Marvel Studios' blockbuster 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' was a nostalgic joy-ride in the neighbourhood of your friendly spiderman. Some even claimed that the movie saved cinema from oblivion after the financial damage wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But very few are familiar with the artists who worked behind the screens to perfect this visually stunning movie. Interestingly, one of them is Arman Haque, whose roots - unbeknownst to most of us - are connected to Bangladesh.
The Business Standard caught up with Arman, to let people know more about the brilliance of this Bangladeshi-Australian man, and his journey to becoming the VFX artist he is now.
Arman Haque is a 25-year-old Melbourne-based lighting artist specialising in VFX and animation. He is the founder and Creative Director of Moral Studios which is an indie design and animation studio. The studio's vision is to transform culture through inspirational, educational and entertaining storytelling.
Of course, a high-budget franchise like Spider-Man won't have an amateur on their team, so yes Arman had prior experience working on significant projects.
"Previously, some favourite projects of mine to work on were Jumanji: The Next Level, the upcoming Fengshen Trilogy, and Peter Rabbit 2. Furthermore, I quite enjoyed working on some advertisements for Coca Cola, featuring their mascots Afu and Ajiao," said Arman.
Arman loves storytelling and exploring new creative and technical ways to tell unique stories. Other than that, he is passionate about archery and horsemanship. He even works as an archery instructor in his downtime.
"For as long as I can remember, I had an interest in art and design. I remember watching early movies such as Marvel's Ghost Rider and the original Spiderman trilogy. I was amazed at the effects I was seeing on screen, and I wanted to know how they managed to make a character with a flaming head or a villain made of sand."
He was only 12 when he downloaded his first 3D software: 3D Studio Max. He read borrowed books and followed any online tutorial that he could find for the software.
"From there I was given more opportunities to refine my skills to what they are today."
At first, he was not even interested in lighting. He was fond of making the characters and environments for shows and games. It was only after being in VFX for a couple of years that he discovered the importance of lighting in making amazing visual effects.
"After I started working in this field, I understood how important good lighting is to the final look. Lighting is an interesting part of the process. It's the first time you get to see the entire shot rendered together. And the process has a nice balance of creativity and technicality."
The visual effects of the latest Spider-man movie were sublime in one word. In a digital era, a VFX expert is indeed an artist, who can turn any dystopian tale into manifest reality. It was Arman's first Marvel movie and he was delighted to have the opportunity to work with such talented teams. He described the experience as "surreal."
"Seeing our team's hard work on the big screen in a story so many people loved and looked forward to was incredible. There is plenty of problem-solving and new things to learn when working on a project like this," said Arman.
While working on Spider-Man, Arman was at Luma Pictures, a studio that has an ongoing relationship with the Marvel franchise and is also known as one of the best VFX studios based out of Melbourne. Luma Pictures lighting team brought together an incredible bunch of artists from across the world to work remotely on the project.
"We not only had artists from Australia but all the way from South Korea, America, Italy and other places as well."
He added, "The team and films I worked on provided some great growth for me in my skill sets and experience. My supervisor would often take the time to assist me one-on-one through difficult shots or challenges, and there was a good sense of teamwork and support."
Arman's father is from Bangladesh and his family is originally from Dhaka.
"Growing up I was brought up as a Muslim, and was surrounded by the great food and clothing you find from the South Asian culture."
The last time he visited Bangladesh was in 2004 for his uncle's wedding. Since then all of his relatives have moved to different places in the world.
"As everyone in my family has moved abroad, I visit them there often. However, I would love to go to Bangladesh again one day."
We then asked Arman if being an Asian-Australian by any means affected his career.
"I've been very fortunate and haven't experienced any severe challenges being an Asian-Australian. There are great and close communities in Australia, especially amongst the Muslims."
However, he does acknowledge the challenges that exist for many immigrant people and hopes that they can get the opportunities they deserve.
At the end of the conversation, Arman shared his future plans with us.
He stated, "You can look forward to seeing more of my work in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. I'm planning to work on more projects related to animation and would love to expand my experience and skills, perhaps even produce my animated projects one day, given the opportunity."