Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage

Life Of Pi helmer Ang Lee caused controversy last month when he failed to thank the film’s VFX artists – including those at the troubled Rhythm & Hues – during his acceptance speech for the Best Director Oscar. Today, the director topped the bill at the opening of the 3D Creative Summit in London, appearing via satellite to discuss the visual work done on Pi.

The film’s VFX consultant David Conley presented the audience with a breakdown of the visual effects wizardry featured in two extended Pi sequences, as it pertained to the film’s use of 3D. But Lee, who praised the detail of Conley’s presentation, stuck to discussing the third dimension alone. Speaking of the cost of visual effects, he said he had feared that the economic reality of Pi would not match the artistic demands of realizing it. “It would be like the number Pi: it keeps on going and makes no sense.” 3D, then, was a way to keep the budget manageable. It added a level of authenticity that allowed him to downplay the VFX. “It gives volume. It picks up so much information and gives realism.” He added that the film’s most famous creation, the CG tiger Richard Parker, was rendered more believable because it was presented in 3D.

But, he urged practioners to move away from the perception that 3D is all about action and movement: “I think it should be used in drama. For over a hundred years our eyes have compensated for the lack of volume in 2D. 3D is the new illusion of cinema. It’s not the depth of real life, but it’s not flat either. It’s its own thing.” He insisted, however, on the need for filmmakers to learn the language of the medium for themselves. “Don’t trust anyone to tell you what 3D is, not even myself. If anyone tries to tell you what 3D is they’re bullshitting you.”