The Life Of Pi: A CGI View |

The Life Of Pi: A CGI View

A few tech tidbits about the multiple Oscar award-winning movie.


At the end of this year's Oscar awards, Life of Pi walked away with the maximum number of awards (4 trophies). It also holds the distinction of being a movie with the most number of the Academy awards with a predominantly Indian cast, in recent times. The plot of the movie revolves around Pi (or Piscine Molitor Patel), recounting his tale of survival from a sinking ship by climbing aboard a lifeboat with scant supplies. The situation is complicated further by wild animals including a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orang-utan, who also make their way into the lifeboat in search of safety.

The highlight of this movie has been its 3D computer graphics imagery (CGI). The technology has been used extensively to recreate realistic and lifelike models and environments including wild animals and stormy high seas. Autodesk Maya and Mudbox have been used to create the believable CGI by the character animation and visual effects studio, Rhythm & Hues (R&H). Here are a few notable and interesting technical details about the making of this movie:

  • There are 446 stereoscopic 3D VFX shots of the CG Bengal tiger, a whale, ocean creatures, and 110 sky environments.
  • 85% of the shots of the Bengal tiger are computer generated, with only 24 shots of a real tiger (there were six tigers used during the shoot).
  • 10 million digital hair had to be rendered on the tiger with each piece made up of two levels — the actual hair and guides to control its flow and motion.
  • The R&H team of 568 people worked at six international locations: El Segundo (USA), Mumbai and Hyderabad (India), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Vancouver (Canada), and Kaohsiung (Taiwan).
  • Maya has been used for modelling and matte painting, while Mudbox has been used to create displacement maps for texture painting.

CGI Details About Life Of Pi

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