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Joseph Tese

Relationship between Production and Post Artists

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I watch some modern trailers and movies, and I think, Geez! This looks 90% CG. So CG, that I wonder what the thought process / workflow was between production DP and Post Artists.

As a DP, how do you envision the final CG imagery in order to ensure it matches the look and feel of what you are shooting? How do you ensure that the CGI elements don't conflict with your lighting style - And is there a visa versa to that? Obviously, detailed story-boarding and animated pre-vis are a must? What do those steps look like, linearly? On these large budgets, who are the key members involved in bridging this creative process?

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Posted (edited)

the vfx supervisor tends to be the key link between vfx post and the Director +DP +production designer+ producers etc. production company hired staff. depending on the production and post workflow there may be varying amounts of post production staff and multiple separate companies may do the effects work overseas if that's more cost effective than doing everything in-house or hiring a local company for doing all the vfx. If you look the end credits of a major Hollywood action film you may spot even dozen different companies who did parts of the vfx work (certain types of work they are good at, for example roto work or character animation or landscapes and buildings or fire and smoke effects and other particle effects etc.) and then there is the companies who did the 'basic picture post' like online and grading, normally one or two companies. there tends to be one or multiple post producers per company which do the deals and control the scheduling and client communication etc and then there is artists which do the actual effects work. the vfx supervisor may communicate the artists directly or via the post producer or other management staff of that particular company. linking the director and artists directly together would be very counter productive and slow because a single artist may do only a small part of the final image and the director's intentions need to be translated to actual vfx tasks which may need to be spread to multiple artists or even multiple companies so it mandates having a technically experienced but still artistic person in between them (the vfx supervisor) to find out what actually needs to be done and how it is easiest to archive and what it would cost to do and who will do it. 

sometimes the cinematography-related artistic decisions are overrun by the director or producer and the cg department so that the end result looks unrealistic (for example the cg background being completely unnatural looking and screaming fake because it being completely in focus when the foreground and other elements show that it must be out of focus if it would be real... that is actually relatively common in movies to have these unnatural fake looking composites seemingly because they want to show the small details in the background which would not be possible if it being slightly out of focus)

Edited by aapo lettinen

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2 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

sometimes the cinematography-related artistic decisions are overrun by the director or producer and the cg department so that the end result looks unrealistic (for example the cg background being completely unnatural looking and screaming fake because it being completely in focus when the foreground and other elements show that it must be out of focus if it would be real... that is actually relatively common in movies to have these unnatural fake looking composites seemingly because they want to show the small details in the background which would not be possible if it being slightly out of focus)

This is an example of what sparked my initial question. So do you feel like it's common that the DP's opinion is over-run? Are we still early in CG realism where proper workflow is not established? Should the DP be consulted more during the post VFX work? Or - it seems like that's entrusted to the supervisor.. At the end of the day, could a DP cringe at some of the imagery being produced if sticks out like a sore thumb? Is it still his/her creative territory or input?

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26 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

My relationship is, we got married and have a 6 year old now.

Nice. Do you argue whether to make it in post or production? 🙂

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When the good Lady Wife Paint and Roto Artist, her indoors - worked on movies I was always shocked to here how much was left in production for post to clean up.

Some productions lean heavily on post, shots that you'd expect would be green screened are hand Roto'ed in post to save time on set and avoid setting up and lighting the green screen properly. Although it sounded like there was a lot of sloppy greenscreen lighting practice on the movies she worked on, most comps would need some for of roto to fix.

I think schedualing's a factor these big movies hitting a release date. E.g visual effects would be happening parallel to the edit. Resulting in shots being worked on and composited even if they don't make the cut.

More efficient thought and set and world flows probably give better results. But on these comic book movies - they have 1000's of VFX shots, so they have to put 1000's of VFX artists on it simultaneously. Its often not a case of one person being able to own an artistic decision, because so much is happening simultaneously at every stage.

Or the VFX dept are asked to do miracles rather then reshoot.

E.g my wife worked on shot (true story). The actors were running through some woods. The creatives decided they wanted to change the woods to a different location.

So rather then reshooting.

The whole sequence had to be hand roto'ed to cut the actors out of the back drop, the branches in the foreground needed to be painted out.  One of the actors was waving a sword about - it had too much motion blur to be roto'ed so it had to be replaced by CGI.

The shot was originally well shot by the by the DOP,  but their was no intention to change the background or a green screen would have been used on set. The VFX guys did a great job, but the resulting shot didn't look brilliant because its impossible to really nail. It was an expensive dumb editorial idea to try and repurpose the footage rather then reshooting.

The post house spend months on it, and in the end the editor trimmed it from the 297 frames that were painted and roto'ed to 23 in the final movie. (not that the post house complain since they can bill more hours)

All sorts of mad decisions are imposed on the movies and thats why they now cost $200mill +. I won't name the film or post house, but a lot of people here will have seen it. 

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Thanks for the replies - Interesting to hear this input.

Nothing's perfect - No one's perfect - but that scenario, Phil, is totally crazy. I would expect with higher budgets and so many members involved, that the "more pre-thought and efficient workflows" would be a must and very common, but that's obviously not always the case.

Curious if any other folks working on this level can answer any of my above questions.

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1 hour ago, Joseph Tese said:

Thanks for the replies - Interesting to hear this input.

Nothing's perfect - No one's perfect - but that scenario, Phil, is totally crazy. I would expect with higher budgets and so many members involved, that the "more pre-thought and efficient workflows" would be a must and very common, but that's obviously not always the case.

Curious if any other folks working on this level can answer any of my above questions.

I think they do what they can to plan - but when you have these giant movies with 1000's of VFX shots that have to be delivered on a date - it can become a case of throwing people at the task and its often not that efficient. 

The release date is often decided before principle photography starts.

On big budgets when you using an A+ VFX house that can probably fix anything, there might be tendency to get sloppy on set.

But in some case's its cheaper to fix in post then push an expensive crew into expensive overtime (swings and rounder bouts)

 

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