There have been some recent articles that I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of very soon.
Warner Bros. according to the LA Times is delaying the release of a Green Lantern trailer because so much of the VFX work isn’t done:
But beyond an early trailer released last November that studio executives acknowledged was poorly received by fans, there hasn’t been any promotional material yet for “Green Lantern,” which stars Ryan Reynolds. The reason: The movie’s intricate 3-D visual effects, including numerous scenes set in space and featuring aliens, are taking longer than anticipated.
Hop director Tim Hill also complained to the LA Times about how those pesky visual effects almost prevented his film from being released:
that’s when we got into the “Oh [crap], are we going to make it?” And they [animation and effects studio Rhythm & Hues] finally said, “We’re not going to be able to deliver your movie.”
Along the same lines, Variety reports that the quality of VFX work is taking a hit because of compressed schedules:
Ray Feeney of RFX, one of Hollywood’s leading technologists, said, “I believe the quality of what has been delivered to the motion picture screen has gone down over the last few years
I’ve been hearing murmurs of some of the VFX coming out for a few films this summer. While there will be films with spectacular high quality vfx, there will be many films with some very very bad vfx. I’m talking about so bad that it will make you wonder why couldn’t they just have hooked up an xbox and take screen shots from a bad video game instead.
But for studio executives who cares? If people are foolish enough to pay for low quality 3D why wouldn’t they pay for bad quality vfx?
Has VFX Become The Fouth Letter?
The recent articles blaming vfx for some potential failures reminds me of a joke probably many of you heard in the Hollywood industry.
A newly appointed studio executive sits at his new desk to find a note left by the previously fired studio executive. It says:
In the drawer to your left are three letters labeled 1, 2, and 3. Open each one sequentially whenever you find yourself in trouble.
A month passes and a big film flops at the box office. He opens letter 1 which says:
Blame your predecessor.
A couple of months later he realizes all their summer releases were failures. The studio executive opens letter 2:
Blame your marketing department.
At the end of the year things are still really bad and he finally resorts to opening letter 3 which says:
Write 3 letters.
Perhaps in this case it’s time to add “blame the VFX company” to the letters studio executives write when things go wrong. To tell you the truth I’m pretty happy to see facilities stand their ground. It’s about damn time. It’s an improvement to the situation we had almost 4 years ago when a producer gloated in Variety:
The VFX Relationship Is Changing But Not Going Away
For Hop director Tim Hill there seemed to be plenty of warnings from R+H about the ability to finish the film:
Our visual effects producer said he thought we were really going to be cutting it close, but he said it early on and I think he may have said it too many times, because we stopped listening to him. [Laughs.]
The production got to the point where Tim Hill wasn’t even allowed to give notes:
We were at a point in the movie where I’d get maybe one or two chances to comment because we were so far behind. Usually you have eight or 10. There were a couple of times where they said, “This is it; this is your shot.” Just so they could meet their deadlines.
Look if studios want iterative control over the quality of vfx and eliminate executive overhead then crew vfx artists to work for the studio directly. Companies like Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar do this. In the Huffington Post, post production was listed as one of the 10 dying industries. However if you read the details you’ll find the reason why post production facilities are dying:
Technological advances, particularly involving the widespread adoption of digital media have adversely affected the industry’s range of services, from editing and animation to archiving and format transfer. While the use of this technology is becoming widespread, it is undercutting the industry’s services since production companies can now do much of the work in-house.
Variety reported on the success of Universal’s in house Studio Operations:
“This suite is the new playbox for post-production,” Jenkins says. “It used to be that color timing was all done in a lab with chemicals, but now it’s all done on computer. It saves time and money — and provides instant gratification, because once they are done here they can just walk over to the next department and get started on that next phase of post.”