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GLUE looks at the use of VFX in film

Following up on the brilliant visual essay written by RocketJumpFilm School, GLUE gives it’s two cents on state of VFX in film and when to mix practical with computer generated effects.

Earlier this week we posted a fantastic video about the Visual Effects (VFX) industry from RocketJumpFilm School (RJFS) on our Twitter account @GLUEVFX

The video went about trying to dispel a lot of myths associated with VFX. When it’s done right and when it falls short of the mark, sometimes by quite a margin. You can find the original video below.

RJFS raised some wonderful points which we would like to delve into.

There’s no denying bad effects can take you out of a film, it can be distracting and break the illusion the filmmakers can be working hard to create but this visual essay brings attention to the VFX becoming the main point of blame, it can be the easy target.

This may happen as often people are unaware what is CG or real and “CG looks bad because we only see bad CG” and “Great visual effects serve story and character and in doing so are by their very definition invisible”.

Mad Max Fury Road VFX Breakdown

VFX can be flawless at creating some objects and environments and is steadily getting better at characters but it should not be used as the main tool for a film. VFX is a tool to be used in tandem with other aspects of filmmaking. An important key is “understanding the strength and weaknesses of what the computer can do and playing to those strengths.”

There is an idea growing that going back to special effects (practical effects) leads to better film and there is some truth in this. It is using practical effects when it best suits and then the VFX often does it’s job so well it is completely unnoticed.

Mad Max Fury Road VFX Breakdown

GLUE has already discussed some of the merits of Special Effects and Visual Effects in an earlier blog which can be found here.

Even in films which are lauded for using practical effects or avoiding greenscreen often have more than the viewer may imagine. If we take Gravity as an example it is often stated that green screen was not used but that does not mean that all the elements were practical.

In some scenes Sandra Bullocks suit was fully computer generated (CG).

This appears seamless as we can see in the gif below. It was playing to the strong points of VFX, recreating her head to be photoreal could be a difficult task in particular with such a recognisable character (Although not impossible, follow the link to see how Arnie was recreated in Terminator Genisys here and some really nice Facial animation tests from Blur Studios.

Gravity suit breakdown

They were aware when are where to use the different tools available to them and the CG does it’s job of adding to realism and remaining invisible.

If you would like to look into this topic more you can find the official discussion here ( ).



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