‘Peter Rabbit 2’ director Will Gluck gets the most out of his Surface devices, both professionally and personally

In “Peter Rabbit 2” – as in the original movie – the human actors often share the screen with talking animal counterparts, such as Peter Rabbit and his sisters. But since these smaller co-stars are animated, the actors had to use their imaginations in these interactions. Fortunately, director Will Gluck had a valuable tool to make this easier for them.

“The great thing about the Surface Book 2 is that you can detach the screen. I could walk into the set with the actor and show what they are up against. That was a big breakthrough,” says Gluck, who filmed the film in Australia pre-pandemic and has consistently upgraded his Surface devices.

“Peter Rabbit 2” is now in theaters after being delayed due to the pandemic. “Instead of taking a laptop with you, you would take this tablet out and show the actors in the scene with them. And then, we could post some facsimile of what they were looking at. The most important thing for me is to be able to untie and draw on it. And take it to the actors and show them. We used to do that on the iPad. But then it’s just an iPad. The fact that I come back and it’s my entire computer, I love that.”

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And he didn’t just use Surface on set. It was used extensively during his editorial process for the film. Gluck co-wrote the script on a Surface Book and Surface Studio. Once in principal photography, he made and did the visual effects on the movie with Animal Logic in Australia. He would fly to Los Angeles once every two weeks for the weekend. During those long flights, he edited the film and viewed visual effects footage on his Surface Book 2. He would also use Windows Ink as part of that process to annotate the artists working on the film.

Back in LA full-time, Gluck edited the entire film at Surface Studios while the editors were in Sydney. They were constantly video conferencing as they went through the edits.

Every day he connected to them over a fiber optic internet – another improvement he believes has made remote collaboration attractive and doable.

“The first thing that struck me in recent years was how fast fiber optic internet has become. There is no later and no more latency. It’s practically real-time,” says Gluck.

ABOVE: Actors on set interacted with cut-out animal shapes later replaced by animated characters.

The other thing that helped his process was the size of the Surface Studio screen and the fact that it could display in 4K.

“I see the exact colors that I would see back in the editing room, and that makes a huge difference because before, you were just editing on another screen, and then when you see it, it’s different, but this is the same.”

Since the pandemic began, Gluck — also known for directing “Annie” and the first “Peter Rabbit” — says he’s received many calls asking how his team finished a feature film remotely.

“Before the pandemic, everyone was a little bit afraid of it. Fortunately, the technology already existed,” says Gluck, because besides his team, he can also work on the road and in the oceans. “I was very used to it since I made two films this way. I learned things then that people are only learning now.”

Everyone at Gluck’s company has original Surface Studios on their desks and Surface Book 2 laptops running Office 365.

Director Will Gluck and his team worked extensively on the film using Surface devices on set and remotely.

His house is full of Surface devices (a combination of Surface Book 2 and Surface Book 3 laptops, Surface Studios, and Surface Headphones). His family also has Surface Go devices that control a Crestron Smart House/AV system. And now his kids are fans too.

“There’s been a paradigmatic shift because my kids were Mac kids, but now they’re working on Surface Studio at home. My oldest daughter has a clothing line and designs in the Surface Studio,” says Gluck. “My other kid is always designing and drawing, and she’s always doing it on the Surface Studio too. She likes being taken off the screen, using pend, and havhavingrkspace.”

While the post-pandemic landscape is still emerging, Gluck knows it’s a very different world than it was a year ago.

“It’s a huge adjustment for people like me who make movies for the cinema. And now we all realize that movies are all streamed now, but movie theaters aren’t going away. But now we can work remotely, and this happened more or less before the pandemic, but the pandemic has only accelerated it.”

All images are from Sony Pictures

On-screen and behind the scenes

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Director Will Gluck (center) on the film set.

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Director Will Gluck (center) on the film set.

Denis J. Graham
I have always been an avid reader, but after graduating college and getting into the job market, I decided to start writing because it was a good tool to help me express myself. As someone passionate about traveling, I hope to inspire others to get out there and see the world. I write about travel, books, fashion, beauty, and more.