Moviemaking has all kinds of special effects in it: physical effects, pyrotechnic
effects, makeup effects, sound effects and more! Some characters, such as
robot R2-D2 from "Star Wars" can be all of those things at once in certain
shots. I don't do any of those effects. I do visual effects: the adding
or removing of stuff in the frame after the real world stuff has been shot.
CGI animation as opposed to hand drawn (cell) animation. Meaning I can't
draw Mickey Mouse. But neither could Walt. He was so self conscious about
that. Yet he was Mickey's voice!
Even on a fully CGI 3D rendered
movie like Pixar's "The Incredibles" there is an entire visual effects unit
doing things like electric zaps and explosions. The difference is I only
work in photorealism and I've done it for all the studios, even RKO, and
I didn't know that was still a thing!
OF THE BEST:
The best movie I worked on was "Holes
for Disney and the worst was "All
" for ... I don't want to think about it! Nevertheless "Holes"
is, in my opinion, the greatest live action movie the studio has ever done!
When I saw the finished version at the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard
I said to myself "I could get run over by an ambulance tomorrow and have
completed my life task!" Who wouldn't have wanted to work on a very fine,
unusual ensemble picture with something constructive to say about racism
and caring. Name another Disney branded film where multiple race based murders
occur? Boys loved the book, it made its money back while in theaters, and
young males who saw the movie at the time may now be showing it to their
own sons. I KNOW they are! When I tell twentysomethings I animated "Holes"
they are very appreciative.
OF THE WORST:
"All About Steve" may be the worst studio feature
I worked on when it comes to the final product. But the VFX pipeline and
our work was structured and challenging with no tech hiccoups. The worst
movie to work on behind the scenes (technically) was, by far, "Red
." Starring Carrie Anne Moss (shown at left brandishing a laser),
it featured actor Val Kilmer getting into a fight with co-star Tom Sizemore.
They are both unbearable creeps who should not be hired for anything anytime
(except Tom is dead now thank goodness. Kilmer is lingering alive but in
physical suffering. So that is good.). These two narcissists refused to
work together and had to be composited into sequences from separate shots!
This added to the burden on an already VFX heavy movie.
up was Carrie Anne Moss show at left brandishing that laser targeting device
(LTD). She was wearing wires on a nothing shot where the set was lit all
saturated blue. She refused to wait for the wire people to un-rig her. She
demanded to do the shot with a huge shadow of a wire on her face. John Mesa,
a very talented VFX super, had to tediously try to get rid of it using nothing
but blue pixels. Yuk! Carrie Anne also refused to do a topless "getting
out of the shower" shot. What can I say, the movie needed a little cheesecake
for the nerd boys! She refused and wore pasties for the shot. This
meant animator Dawn Hunt Brooks had to spend a month creating a fake 2D
nipple, making it look wet, and applying it to her friggin boob. Talk about
Carrie Anne being a time wasting, money wasting boob!
effects" shots that involve removing something are the most trying of all.
If you do your job right nobody knows. You have to point it out on your
demo reel. Meanwhile I was horribly struggling with the math behind my shot
file formats. It took me one day to make the shot and three days to try
to convert it properly between linear and logorhythmic file formats and
blah blah. I just wanted to do my shot not worry about file format conversions!
Remember this was the year 2000 so the tech was primitive.
Jeff Okun was driving to FOURTEEN VFX houses in LA at the time to get the
job done. Then Digital "Titanic" Domain totally botched its big studio job
and small boutique houses had to fill in the gaps caused by their incompetence.
And they were the biggest house in town at the time!
All to make
a movie only fitfully entertaining. Oh, fun fact, because the lousy script
had one astronaut kill another NASA refused to have anything to do with
the movie. No tech help, no images of planets, nothing.