VFX is an incredibly dynamic industry. So much so that even the trends within its gamut are short-lived. Indulging in a cogent discussion on the latest trends in the visual effects domain presents its own unique challenges. Cutting edge technologies and innovation renders most trends that are happening today, obsolete tomorrow.
Keeping up with such a fast pace industry is a daunting task. Nevertheless, certain patterns and norms are predominant within the vertical and are expected to remain pertinent for the foreseeable future.
Filmmaking is a sophisticated process that involves multiple stages. Myriad processes have to be executed before the film finally finds its way to the editing room. To simplify the overall apparatus, filmmakers are closely working with their special effects partners in order to deliver upon customized results.
Previously, filmmakers would simply handover the raw files to their visual effects team with standing instructions on what changes were to be made. Today, this practice has been replaced by close collaboration between the studios and the directors who work hand-in-hand every step of the way. This new norm is especially useful when the directors are trying to pioneer never-seen-before effects in their films such as James Cameron in his Terminator series.
One of the more popular decries against filmmakers these days is their incessant dependence on CGI. To counter this, prudent directors are consciously striving to strike balance in their work. This is vividly apparent in the modern classics such as Interstellar, Dunkirk and Mad Max – movies that successfully merge the best of both worlds. Serendipitously, the fusion of the old with the new techniques has led to some of the most breath-taking moments in modern cinematic history.
The tools and modes of creation in the VFX industry are constantly evolving. New software and machines are thronging the domain on a regular basis. Every time a new technology is ushered in, it affects changes across the “assembly line” of the special effects production process.
Before the advent of visual effects, filmmakers would employ alternative techniques to achieve their ends. Often, this involved shooting the backdrop with a real camera and then editing the same later using cut tools. Unfortunately, the finished product was sloppy and the patch-up work was readily detectable on screens.
Over the decades, every movie or project that has pushed the boundaries of special effects has served as a trailblazer innovating unprecedented techniques.
With tremendous advances that we have made in the field of visual effects, we are rapidly approaching a scenario when the presence of the human element is rendered redundant. Today, special effects can create an entire character or person on the silver screen from scratch without the benefit of real-life actors.
After the untimely demise of Paul Walker, the actor made an appearance at the end of the Fast and Furious film. The entire scene was digitally manipulated by combining a body double with a shot that had been taken earlier. The expressions on the face of the late actor were also digitally engineered.
Similarly, in the movie Blade Runner 2049, the character of Rachel was wholly created with the help of CGI. There was no human element used.
While it may certainly be presumptuous of us to assume that visual effects could render the gamut of film-artists superfluous, there is no denying that modern special effects are behind some of our most memorable experiences inside the movie hall.
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