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Making movie magic

Photo courtesy of Patswitch Jaritngarm

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A Thai visual effects artist is making movies in America

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Read the following story by Suwitcha Chaiyong from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Most of the images on Hollywood screens look incredibly real. It’s getting harder to tell which effects are real and which are computer-generated.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Think of some of the objects in your favourite movies and TV series — Doctor Strange’s cloak, Spider-Man’s suit in Spider Man: Homecoming or the White House in House of Cards. All were created by visual effects compositors — including Thai artist Patswitch Jaritngarm.

“I blend live action shots and CGI in order to make the images believable. In House of Cards, many scenes are shot using green screen. For example, when a character looks out of the window of their car, everything they see is computer-generated,” Patswitch told Life during a recent trip home to Thailand. “The job is challenging because we have to make every frame look realistic. If not everything is perfect, it will look fake.”

AWARD-WINNING WORK

After working in Hollywood for only a year, Patswitch became a member of the VFX team that was nominated for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects award at the 2017 Oscars for its work on Doctor Strange

“I didn’t expect us to be nominated. The visual effects in Doctor Strange were very difficult to achieve because they were so detailed. We had to add and remove things frame by frame, examining each pixel closely and carefully,” he explained. “One of most difficult effects was the magical cloak that Doctor Strange wears. On set, Benedict Cumberbatch wore short scarves which I later had to remove and put the cloak in instead.”

Patswitch started working in the US after earning his master’s degree in visual effects from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2015. He won first place in the VFX Short Subject category at the Spring Show, a showcase for graduate students. This resulted in him getting a job offer in the US.

“I researched what the portfolios of people who get job offers look like and tried to make mine meet that quality. Many companies come to the Spring Show to recruit new people and I was lucky enough to get an offer. My first job was at Framestore, where I created effects for TV commercials,” Patswitch said.

Working in the US is a dream for many people. But talent is not enough. The most successful people are the ones who can adapt to the new culture. Patswitch used to be a quiet person. He had to change his attitude to show people what he can do.

“In Thailand, we are taught not to stand out because people may hate you for it. But in the US, everyone has to speak up, present their opinions and show off their abilities,” he explained. 

In the US, companies are open to accepting employees from any society. But you must have a company sponsor you for your visa and work permit.

“It’s difficult to get recruited if you apply from Thailand. The best way to get a job offer in the US is to get a university degree there,” Patswitch advised

MORE MONEY LESS PROBLEMS

The visual effects teams in Hollywood are the best in the world. They can create monsters, wizards, aliens, flying trains and even entire cities. How do they do it?     

“They have loads of money. American movies are screened around the world and the biggest releases make a lot of money off tie-ins as well. With so much money, they can hire the most talented and experienced people. And the film industry in the US is huge. They’re always developing new techniques and constantly trying to improve.”

If Thailand had as much money, could we become second to Hollywood?

“There’s more to it than just money. We would have to hire professional VFX artists to train people. Experience is another factor. Compared to the past, visual effects in Thailand have improved, but we still need to work on the details,” Patswitch concluded.

Section 1

Read through the story and answer the following questions. 

1. What is Patswitch’s job? …………….

2. When were his team nominated for a VFX Oscar? …………….

3. How long had he been working in Hollywood by then? …………….

4. In which city did Patswitch study? …………….

5. He won first prize in a graduate showcase competition. True or false? ………….....

6. What did he work on in his first job?

a. Doctor Strange. b. House of Cards. c. TV commercials.

7. Where are the world’s best VFX teams? 

a. Thailand. b. Hollywood. c. The story doesn’t say. 

8. What does Patswitch say about Thai VFX?

a. They’re second to Hollywood. b. They need more work. c. The story doesn’t say.

Section 2

Underline one grammatically incorrect word in each of the following sentences. Then, write down the grammatically correct word in the space given. 

9. He always want to work in this industry. ……………

10. The most success people are the ones who adapt ……………

11. You must to love drawing and photography. ……………

12. Compositors need patients and the ability to meet deadlines. ……………

13. Companies will offer me a contract if they are satisfaction with my work.” ……………


Section 3

Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

Things don’t always go as ….14…. as he would like. ….15…., Patswitch has never considered giving up. “I ….16…. to feel discouraged. I was a top student at university, but when I started ….17…. in the industry, I discovered that ….18…. were many people more talented than me,” he said. “But all the obstacles make me stronger. Improving and maintaining your qualities is so important, especially as a ….19….. .” 

14. a. smoother b. smooth c. smoothly

15. a. Nevertheless b. Also c. And

16. a. use b. used c. had

17. a. the work b. work c. working

18. a. their b. they’re c. there

19. a. freelance b. freelancer c. freelanced

Section 4

Specify whether each of the following words is used in the story as a verb, adjective, noun or adverb.

20. believable …………………………

21. closely …………………………

22. graduate …………………………

23. quality …………………………

24. sponsor …………………………

Answers: 

1. Visual effects compositor.    2. 2017.  3. One year.   4. San Francisco.  5. True.   6. c.  7. b.    8. b.

9. want; wanted   10. success; successful  11. must; need/have  12. patients; patience

13. satisfaction; satisfied 

14. c. 15. a. 16. b. 17. c. 18. c. 19. b.

20. adjective. 21. adverb. 22. noun. 23. noun.   24. verb. 

SCORE

21-24: Excellent! 17-20: Good.   13-16: Fair.   12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!

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