continue to hold an impact and help to improve the changing industry as time goes on.

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