Algonquin College animation grad could share an Oscar

Life of Pi is up for 11 Oscars, including best picture and best visual effects and that nomination has Algonquin College and Gatineau connections.

On Sunday night, a man who was born in Hull, grew up there and graduated from Algonquin College's animation program in 1995 could share in an Academy Award for his role as an animation supervisor on Life of Pi.

Former Gatineau resident and Algonquin College animation program grad Ian Blum could bring home some hardware at this Sunday's Academy Awards. (CBC)

The Ang Lee film is an adaptation of Canadian author Yan Martell's 2001 novel about a shipwrecked boy who shares a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thought by many to be unfilmable because of its fantastical scenes, Life of Pi's visual effects are due in part to Ian Blum. It could garner Blum a share of the film industry's highest honour.

Visual effects for film and television are created by animators working for the most part on computers, but Blum and his animation team nearly hit the fish market to get a sense of what one might look like hurtling through the air for the flying fish scene.

"I actually had never seen a flying fish until … this show so we took as many fish references as we could and then used our imagination," Blum said. "When (the fish) were hitting the boat and hitting Richard Parker, we didn't have a reference for that so we almost did go buy fish and (throw them) but we eventually kind of figured it out." 

Blum, who now lives in Los Angeles, said the work is exhausting but enjoyable and always exposes him to something new. Life of Pi was no different and Blum said he learned a lot about tigers and how they moved from experts that producers brought to the set.

"It's a lot of analysis of film and we actually had an animal trainer on the movie," Blum said. "He would look at our stuff at first and he gave a lot of good feedback."

While some will walk the red carpet to take in the awards in person, Blum has decided on a low-key night with friends and colleagues who worked on his animation team. They plan to watch the Academy Awards at a bar in Vancouver.