Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A world without visual effects?

The Oscars event this Sunday was marred by conflict between major studios and the visual effects houses they employ.  This conflict was brought to the forefront of movie news after Rhythm and Hues won an Oscar for their work on the "Life of Pi".  As they were about to mention a VFX protest taking place outside, the theme from "Jaws" kicked in- ushering them off the stage.

The "Jaws" theme- which was intended to inform receipiants that their acceptance speeche was going over their alloted time, has caused some controversy in itself.  It's use in this case has only served to further engrage people inside and outside the VFX industry.

Despite the high quality of work they did on "Life of Pi", and "Avatar," Rythm and Hues has had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  A German VFX house, Pixomondo, had to shut down their London and Detroit offices after the Oscar winning work it did on Martin Scorsese's "Hugo".

What good is an Oscar when you wind up having to close up shop and stop doing what you love to do?  The conflict arises from the fact that the major studios want things done cheaper- so as to increase their profits, while the VFX houses want fair payment for the work they do.

When you consider that "Life of Pi" would pretty much have consisted of a man sitting in a boat in a tank of water with a stuffed toy without visual effects, can you really blame them?  That's right- the whole movie was pretty much CGI from the tiger to the sunsets and scenery.  Movies like "Alice in Wonderland", "Transformers," "The Avengers," would never have looked the way they did without the hard work that VFX houses do.

As a movie fan, I greatly admire the work and artistry that goes into visual effects- from the simplest spurt of blood during a gun battle in an action film to the rolling armies of orcs in a fantasy film.  I think it would be sad if VFX houses were pushed to extinction because Hollywood's greed was more powerful than the desire to give their audiences quality movies to enjoy.

So, if you wish to support the VFX houses, change your Facebook avatar to a "green screen", and show the world pictures of what your favorite movies would look like without the dedication of the VFX houses.

"Alice in Wonderland" without a VFX house.
 Source: Cinema Blend
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