Bringing Magic To Life: Interview with Matt Johnson from Mary Poppins Returns
I’m still coming down from a total “fan girl” moment. I recently had the honor of interviewing Mr. Matt Johnson, the VFX (Visual Effects) Supervisor for Mary Poppins Returns. With the help of hundreds of others, Mr. Johnson helped create all of the magical moments you see within the film. Keep reading to learn a little more about Matt Johnson, his role in bringing Mary Poppins Returns to life.
How It Began
Mr. Johnson grew up a Mary Poppins fan. After viewing scenes from the film during the Wonderful World of Disney program as a child, Johnson knew he was going to work in VFX from the age of 6.
Fast forward to present day, Johnson was tasked with the honor and great responsibility of creating the magic for Mary Poppins Returns. His initial response could be likened to “oh boy…. golly!” Knowing he would be creating a film associated with so many childhood memories created a great amount of pressure. However, trepidation aside, Johnson had faith in Rob Marshall (Screenwriter) as the team all worked hand-in-hand to create a new classic.
From pre-production to post-production, Johnson plays an essential role in every part of the movie. Throughout pre-production, Johnson is responsible for determining how to “make the impossible happen”. During filming, he is on set advising and making sure his team has everything they need to create any visual effects. Once the film enters post-production, Johnson “creatively steers the film” and makes sure that the director’s vision is fulfilled.
Johnson had a hand in all the magic on set. From the bathtub to the animated scenes, all of these required the use of visual effects. However, there were also less “obvious” effects that Johnson employed for Mary Poppins Returns- “One of the biggest things for Mary Poppins is the film is set in 1934 in London and London doesn’t look very much like 1934 anymore. So whenever you’re looking at London, we’ve probably gone in and removed some skyscrapers […] or darkened something down. There’s a lot of invisible visual effects work that we did.”
Viewers of Mary Poppins Returns and the original Mary Poppins will note the sense of nostalgia the new film incorporates. Johnson kept the audience in mind throughout production. Very much in the fashion of the original film, Mary Poppins Returns incorporated all of the newest and cutting-edge technology. However, to maintain the feel of the original various traditional techniques such as hand-drawn penguins were still utilized for the new film. “It needs to feel like Mary Poppins but actually, when you look at it, it’s moving in a very fluid, dynamic, and very contemporary way,” Johnson said.
Listen to the full interview and find out more about how Matt Johnson helped make Mary Poppins Returns one of the most magical films of our time!
Mary Poppins Returns arrives in homes instantly on Digital 4K Ultra HD™/HD andMovies AnywhereMarch 12 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD March19—with a sing-along version and never-before-seen bonus features.
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