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Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 4:55:30 PM
by mumtaj begum
Eirick takes down the enemy in Vikingdom.
Shah Alam doubling as Scandinavia? Vikings roaming in Malaysia? When it comes to CGI, nothing is impossible says Vikingdom director Yusry Abdul Halim.
EVER since his directorial debut in 2006 with Cicak Man, Yusry Abdul Halim has been pushing the envelope in terms of visual effects in local films. When everyone else had just one or two shots of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in their films, Yusry gave Cicak Man almost 2,000 shots.
Well, now he may have just put himself way ahead of the race yet again with his ambitious CGI-laden project titled Vikingdom, which is out in cinemas on Sept 12. The film has consumed him for the past two years, spending at least 16 months concentrating on the post-production portion – Vikingdom has more than 3,000 complex visual effects shots integrated into it.
“The thing is, Vikingdom is about a Viking, so it’s supposed to take place in a Viking land, but we shot the whole movie in Malaysia. So, we had to change the background, add soldiers, create monsters and a lot of things that have never been done before,” shared Yusry who is relieved that the film is finally ready for release.
Produced by KRU Studios at a price tag of more than RM20mil, Vikingdom is a fantasy action-adventure based on a Viking poem and starring Australian actor Dominic Purcell (TV’s Prison Break). Purcell plays a Viking king named Eirick, who must defeat one of the most powerful Roman Gods in order to ensure his people’s way of life is not destroyed.
To take down Thor (the God of Thunder who owns that powerful hammer), Eirick must, literally, go through hell and face all sorts of demons and impossible challenges.
Inserted within all this action is a love story between Eirick and Brynna (half-Norwegian, half-Malaysian actress Natassia Malthe).
Most of the film was shot in sound stages in Kuala Lumpur, with some outdoor locations including Shah Alam, where a massive battle scene was filmed.
Yusry noted that this may be the first time anyone attempted to shoot a Viking-based story in a tropical country. (The Vikings were from Scandinavia – Denmark, Norway and Sweden.)
“Everything is either rebuilt physically or on a computer,” said the director.
“We can always shoot this in Australia or the United States, but a studio is still a studio. And, I thought our outdoor location was good enough as we can add-on via post-production and pass it off as Scandinavian climate.
“But, the overall reason we did this is to put Malaysia on the map in terms of making a film like this.”
Yusry and his team didn’t come to this decision without doing extensive research beforehand.
His brothers and partners at KRU Studios – Norman and Edry Abdul Halim – flew to the Scandinavian countries to recce, visit libraries to read up on Viking lore and speak to the locals.
Of course, once there, they also found that it was extremely expensive to shoot the film in places like Stockholm, compounding the fact that it just makes more sense to shoot it in Malaysia.
Having gathered all this information, Yusry and his team broke down the script, focusing on all the fanstastical elements by having hundreds of illustrations to guide both the cast and crew during the filming process as to exactly what they are seeing on the green screen.
“The studios were not a big problem as we can control the temperature... (but) the outdoor locations, especially in Shah Alam, which is a bit desert-like, was a bit tricky for the actors.
“We shot a long battle scene in the hot weather. We shot for about 10 days. That was tough. Even the horses needed to be placed in air-conditioned tent and we could only shoot for 30 minutes (per session) before they had to take a break. We didn’t want any of the animals to die on us, and luckily nothing happened.”
For the final battle scene, 100 extras are manipulated with CGI to appear as though thousands of soldiers are on the battlefield. Same goes for the horses and the background.
“The white sand can pass off as snow, but we can still see palm oil trees in the background so we needed to take that out,” Yusry explained.
When asked if he is happy with what he has achieved in Vikingdom, he answered: “CGI is constantly evolving and there is always room for improvement. With any movies that takes two years to complete, there are things I will do differently now. But that’s not always a good thing because you might be overthinking it.
“Overall, I am happy with the visual effects in Vikingdom. I am pleased with it.”
For the post-production work, Yusry had a team of 50 people. While Yusry handled the visual effects on some of the more creatively-challenging scenes, he left it to his team to work on the majority of the film; he only tweaked some scenes towards the end.
“For Cicak Man, we had three people working on the visual effects, including me, so, obviously, I had more sleepless nights. Now, I have 50, I probably did about 20% myself.”
While the post-production process can go on for months and requires utmost dedication, Yusry claimed he prefers working in
“When you are in post-production, what you tell the computer, it does. (As opposed to) production, there are always things that you can’t really control,” he concluded.
Vikingdom opens in cinemas nationwide on Sept 12. It is set for a US release on Oct 4, and will also be distributed to Australia and New Zealand.
Natassia Malthe, the beautiful warrior
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Tags / Keywords:
Entertainment, Vikingdom, Yusry Abdul Halim, KRU, Cicak-Man, Dominic Purcell
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