Where is the Airbus comp?
This is an addendum to the conversation Josh and I had after he spent some time with the cars and snow shot.
There are several approaches to completing the DOG project 1) organizing all sequences and comps into a current working cut, 2) making a detailed breakdown of every task to estimate how much time remains until completion and now 3) describing clearly and specifically what’s happening on screen and the experience we intend to evoke. This is a zooming out, going more general.
In describing the experience we intend to evoke, I realize there is yet another level of zooming out that seems necessary. I want to articulate MY vision for VFX.
Accepted Practice, What Most VFX is About
Typically VFX either adds an object or process that didn’t or couldn’t occur in camera, (muzzle flashes, spaceships, etc.) or subtracts what did occur but isn’t wanted (visual distractions, copyrighted material or trademarks, errors, recognizable talent who didn’t or won’t sign a release).
Knowing how to achieve convincing additions and subtractions requires technical prowess – fluency with tools including software, cameras and workflows, and cognitive finesse – a passionate curiosity about reality. Real reality in contrast to screen reality or the rehashing of accepted practice in VFX, however trendy. Research into reality could include perception, language, optics, photography, drawing, painting, live performance, psychoactive drugs, extreme physical endurance, mediation, near death experience, etc. to develop a working theory or at least guidelines about what reality is and how it can be compellingly implied or suggested on screen.
Whether the typical VFX artist is satisfied with whatever her physics engine cranks out or is informed by her direct inquiries into the nature of existence is not clear, nor does it matter. What matters is how our own inquiries incite a fascination for VFX. My deep and adventurous relationship with reality seeks a robust channel for expression, and VFX is promising.
So Beyond, Art
Beyond addition and subtraction is a deeper virtuosity, a triggering of rapture. Enabling or facilitating a state of receptivity and then offering a nugget of mystery, a content rich burst of sparkling whoa!
I want to infuse the movie with story, I want story to leak out all over the place. Moments chock full of subtle but absolutely relevant detail. Even if only lightly assimilated in the first viewing, still enriching the vibrancy and authenticity of the experience subliminally, subconsciously, maybe through magic cinematic osmosis. Tolkien invented entire languages for the various races in the Lord of the Rings, his universe was dense.
VFX can offer unprecedented relationships, resonate with the non physical, initiate a journey beyond name and form and be a finger pointing at the moon. VFX can activate core knowing and convey radiant clues, perhaps under the guise of a relevant artifact / process or completely independent of accepted causality.
Enough ranting, getting specific.
The humble straight cut between shots is the simplest example of transcendental VFX. Juxtaposition of diverse content creates new meaning – usually to convincingly convey the commonplace, like a conversation between characters. A cut can either weld diverse shots into a seamless moment, jangle the audience catastrophically back into their mundane theater seat (if done without wit) or facilitate a bold epiphany – blast beyond the incidental imagery and audio. The act of cutting can make more meaning than the sum of the two chunks have apart.
Now imagine infinite editorial possibilities within a single shot – color, composition, movement, elements – altering almost imperceptibly to convey a precise feeling or mood, reveal specifics about a character or situation, anything.
I want to wield VFX with emotional virtuosity, playing with subconscious, conscious and super conscious perception, blending editorial with archetype.
In some sense this is ambitious, a step beyond suspension of disbelief. Maybe sideways more than beyond. Moores law will eventually democratize the realization of the hyper real, but art is much more than hyper realism. Art is not only where the fun is, but it’s a gambit to stay relevant regardless of when our current technical prowess is obsoleted by advancing technology.
That’s the potential I see in VFX, where I ultimately want to go. Rather than discoursing further from an abstract theoretical perspective, I am now ready to describe the DOG VFX scenes in detail, including all the nuances of story that will only be offered visually. Like echoes of dialogue spoken before the movie ever started.