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Are visual effects today just too darn boring?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker


 
Lola Visual Effects’ ‘skinny Steve’ shots from Captain America: one of the counter-examples chosen by fxguide’s Mike Seymour in response to David Cohen’s claim that much of the thrill has gone out of modern VFX.

Mike Seymour of fxguide has posted an interesting response to a recent article from David Cohen of Variety, in which Cohen laments that much of the thrill has gone out of visual effects in the past five years.

“Compared to 2005, [VFX news] is boring and sad,” writes Cohen, who argues that most of the main current industry trends are either economic, or “beneath-the-hood improvements”, not technical breakthroughs.

Bored with VFX?
In rebuttal, Seymour points to developments happening outside the movie industry, including Tandent Vision Science’s extraordinary Lightbrush technology, and Adobe’s remote editing system Adobe Anywhere.

More crucially, he responds to Cohen’s observation that “recent movies haven’t made me think, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before'” with a list of ‘how did they do that?’ moments from the past six years.

Most of them – Inception, Avatar, the ‘skinny Steve’ shots from Captain America, and the like – are spot on.

It’s the economy, stupid?
And yet, it’s also worth reading the whole of Cohen’s article – which seems to have been posted as much in sorrow as in anger in the wake of Digital Domain filing for bankruptcy.

In it, Cohen observes that former DD CEO John Textor’s analysis that there’s just not enough money in VFX any more has proved essentially accurate – and that the people who suffer from this are artists, not management.

That does leave a nasty taste in the mouth – and not one that recent movies, good though they are, can erase.

Read David Cohen’s full article

Read Mike Seymour’s full response

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  • meat puppet

    This line sums it up nicely. Executives and managers commit their companies to huge risks while protecting themselves from personal consequences. Meanwhile employees feel the pain when things go bad. I think we’d be better off in the long run if we heard more howls of “I’m ruined!” from executive offices. Personally I feel that VFX should be brought back in house to the production studios. Keeping a staff of 50 – 100 VFX artists should be standard practice and only outsource to smaller studios on a per project basis as needed. This model of ILM does 20 shots and whisky tree does 6 and image movers does 10 all on the same film is for the birds and clearly it’s not working.

  • caveman

    I think the vfx industry will consist of a few giant shops backed by movie studios to take on big chunks of work, and a whole bunch of small facilities to feed on bits and pieces of leftovers or low-end tv work. Most semi-large to mid-size studios will be squeezed to death by movie studios and all gone.

    In the meantime, millions of students are flushed out of career colleges into the vfx market to be exploited by various shops by offering a big movie credit but low pay.

    So that leaves all artists a question, how do you adapt to this situation? Everyone has different answers, but so long as you have a job that allows you to maintain your life and/or family, which probably means everything to you in the end.

  • Dan

    Maybe it’s because the people who do the innovating, the software developers, are treated like garbage. The artists wouldn’t have jobs if it weren’t for them, yet they do the most thankless job in the world, people steal their software, and say “What’s wrong with that?” Their told to stop bothering people with their upgrades and incessant innovations. A little bitter maybe.

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