VES Board Members Van Ling and Colin Campbell comment on Variety Article
VES Board Members Van Ling and Colin Campbell comment on David Cohen's Variety Article about "Deadly dull vfx undermining the biz" Visual Effects.
ALL THE VISUAL EFFECTS IN THE WORLD...
It has become apparent that there is a trend in the industry to view visual effects work as a technical commodity in the creative industry, rather than as the artistic process it really is. This view --often perpetuated by media reports citing the "exorbitant" costs of and over-reliance on VFX-- has had a significant negative impact upon how visual effects artists and facilities are treated, both in respect and in value. Some have even suggested laying the slump in box office receipts at the feet of "lackluster effects that are not drawing the crowds", which can directly lead to the idea that if expensive visual effects are not worth the price, then the artists who create them are not worth the cost either. Statements such as these are erroneous and do a great disservice to all of the contributors to the creation of motion pictures. A number of us who are members of the Board in the Visual Effects Society feel it is important to counter this notion by pointing out the obvious: both filmmakers and filmgoers know that all the visual effects in the world can't cover up poor storytelling. Studios and filmmakers need to rethink how they're using visual effects; they can't count on big innovations in visual effects alone to carry films.
We are now capable of producing any image storytellers can imagine. The pure amount of visual effects consumed by audiences on a weekly basis is enormous. Commercials, television, and film as well as video games are full of both the spectacular and the subtle in terms of visual effects and image manipulation, all made possible by both advances in creative techniques and technological efficiencies. But audiences already assume that anything and everything are possible. Similar designs and techniques have been overused to the point of audience fatigue. Nothing is magical if every thing is magical.
But to say that visual effects are no longer wowing audiences like they used to and are thus undermining the business is to reduce the VFX art form to being just a novelty, just another transient trend in keeping viewers' attention. Such a viewpoint is erroneous and insulting to all parties: to visual effects practitioners who put their amazing creative talents into realizing a filmmaker's vision; to screenwriters, for whose work visual effects should be considered a creative tool and partner rather than a crutch; and to audiences who understand that compelling storytelling is a collaboration of sight, sound, character, and emotion. Visual effects are not just a novelty, where it's about pushing the envelope and upping the ante; it's about having worthwhile content in the envelope to begin with, and betting on the skills of talented filmmakers in all departments to realize that content. Used wisely, visual effects are a creative force-multiplier that allows the storyteller to help bring their vision to its full potential.
As VFX professionals and as proud members of the Visual Effects Society, we wish to challenge filmmakers to focus on creating compelling stories, but more importantly, we would like to encourage all of Hollywood --as well as all content creators who want to use the power of visual effects-- to let us help them make their projects better by using our creativity, and to see us as valuable collaborators instead of just technicians hired to push through the work. We wish to point out that visual effects have made tremendous strides both technically and creatively over the decades in service of their visions, and that while we're still innovating and improving, the biggest improvements will come from combining our imaginations and abilities with great narratives and engaging characters. A good story well told will inspire visual effects artists to not only meet a filmmaker's wildest expectations, but to exceed them.
Visual effects practitioners are among the most passionate and creative talents in the industry, because we often start from nothing more than a few words and an imagination, from which we create characters, worlds and images that have to perform in concert with the wonderful work of our peers in editing, production design, cinematography and other production arts. Visual effects artists and facilities have already been doing their part in bringing the magic to the business. We can now bring virtually anything to life that can be imagined, and the "pipeline innovations" that may seem pedestrian behind the scenes allow us to do it better, faster, and more cost-effectively... which in turn makes it possible for visual effects to be one of the most powerful tools in any filmmaker's palette, whether the project is a small indie or a studio blockbuster.
Visual effects are not a trend, a fad or just a necessary technical cost or process devoid of creative artists as its practitioners. We are made up of valuable, knowledgeable and professional artists, supervisors, producers, and technicians who work together with every department on a project from development through post, who only want filmmakers to bring us great stories, engaging characters, and strong visions, so that we, in collaboration with cinematographers, production designers, editors and all of our fellow members of the creative team, can help realize them.
To our fellow members: whether you agree or disagree with these sentiments, please let the VES know your thoughts. Together, we need to find ways to change perceptions and be seen as the experienced professionals we are and the valuable collaborators we can be.
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