VFX

Life After Pi Short Film

Why Watch? As movies become more and more reliant on visual effects, the cracks of a problematic industry model have started to tear the fabric of how CGI artists can continue to do what they do best. If you kept an eye on the Oscar protest yesterday, or remember Rhythm & Hues winning last year for Life of Pi a week-and-a-half after going bankrupt, you know how dire the situation is. With a full, fascinating picture (and some magical CGI transformations), Life After Pi offers the fundamental problems in a startling fashion. It’s a matter of passionate people being asked to do impossible things. And yet, think of what might happen if VFX workers were united in a refusal to work. To take back the power calculated directly from the major studios’ reliance. If you can’t make billions without the team that creates your cape/tiger/talking raccoon/disaster sequence, shouldn’t that team be worth more? Shouldn’t their workers be treated fairly, not have to live out of hotels, and not be forced to work 100-hour weeks? If altering your production means adding more construction money and acting fees, shouldn’t it mean adding to your VFX budget? It’s one-sided, certainly, but Life After Pi is a vital half-hour for all movie fans to watch.

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Life of Pi Without VFX

Several companies at the top of their game have now gone bankrupt, hundreds protested outside the Oscars, the Jaws theme added insult to injury, and it all adds up to the VFX industry being in trouble. But how can something so central to modern filmmaking be struggling to stay alive? If blockbusters earn billions on the back of stunning CGI wizardry, why are the best in the business failing? Industry veteran Jim Hillin joins us to explain it all in simple terms and to offer a few solutions in the face of a complex, dire situation. Plus, Geoff and I share a few big visual effects moments that changed movies by delivering real magic. For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #9 Subscribe Through iTunes

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Life of Pi Tank

Dear Mr. Lee, When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film Life of Pi as incredible as it was, you said: “I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].” I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money. It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

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UPDATE: After speaking with the head of WETA’s marketing, we can confirm that the sizzle reel mentioned below was not WETAs. Again, this IMDB posting should be taken at arm’s length, and there’s also the possibility that Rothbart got the effects company wrong, but if these scenes are real, they are not the work of WETA. Original posting follows: There was never much doubt that Man of Steel would have a comic book feel. It was only slightly less guaranteed than it looking like a Zack Snyder movie. The Warners mulligan on Clark Kent is set for theaters in June of 2013, but apparently WETA just showed two scenes as part of a sizzle reel that played at a fancy gathering with smoked salmon and a bunch of visual effects artists. Allegedly, one of those effects wizards, Jonathan Rothbart (Avatar, Priest, Iron Man), posted a description of the scenes on the film’s IMDB message board. He was pretty excited. Here’s what he (spoilerifically) had to say:

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Visual effects are an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of film making. It’s surprising that VFX has traditionally been one of the last things considered in budgeting/schedule and VFX houses often get the bad end of the money stick when it comes down to the last minute studio changes. But this year’s VFX Oscar nominees (Avatar, District 9 and Star Trek) are all great examples of how being mindful of the importance of VFX can gain your film box office and Oscar success.

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Iron Man and Bolt Getting Love from the VES

The Visual Effects Society put their heads together to nominate the best in visual effects from this year. I’m sure you already have some things in mind as for what you would nominate, but be prepared for some surprises too.

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published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C
published: 11.18.2014
B+
published: 11.14.2014
B+


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