Having completed over 250 films in five languages, editor Anthony doesn't seem to curb his excitement as he talks about his upcoming project, the biggest of his career.
2.0, the Rajinikanth-Shankar-Akshay Kumar magnum opus, releasing on November 29, is also the young editor's first 3D project. Having worked with Shankar in films such as Sivaji, Nanban, Enthiran and I, Anthony says has developed a unique connection with the director. Not that it has made his work on 2.0 any less challenging. In a chat a few hours before the big release, he talks about the sci-fi epic.
You have worked with Shankar and Rajinikanth in Enthiran. What was the biggest challenge you faced while editing its 'spiritual sequel'?
Enthiran too was a film on a giant scale and it presented its own set of challenges. But with 2.0, the challenges were very different. For one thing, it is shot completely with 3D cameras, placed specifically for the left eye and the right eye. This makes editing quite tough because we have to wear 3D glasses throughout the edit while watching the rushes on a 50 inch 3D television. This puts a lot of strain on the eyes, especially since we spend several days working on the film.
Usually, I take a five-minute break after every hour of editing. But for a 3D film, we worked continuously for three hours and then took one-hour breaks before we resumed. It requires that kind of rest to avoid headaches. Also, while viewing 3D 'Window Shots' (where objects appear to come close to the viewer's eyes), the editor has to estimate how long the shot should last in order to register the impact on the viewer. He has to cut it at just the right time. Doing this for hundreds of shots in the film was another major challenge.
Did you have to use any special software to edit this film?
No, I used the same Avid editing software that I use for other films.
Apart from the 3D factor, how different was it to edit a film with such heavy Computer Graphics (CG) work?
Editing the CG shots requires a process of 'pre-visualisation'. This means that the editor has to mentally evaluate how much time a particular CG action will take on screen and keep that time-frame in an empty space allotted. Such gaps are left empty because the CG work will be added on later to the filmed portions. But this process of filling the empty spaces later involves several rounds of re-editing in co-ordination with the CG companies. Now imagine thousands of such CG shots and you will get an idea of the scale of our task!
It's not like shooting with a green mat at the back. We have to factor in entire characters that were created in CG. In some cases, certain characters have extensions, extra make-up and movements that were re-created using CG. So the pre-visualisation of the actions, some of which I haven't even seen before, has to be accurately placed by me.
It's a long, time-consuming process involving a lot of estimation and technical know-how. Working on the film for nearly three and a half years, you can imagine the scale and the efforts put in. Compared to working on Enthiran, I would say we used double the time for editing this film.
Did you need any preparation before starting out?
No, the basic editing is still the same. It's just the technical know-how that had to be acquired. For a normal 2D film I would watch one clip of a shot. But for a 3D film I would have to watch the left eye and right eye shots separately and join them to bring out the effect.
With such humongous expectations from the project, did you feel the pressure while editing? If so, how do you handle it?
I myself am a huge Rajini fan so it's easy for me to put myself in the shoes of the audience while editing. I know how they will react because I myself clap, whistle and scream in excitement when I see Thalaivar…even if it's on my editing screen. For a Rajini film, I let them savour specific shots like when he's walking towards you in his inimitable gait and when he gives you certain expressions.
What has Rajini sir said to you about this film?
He asked me how it was looking and I told him it has come out very well. I get very excited while editing his films but I am learning to control that now. In fact, during Enthiran, when I saw him walking in the desert in a slow motion shot, I yelled and whistled like a fan and immediately called him up excitedly. But now I am learning to contain my excitement and enjoy such moments on my own without disturbing him!
After working on so many of Shankar's films, are you both in perfect sync? What is your working process together?
Shankar sir always sits with me during the edits. The interesting thing is, he himself gets excited like a fan, in total admiration when he sees a particular Rajini shot. We both have that in common.
We have lengthy discussions as we work, accompanied by his assistant directors and my editing assistants. We all discuss the film and shots together and come to a conclusion. As far as 2.0 goes, we trimmed the film around four to five times, as and when we received the CG shots. It was a long process.
What was the most challenging decision you had to make while editing 2.0?
I think it was the fixing of the interval block. Between the first and second halves of the film, there is a point which is the heart of the film. In 2.0, the 'point' in the middle, so to say.
After seeing the film so many times, will you watch it on the big screen again?
Absolutely! I will be seeing it first day, first show at IMAX or at Sathyam. The audience reactions will give me the biggest high.