The marriage behind the movie magic - the husband and wife team who make Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters
Nic Lim and Shae Lyn See, both 35, recently worked on Top Gun: Maverick, which is up for six Oscars at the upcoming Academy Awards, including Best Visual Effects.
The couple, from Malaysia, met more than 14 years ago during a VFX apprenticeship programme and it wasn’t quite love at first sight.
Nic said: “It was more like competition at first sight!
“We were told that not all of us on the apprenticeship would pass the training, so we were focused on doing our best, being better than the rest, and not getting kicked off the course.”
Luckily, they both excelled, passing with flying colours, and have been together - personally and professionally - ever since.
Their careers have taken them all over the world, including Malaysia, India, Singapore, China, and Montreal.
And they now work for Framestore, the British Oscar and BAFTA winning, global visual effects studio famous for bringing characters like Paddington, Rocket Racoon, and Iorek Byrnison to life.
They also helped create the worlds of Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Blade Runner 2049.
Shae said: “The way I describe it to my friends is you know when you see Spider-Man behind the scenes acting against a green screen.
“We replace the green screen with buildings, sky, clouds, wind, computer-generated characters, the lot, to make it look like that was the way it always was.”
Both agree that Top Gun: Maverick is the highlight of their careers and were excited to work together with an incredible array of talent across the production.
Nic said: “How could you not be? Real jets, aerial stunts, the US Navy helping out and Tom Cruise!
“I was particularly awed by one shot where a jet that we reskinned later to be the Darkstar [the hypersonic test plane Cruise flies in the film], flew over a security hut leaving an epic shockwave in its wake, blowing the roof off.
“It was the perfect marriage between real flight action, cinematography and invisible visual effects.”
But the pressure of working on Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel of one of the most iconic movies of all time was not lost on either of them, as they hoped to impress the film’s director Joe Kosinski and on set visual effects supervisor Ryan Tudhope.
Shae said: “We spent hours watching real explosions on YouTube to make sure our work was as real as possible.
“Sometimes during the initial flash of an explosion, it lights up and then darkens the exposure of the shot, tiny details like that are essential to making everything look life-like.”
Nic has a lot of respect for the FX artists he worked with on some of the film’s most technically challenging shots, like the gut-wrenching moment Tom Cruise’s plane takes a missile hit for his wingman Rooster.
He said: “The backbone of a great explosion is a really good visual effects simulation.
“These get rendered out and our role is to put them in our comps, integrate them into the real footage and make them look like it actually happened.”
As the visual effects supervisor in charge on Top Gun: Maverick, Ryan Tudhope is nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar and will be attending the ceremony on Sunday night (March 12).
He said: “It literally takes an army of amazingly talented individuals to create invisible, seamless work that when audiences are watching in the cinema they don’t realise it is there at all.
“It leaves fans free to experience a story, feel all the tension, excitement and emotion that a film like Top Gun: Maverick has by the truckload.
“Anyone who loves film should consider a job in visual effects, there is an extraordinary range of roles.
“Hundreds of Framestore visual effects artists will work on a movie like Top Gun: Maverick and we are always looking for talented people like Shae and Nic.
“While I can’t promise you’ll meet the love of your life, you’ll definitely meet some of the most remarkable people and experience some of the proudest moments of it.”