Mischief managed by UL Lafayette

by Anna Purdy

UL Lafayette had a hand in the final Harry Potter film.

Pixel Magic is a visual effects company based in Los Angeles that has an office here in Lafayette at the LITE Center. One of the draws to Lafayette besides our burgeoning film community is that we have fiber optic Internet connections, but another is the well-trained UL Lafayette graduates.

Jordan Alphonso is a 2009 alumnus from the Hub City's only four-year college. His concentration in computer animation has lead to Alphonso being lead artist for Pixel Magic. He and a team of UL graduates, along with one current student, worked on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II. Their job was to convert 24 minutes of the film into 3D.

Films are of course shot in 2D and it takes special training to go over the existing film and layer the graphics that allow it to look like Harry Potter's owl is coming straight for your face. It is time intensive and usually broken up into different teams, which also protects the film on-line spoilers (think terrorist cells). According to the press release from UL, Alphonso says, "We had our hands on about 420 shots from the movie, but due to it still being in post-production while we were working, about 95 or so of our shots were edited out of the film. For a movie to be released in 3D, you have to have two films that are exactly the same except shot from two slightly different angles (mimicking what the human eye sees). What those silly glasses do is separate your eyes so that your left eye can only see the left film and your right eye can only see the right film, giving the illusion that it is in 3D."

Creating 3D film is becoming more and more standard with blockbuster movies, so work is increasing, as is probably the carpal tunnel symptoms in jobs like this. The conversion process means that when an image is shot with only one camera an effects house goes back over and creates two new images based off of that one shot, so between those glasses and your lying eyes it seems like the movie is in 3D.

The satellite office of Pixel Magic in the LITE Center here is double the staff size in the L.A. home office with more work coming.