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WHY I LIKE THIS VIDEO: Kurosawa was a master filmmaker, relying on image to convey his emotions. How he captures emotions with this imagery is conceptually brilliant. I could watch this video a hundred times and always learn more.

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VFX Video: Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning

February 29, 20243 min read

The Evolution of Visual Effects: From Forced Perspective to AI-Enhanced Realities in Filmmaking

Visual effects (VFX) have not just transformed how we experience movies; they have revolutionized the very art of storytelling. Over the last decade, VFX have evolved at a breakneck speed, morphing from the subtle use of forced perspectives – think the magical size illusions in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings – to today's sophisticated AI creations that blend seamlessly with live-action. In this blog post, aimed at filmmakers and enthusiasts alike, we'll explore this incredible transformation and engage in a discussion about the nuanced role of VFX in cinema.

From Middle-earth to Machine Learning

The cinema of the early 2000s, such as Peter Jackson's epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, made extensive use of forced perspective, a technique that creates an illusion of scale by positioning actors and objects within the same frame at strategically different distances from the camera. This old-school magic trick allowed characters like Gandalf and Frodo to appear vastly different in size, despite being filmed together in the same shot.

Fast forward to the present day, and VFX is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to create effects that were once thought impossible. Machine learning algorithms now assist in everything from character creation to scene composition, allowing for the detailed simulation of physical realities that push the boundaries of the audience’s imagination.

Emotional Connectivity in the Age of Spectacle

A key point of discussion concerns the balance VFX must strike between awe-inspiring spectacle and emotional resonance. The question is, how do filmmakers ensure that VFX do not overpower the human element, the authentic connection that audiences seek with characters and their journeys?

Filmmakers are now acknowledging that while stunning visuals are important, they must serve to deepen the narrative, not overshadow it. VFX should aspire to enrich the emotional fabric of the story. What good is a colossal explosion or a fantastically rendered creature if it doesn’t contribute to the viewer's emotional investment in the characters or the plot?

Discerning Audiences and the Quest for Authentic Connection

Today's audiences are more astute than ever. The CGI tide has carried us to a juncture where viewers can almost instantaneously discern between VFX that enhances a story and those that are included merely for visual titillation. They yearn for stories that weave VFX into the actual human drama and not just as impressive, yet empty, visual feats.

For instance, the somewhat extravagant uses of CGI in past blockbusters, though visually impressive, have often been criticized for lacking substance, for creating spectacles that disengage the audience from a deeper narrative experience. A glitzy VFX sequence devoid of emotional depth may wow the crowd momentarily, but it seldom leaves a lasting influence.

Conclusion

The tools at our disposal as filmmakers have never been more powerful or more capable of bringing our wildest visions to life. But they come with a responsibility. We must ask ourselves whether the VFX serve the story and help convey its emotional heart. Does it help the audience forge a stronger connection with the characters onscreen?

We invite you to share your thoughts on this evolution.

  • How do you think you can strike the perfect balance between VFX and narrative?

  • Have you experienced moments when VFX took you out of the story rather than drawing you in?

  • In what ways can VFX be employed to genuinely engage audiences in the story?

Filmmaking is, after all, the art of visual storytelling, and VFX are among the most vibrant colors in our palette. It's up to us, the filmmakers, to use these colors judiciously, enhancing the essence of our stories and cementing the emotional connections that bind audiences to our creations.

filmmakingVFXstorytelling
blog author image

Michael Mandaville

Michael is a writer, filmmaker and dedicated World War II historian who studies martial arts, action films and is learning more about VFX every single darn day. Oh and a Scholar Warrior

Back to Blog

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blog image

VFX Video: Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning

February 29, 20243 min read

The Evolution of Visual Effects: From Forced Perspective to AI-Enhanced Realities in Filmmaking

Visual effects (VFX) have not just transformed how we experience movies; they have revolutionized the very art of storytelling. Over the last decade, VFX have evolved at a breakneck speed, morphing from the subtle use of forced perspectives – think the magical size illusions in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings – to today's sophisticated AI creations that blend seamlessly with live-action. In this blog post, aimed at filmmakers and enthusiasts alike, we'll explore this incredible transformation and engage in a discussion about the nuanced role of VFX in cinema.

From Middle-earth to Machine Learning

The cinema of the early 2000s, such as Peter Jackson's epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, made extensive use of forced perspective, a technique that creates an illusion of scale by positioning actors and objects within the same frame at strategically different distances from the camera. This old-school magic trick allowed characters like Gandalf and Frodo to appear vastly different in size, despite being filmed together in the same shot.

Fast forward to the present day, and VFX is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to create effects that were once thought impossible. Machine learning algorithms now assist in everything from character creation to scene composition, allowing for the detailed simulation of physical realities that push the boundaries of the audience’s imagination.

Emotional Connectivity in the Age of Spectacle

A key point of discussion concerns the balance VFX must strike between awe-inspiring spectacle and emotional resonance. The question is, how do filmmakers ensure that VFX do not overpower the human element, the authentic connection that audiences seek with characters and their journeys?

Filmmakers are now acknowledging that while stunning visuals are important, they must serve to deepen the narrative, not overshadow it. VFX should aspire to enrich the emotional fabric of the story. What good is a colossal explosion or a fantastically rendered creature if it doesn’t contribute to the viewer's emotional investment in the characters or the plot?

Discerning Audiences and the Quest for Authentic Connection

Today's audiences are more astute than ever. The CGI tide has carried us to a juncture where viewers can almost instantaneously discern between VFX that enhances a story and those that are included merely for visual titillation. They yearn for stories that weave VFX into the actual human drama and not just as impressive, yet empty, visual feats.

For instance, the somewhat extravagant uses of CGI in past blockbusters, though visually impressive, have often been criticized for lacking substance, for creating spectacles that disengage the audience from a deeper narrative experience. A glitzy VFX sequence devoid of emotional depth may wow the crowd momentarily, but it seldom leaves a lasting influence.

Conclusion

The tools at our disposal as filmmakers have never been more powerful or more capable of bringing our wildest visions to life. But they come with a responsibility. We must ask ourselves whether the VFX serve the story and help convey its emotional heart. Does it help the audience forge a stronger connection with the characters onscreen?

We invite you to share your thoughts on this evolution.

  • How do you think you can strike the perfect balance between VFX and narrative?

  • Have you experienced moments when VFX took you out of the story rather than drawing you in?

  • In what ways can VFX be employed to genuinely engage audiences in the story?

Filmmaking is, after all, the art of visual storytelling, and VFX are among the most vibrant colors in our palette. It's up to us, the filmmakers, to use these colors judiciously, enhancing the essence of our stories and cementing the emotional connections that bind audiences to our creations.

filmmakingVFXstorytelling
blog author image

Michael Mandaville

Michael is a writer, filmmaker and dedicated World War II historian who studies martial arts, action films and is learning more about VFX every single darn day. Oh and a Scholar Warrior

Back to Blog