A candid chat with VFX artist, who worked on Harry Potter films, The Jungle Book

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 09:37 IST | Shraddha Uchil

In town for a talk, UK-based visual effects compositor Suzanne Jandu discusses the evolution of the VFX industry and the fun she had working on The Jungle Book and Harry Potter films

A still from The Jungle Book (2016), a film featuring impressive visual effects
A still from The Jungle Book (2016), a film featuring impressive visual effects

In her capacity as lead compositor for Moving Picture Company (MPC) in London, Suzanne Jandu has been bringing concept art to life on the big screen for several years now. Jandu, who is half Indian and lives in the UK with her two young daughters, has been associated with mega releases like the Harry Potter series and, more recently, The Jungle Book. She was in the city yesterday to talk about her work on these films at The Foundry India Roadshow 2016 on Virtual Reality. Excerpts from an interview:

The climactic duel from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part IIThe climactic duel from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

How did you start out in the visual effects industry? How different was it back then?
I started my career working on children’s animation TV shows back in 1999. The computers, the technology… everything was a lot different in terms of both software and hardware. I started working on big-budget Hollywood productions only after shifting to the MPC London in 2003. The visual effects industry has come really far in such a short time.

A software called Nuke was used to create the visual effects for The Jungle Book
A software called Nuke was used to create the visual effects for The Jungle Book

What does your role as a compositor involve?
I work alongside a lot of visual artists. My job is to figure out how to make the visual effects appear on screen — how things are going to look and behave. For example, if the artists give me a scene involving the sea, it is my job to make sure the water churns and moves as realistically as possible.

Suzanne Jandu
Suzanne Jandu

Which project did you really enjoy working on?
The Harry Potter films were the most fun, especially the scene in the last movie where Harry and Voldemort engage in a duel. So many people grew up reading the books and imagining what that climactic duel would have looked like. We had to get it right, and I think we did.

And which one was the most challenging?
It has got to be The Jungle Book. A lot of thought and detailing went into the visual effects of the film. First, there were months of preparation; then, it went through various departments before reaching me. The project took us two years to complete.

What software do you work on?
We use something called Nuke, which is the best compositing software available out there. There are many reasons for this, one being the fact that you can work on several different layers — it’s kind of like Photoshop, but for VFX. Earlier, we would use a software called Shake, which was very slow; you couldn’t even undo a change you had made on it. Nuke, on the other hand, is fast and reliable.

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