The arts have enchanted Ranran Meng from the time she was a child. She began drawing at a young age, encouraged by her parents and Chinese culture. She exposed herself to many different mediums, such as water color, sketching, and traditional Chinese painting. She loved being able to take a blank canvas and create something extraordinary. As she grew, she began to explore different ways of creating a visual masterpiece and found a passion in graphic design. She loved being able to create anything she wanted on a computer and dreamed of one day showing her work to the world. It wasn’t long before she found a way to fuse her passion for the arts and love for movies into one and set out to become the celebrated compositor she is today.
Now, Meng enjoys being able to work on the most prestigious projects possible, from award-winning films and television shows, like The Deuce and Fahrenheit 451, to iconic video games including The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR Experience, to national commercial campaigns for globally recognized brands, such as Microsoft.
“It is the highlight of my career to be involved in such great projects on a daily basis. I love the movies and television shows, and I enjoy contributing to their success and leaving my footprint on the industry,” she said.
Meng’s work has been pivotal to the success of many distinguished projects, including Showtime’s hit mini-series Escape at Dannemora. With an all-star cast including Academy-Award winning actors Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora is based on a true story and tells the story of an employee at a prison in upstate New York who becomes romantically involved with a pair of inmates and helps them escape.
“It was based on the true story, so it felt very real to be a part of. I like true stories because they let me know that events like this happened in the real world. They let us relate to society and people, really allowing us to understand motives and circumstances, even more than fiction,” said Meng.
Meng’s role was essential to the post-production process of the series. She set up all the shots that needed working, setting up scripts and all plates and elements needed for every single shot, giving clear and organized instructions for all the other VFX artists. This allowed for an organized working environment.
On top of this, Meng was also responsible for beauty work for the characters. This involves eliminating wrinkles and imperfections on close-up shots of the actor’s face. This takes practice, as it has to look completely natural so not to distract the audience. This also meant adding blood and bruises during the battle scenes, something she enjoyed immensely.
“I did something new on this project, not like what I have worked on before. I worked on one of the character’s bodies when he got shot and used new tracking techniques for scene cleanups. It was interesting. I am happy I could learn new stuff and experience different aspects of VFX with this project. That is always the goal,” said Meng.
Escape at Dannemora premiered on Showtime on November 18th, 2018. It won several awards, including a Golden Globe, where it was also nominated for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, a tremendous honor for Meng.
“I am very glad to see this project is successful. I am happy to be part of bringing a true story to audiences all over the world,” she said.
Meng has evidently come a long way from that little girl in China who enjoyed drawing with a dream of one day showing her work to the world. Now, she does just that on a daily basis, and has many exciting projects lined up, including the highly-anticipated Mr. Rogers bio pic A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, starring two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Meng loves being able to do what she loves every day and is glad she never gave up trying to reach her dreams. She says that it is the key to her success and encourages those looking to follow in her footsteps to do the same.
“You have to be patient. Compositing is not short-term work; every shot may take days or weeks to finish. If you are not patient, you will very easily get annoyed. Ask questions, there is always a better way to do something, and your way may not be the best way. You are surrounded by a team, utilize them. You have to improve yourself, you will never know everything there is to know,” she advised.
Be sure to check out Escape at Dannemora to be captivated by this true story and enchanted by Meng’s VFX work.