Open discussion about ILM and the magic they create. Also VFX and movies in general. Anyone can post topics here.

Moderator: malducin

Ben Morris wrote:When we first met we talked a lot of about techniques, old and new, and how we should aim to get as many in-camera effects as possible.

Man, I hate it when that button sticks. :P

I'm sorry, but do filmmakers just have this comment queued up to auto-play when making statements about any big action/spectacle/FX movie (no offense to Ben Morris)? I've lost count of the times I've heard that response - or a slight variation of it - in interviews, commentaries, articles, BTS, etc..
For literally any movie.
From directors/producers/SFX and VFX Supervisors/Production Designers/DPs, as if this method of using practical effects makes them unique against the onslaught of other similar movies.

Yeah, we get it, practical FX work is making a comeback against the "scourge" of CG-heavy movies. I'd be preaching to the choir if I wanted to mention that practical FX/VFX should work hand-in-hand together rather than be an "us vs. them" mentality. We all know that. And the filmmakers know that, too, so why do they keep re-serving the same response of something that should seem obvious? Yeah, duh, get as many effects in-camera as possible. That's pretty much always been the mindset of every filmmaker. Ever.

Show me an interview where a director said "You know, there's just not enough CGI these days, so my goal is to do everything with the computer". Because apparently there are filmmakers out there who say that, based on the number of times I've heard people regurgitate this "we're doing as much as we can practically"-response, as if to appease some hipster audience fanbase and assure them their movie will be different from others because it goes back to "old school" techniques.

Apologies if I'm coming off as a curmudgeonly old man, because I'm sure the talented artists did a bang-up job on this movie with everything from CGI to SPFX to make-up FX, but I just feel like I'm taking crazy pills every single time I hear a filmmaker or crew member say something obvious like this. :lol:

EDIT: To clarify, I have absolutely nothing against practical FX (obviously), or even the overall mindset of "let's do as much in-camera as we can". That's cool. Do as much for real, then augment with CGI. Use the best of both worlds. What I am taking issue with is the coating of pretension that often comes with public comments about it. Like, to me, it's inherent that a movie and its crew will want to do as much "for real" as possible. That's obvious. Every filmmaker in the last decade has made a comment like that. To do as much practically as possible... it's so obvious, that it seems odd that they feel the need to state it. It's like having an interviewee say "we didn't want to go over budget", "we wanted to treat our crew with respect" or "we didn't use living breathing dinosaurs". Like, duh.
Here's the problem Tyler: NDAs and the insular nature of the vfx industry lead to these type of "canned" responses like you mentioned.
Ian is better than the rest at asking the right kinds of questions(that's why I link to his pieces). That's important because otherwise you get really checklist responses. The kind of questions asked are at least as important as the answers, especially in a closed industry like the vfx one.

The vfx industry does themselves a disservice in the way they do publicity and market themselves, but they really have no choice. They don't own the properties. They are service providers and so are limited in what they can say.
I wish it were different. I wish the film studios would embrace and respect vfx artists as equals. Vfx has never been more important to the success of films, yet vfx studios have never been more marginalized. It is this really weird dichotomy.
I've said all of this before so I will stop. Things will stay the same or get worse until and unless vfx artists and vfx houses have more leverage with the film studios. It is all up to them to figure out whether they want it or not.
ShaneP wrote:Here's the problem Tyler: NDAs and the insular nature of the vfx industry lead to these type of "canned" responses like you mentioned.

It's not so much a matter of Ben's "canned" responses (because 99% of the questions and answers are wonderful). It's really just that 1% of the interview. "We should aim to get as many in-camera effects as possible", that he's relaying as instruction from Rian. It is quite literally JUST that phrase that rustles my jimmies. I'm not casting blame on Ian for that answer. Nor Ben Morris. It's this stigma in the industry that's become prevalent in the last 5 to 7 ish years. This bragging-rights attitude and fetishization of practical effects over the derided digital effects that's vomited over and over by everyone because...they want to appeal to the hipsters of the movie fan world, I guess?

It's a drinking game. Take a shot. You cannot listen to an audio commentary, read an interview or watch a behind-the-scenes featurette for a big-budget and/or action movie made after 2010 without someone (most likely a director, producer, lead actor or other key creative) making a claim or comment that seemingly is this "hey look at us"-mentality of using as many practical effects work as possible and stating that they limited CGI as much as possible. That's cool. Because EVERY movie does that. EVERY filmmaker is going to do that. It's gotten to the point where I've actually started jotting down notes and keeping track of the movies and comments like this. Heck, I came across an article earlier today where actor David Harbour was commenting on the fight scenes from Neil Marshall's upcoming Hellboy reboot.

“A lot of it [was] very practical, practical monsters and practical fights – not a lot of CGI.”

There's nothing inherently wrong with his statement. It's the attitude behind it that's troublesome. Why? Because we all know that there will be far more CGI than these interviews or comments would lead us to believe. Because this is, like, only the second time they've advertised an interview from the making of this movie, and both times have made DARN sure to hit the "don't worry, we'll be going old-school with practical FX and not using CGI"-angle. It just reminds me of how a crooked politician would boast about something that either only partially true or straight up incorrect as a way to calm the public.

I don't feel that it's an NDA issue. If they can say "we want to do as much practical", then they can also say "we're going to be using whichever method is best for the shot in question, be it practical or digital". :)

I don't mean to be this crazy guy on the street corner continually shouting about this stuff, because I'm honestly not on some vendetta against practical FX, but...this is a forum for level-headed movie fans who know a thing or two about effects work, so it's kind of the best outlet. :D
About the 'getting it in-camera' thing ... if you go back to FIGHT CLUB, Doc Baily is quoted as asking Fincher if he'd prefer the real thing or an animated explosion, and that Fincher said he'd take the animated one over the real thing every time. (I don't have the exact quote, because I just realized I don't have a copy of that CINEFEX anymore.)

Honestly, it is a legitimate thing to want to get it in-camera, because there is such pressure to let stuff fall to post. I get the impression some folks at studios would like nothing more than to use the live-action shoot in the most desultory way possible, to lidarscan and volume-capture the locations and cast, then be able to fiddle with stuff like composition and camera moves entirely in post. I imagine all that light-field capture stuff is going to play havoc with cinematographers, since issues like depth of field and framing can be worked out after the fact at a terminal, without regard or respect for any visual truth or integrity (I know, using integrity suggests something that is not a big commodity, but even so.)

It may seem like everybody says the in-camera thing like a mantra, but that is likely because everybody was freaking over the advent of the digital backlot that was predicted for so long, and freaking even worse when they realized the limitations of that approach, fearing they'd be stuck with it. Not saying that the approach can't work some of the time, but for all those times when it is inappropriate, you gotta put your foot down and say you're not going to play SIN CITY.

MY big bitch with stuff folks say has to do with why, if they want to do stuff in-camera, do they always wind up taking the blue skies and Kodachrome look of life away by the time the thing comes out of post? It seems like most all DPs hate blue skies (not just picking on modern ones, remember even Conrad Hall said something to this effect), but for me, that does a lot to ground the image in a near-unshakeable reality.
Ah so you're saying why spend so much time capturing something in camera if you're going to turn around and make it look like it wasn't?

Cundey! Bring back Dean Cundey! :P

Oh, one more thing since we are in the The Last Jedi forum....I disliked this movie. There were beautiful shots and some amazing vfx set pieces. But the characters and their stories: terrible. The first Star Wars movie I really disliked. I really liked Episode 7 by the way. There might still be my review here somewhere.

edit: Forgot to add: I LOVED the Porgs and the Force nuns.