The Production Designer and the Visual Effects Process

Looking at post-production and visual effects companies I can start to piece together some of the answers to questions about the production designers role in terms of  CGI, visual effects and what happens later on at post production. From reading a few articles and speaking with Framestore  it seems that visual effects are very much a part of the pre-production/production phase with plenty of collaboration between the VFX houses, director and production designer. But what does the production designer need to know in terms of the skills and knowledge of the VFX process?

This answer is more elusive. I discussed the possibility of the production designer gaining further skills for future film making in case study 1. Matthew Gant replied that he thought it to be unlikely that the production designer would train to have other skills as the job entailed so much already. There wouldn’t be time for the PD to sit all day at the computer doing the work of the VFX artist .

That said, does the production designer need to have knowledge or an overview of the process, even if they don’t know how to produce it themselves?

There are a handful of designers than I have come across  that have appeared to integrate with the  effects/CGI process.

Alex Mcdowell – Minority Report

Guy Hendrix Dyas – Inception

Both films were groundbreaking in different ways and these will feature as my next case study/studies

 

I will look at these designers and films in regards to the production designer/VFX/post production design process in particular what they needed to know about the VFX department when designing sets, whether there are limitations to consider? Also other aspects such as changes in the film-making process…

“From 1999-2001 he worked with Steven Spielberg to design and develop a world for the film Minority Report, prior to a completed script. The process that evolved changed the nature of his film design process from analogue to digital, and profoundly affected the nature of all digital production, pushing a radical shift towards a non-linear workflow. Since then his work has built on the dynamic relationship between creativity and emergent technologies.”  (http://www.xmedialab.com/mentor/alex-mcdowell)

 

I looked at Alex McDowell early on in my project and he is one of the designers that seems to be at the forefront of the non-linear way that film making is evolving.

I will also look at the company  5D Institute: The future of narrative media that Alex McDowell is a part of that thinks of story telling as a collaborative process with no boundaries.

Both Minority Report and Inception were considered groundbreaking in terms of the design processes, Minority Report for how it opened up the non-linear design approach and Inception because it was designed/produced completely in-house at Double Negative  and pushed the boundaries of photo-realistic daylight architecture.

“Aside from the development of the Limbo City shoreline procedural layout system, a key area of CG R&D was in lighting and rendering. But Inception required an even higher level of realism than Dneg has achieved with Gotham City or the magical worlds of Harry Potter. That’s because all the environments are seen in broad daylight. Lead by CG Supervisor Philippe Leprince, the Dneg team raised the bar for photorealistic architectural lighting, and recent advances in fluid dynamics and rigid body animation were brought together in the scenes of destruction and disintegrating reality.”  (DESOWITZ, B., 2010)

Inception also worked in a similar way to Minority Report as  a non-linear creative approach.

“There was no formal postvis period: instead postvis became a continual part of shot development, running pretty much all the way up to final delivery in May” (DESOWITZ, B., 2010)

So films such as Inception do seem to have the approach that was initiated by Minority Report. It works for the multi skill/lateral thinking collaboration between all design departments from pre-vis concept to post production VFX etc.

 

Alongside looking at these examples I will integrate the design process of my project as I need to know what has to be done in order to produce my sets and location alterations. World design is a term that is being used more and more as film making becomes more organic. It is a term that I came across initially through my love of gaming and creative writing. I will also look  at world building as an approach.

 

References:-

http://www.xmedialab.com/mentor/alex-mcdowell ONLINE [sourced on 6/6/14]

DESOWITZ, B., (2010) VFX from Inception. Available at: http://www.awn.com/vfxworld/vfx-inception ONLINE [sourced on 6/6/14]

 

Other sources of interest:-

http://5dinstitute.org/people/alex-mcdowell

Categories: Case Studies, MA project, Post Production, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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