Michael Creates Movie Magic

Michael Creates Movie Magic

The glitz of Hollywood came to West Suffolk College recently when a leading visual effects expert came to talk to Media Production students.

Michael Harrison has worked as a lead compositor in visual effects on films from Harry Potter, Bourne Ultimatum, Guardians of the Galaxy, Total Recall and the Revenant to the latest Pirates of the Caribbean and several Dr Who series. The list is endless and everyone will have seen his work on the big screen.

With 20 years’ experience in the industry Michael, who lives in Suffolk, showed a packed theatre of Level 3 Media Production students his show reel and talked about how he got into the visual effects business working on top films.

He told students that they needed to be keen and not worry about getting their hands dirty. He said when getting opportunities in the business they need to ask the right questions, but not be a nuisance and understand that one small idea realised well is better than a mass of not so good ones.

Michael, whose latest project is Pirates of the Caribbean 5, said among the films he was proud of working on was the recent Jungle Book film where he created a 360 degree cyclorama when the forest caught fire and he had to create all the backgrounds and the flames.

He also enjoyed working on Great Expectations, taking film of a modern setting and replacing the backgrounds to look old and atmospheric. In the Harry Potter film The Prisoner of Azkaban millions of cinema goers will have seen his work where the werewolf howls at the moon.

“Seeing it on screen makes it all worthwhile,” he told the students.

At the end of the session he answered lots of questions and was impressed with the students who had paid close attention to his talk. “I thought it was really good, they all asked very constructive questions really wanting to see how they can step up to the next level”, he said.

Media Course Director Ben Pryke said “It was such a privilege for us to have Michael visit the college and speak with our students. I first met Michael a year ago whilst working alongside him for two weeks. I watched in awe as he meticulously created the cyclorama for a pinnacle scene in Jungle Book, Michael is top of his game and teaches students around the globe in the art of VFX.”