Malaysians stand proud of 'Pi'

NST, February 27, 2013

THE spirit of Malaysia Boleh! is written all over Oscar-winning movie The Life Of Pi directed by Ang Lee.

Cyberjaya-based Rhythm And Hues studios has been largely responsible for creating the special visual effects that made the poignant story of a young man and a tiger an astounding success in the Academy Awards this year.

The company's senior manager, Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, says 47 visual effects artists from Malaysia worked extremely hard in creating state-of-the-art special effects for The Life Of Pi since filming production began two years ago.

"We worked very closely with fellow artists from the company based in India, Canada and Taiwan, as well as its headquarters in Los Angeles, the United States."

While Rhythm And Hues studios in India and Taiwan had played important roles in the movie too, for the Malaysian team, it was a win worth savouring as they had been instrumental in composing the computer-generated imagery (CGI) tiger, Richard Parker, all 10 million digital hairs of him.

Hasnul said while The Life Of Pi brought them an "Oscar gold", it is not the first film to do so.

"We had The Golden Compass, starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman in 2007, which won Best Visual Effects in the Academy Awards.

"And in this Oscars, Snow White And The Huntsman was also in the running but did not win."

So far, 19 films have had the Rhythm And Hues' magical touch, and to date, 150 Malaysians work with the company.

"We began with a just eight Malaysians. I joined three years ago," says Hasnul.

The other notable films which the company has helped produce are The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Knight And Day with Tom Cruise, The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner and X-Men First Class.

"Future films include action drama RIPD, starring Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Bacon, Percy Jackson 2: Sea Of Monsters with Logan Lerman and fantasy film The Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges."

Rhythm And Hues has been around for 26 years. Its Malaysian office opened in Cyberjaya in 2009.

"Alvin And The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel was the first movie we worked on from Cyberjaya. Prior to this, we were based in the US and India."

Hasnul says the company's talented visual effects (VFX) artists come from various educational institutions in Malaysia, most notably, The One Academy.

"They are highly qualified and passionate about their craft, always striving to better themselves.

"For the Malaysians, the sky's the limit."