I have always had the philosophy that solid film making comes from the discipline of old school, in-camera imagery through means of camera work, lighting, acting and special effects. The final product being the result of something tangible. Films that I loved as a kid such as E.T., Indiana Jones and Terminator had a certain magic attached to them because what we were seeing on screen was solid and real, not pixels formed into a 3D image by (highly technical) post production manipulation.
I believe I formed this opinion after nearly being put in a coma by Transformers 2 and ruining a piece of my childhood by watching the Star Wars prequel series. (Although I know everybody loved Jar Jar Binks). Please Mr. Abrams bring the magic back!
All kidding aside, There certainly are benefits to the new age of post production visual effects in the cinematic realm. Worlds are created that one could not fathom seeing on the silver screen such as the alien planet in James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Impossible situations can be played out such as the relationship between the tiger Richard Parker and his human boat-mate in Ang Lee’s “Life Of Pi.”
As we move into the future, the thought of actors possibly being completely replaced by 3D imagery makes one wonder if characters such as Gollum may even come alive without the incredible talents of Andy Serkis. I for one, am hoping that audiences will continue to see real value in the raw truth of human emotion on screen stripped of all the post production manipulation.
Though my ideal vision of the film world is that of cameras going back to the days of actual celluloid, Digital Cameras are now being sold at the consumer level with the capability to shoot 4k raw imagery (Incredible for VFX). The digital age is here to stay and now I say it’s time to embrace it, in all of it’s high definition glory.
Through my personal experience as a filmmaker I have found that mixing props, objects and real locations with visual effects can greatly enhance it’s effectiveness when done properly. When filming in front of a green-screen, previsualization is key. Nobody wants to guess where the camera angles, movement and blocking are when 80% of the frame is filled with green during the take.
A general rule of thumb during the execution of any production is to prepare for the worst but when working with visual effects no filmmaker wants the end result to look like a Sci-fi Channel original mockbuster (no offense). So preparation is key, and also have a little faith in our brothers and sisters in the post production room (cave). Things are being done nowadays that defy the imagination and the people behind it most definitely deserve the recognition of the audience and their peers.
Jason Kent Carpenter Is an award winning filmmaker and the founder of Tiger House Films, a film and media production company based in Los Angeles California.