Inside Our Special Effect Department
Once a movie is declared a "wrap," the hard work of the crew, cast, and the cinematographer is over. The movie is then passed to a highly competent and creative staff known as "the post-production." Working closely with the director, the post-productionists add and adjust edits, color, and effects. It is at this point that most films define themselves. The gloss and detail that this process adds changes footage from a raw home video into poignant filmmaking.
The Late Train Productions' special effects department prides itself as the place where the vision of the director and the imagination of the artists come to life on screen; the launching pad that transports a viewer into another world created inside of the movie.
In Kung Pong II: The Pupil's Return, these effects were used to the 'T.' With a few adjustments, Late Train post-production transformed a simple ping-pong game between roommates into an ultra-realistic Kung-Fu-flavored battle to the death between an aging Ping Pong master and his paddle-welding pupil, Ling-Mau.
The film is the much-anticipated sequel to 2002's Kung Pong.
Late Train Post-Production Manager Paul Whitener Jr. comments on the raw footage.
During the busy post-production process, the following effects were added.
- The Editing - The five seconds of footage were cut by five editors using a large coal-powered film-cutting turbine that trims frames to .0001 mm accuracy, and rejoined with a wax-based paste and a three-day hardening session in a kiln at 475 degrees.
- Colorization - A team of fourteen color experts (known as "tone whisperers") used an exhaustive process to make the movie exist in a palette of green. The team constructed a 14'x26' wall of immaculately smoothed plaster, and painted it a shade of lime. The movie was then exported, frame by frame through an overhead projector and onto the wall. Each frame was then recorded by an experimental digital camera, made and calibrated by Sony specifically for The Late Train. Each frame was then re-imported into the leading film reconstruction software, placed back in their appropriate order, and rendered using the collective processing power of forty-two conjoined computers.
- The Ball - Special effects wizards competed by submitting different proposals for the ball. One proposed the scripting of a "time-warp" computer program that would "smear" the ball across the screen. Another suggested a crumpling technique that would implode the frame toward the ball. The winning idea makes use of simple and time-tested techniques with miniatures and green screens. The ball glows, jumps, and shoots lightening, because it has actually been replaced in the footage by a smaller scale model of the ping-pong ball that was exposed to highly unstable isotope of uranium.
- The Final Blast - This effect was outsourced to a film studio in Bollywood, India that explicitly specializes in Ping Pong effects. Again green screening is used. The footage is a blurred combination of the filmed blasting of a plasma rifle and a stuntman being hit by a flaming ball of twine that has been catapulted at close range. The stuntman received third degree burns.
- Widescreening - The widescreening committee soaked and stretched the movie on titanium film looms.
After seven months, two weeks, and 3.5 million dollars, all of these techniques work together create the visually amazing clip below. Dreams have not only been realized, they have been forged through inspiration and perspiration. Again, Paul Whitener Jr. comments.
Kung Pong II: The Pupil's Return remains unreleased by The Late Train Productions because it is stupid.