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The VFX Factor: Why the Effect Should 'Live' in the Frame with Finalbyte



Finalbyte on the constant competition between desire and possibilities and why VFX is a fusion

The VFX Factor: Why the Effect Should 'Live' in the Frame with Finalbyte

Finalbyte are a post-production house focusing on colour grading and visual effects. We have the pleasure of collaborating with iconic brands, top directors and independent storytellers. Our passion is to create a finished product that represents each story in its own specific and unique way.

LBB> What’s the biggest misconception people have about VFX?

Finalbyte> Sometimes you can see the surprise that people have (who are not familiar with VFX) when a simple task in their opinion is quite difficult to perform. And the effect that lasts on screen for one-two seconds requires a great deal of work and usually with several artists. Some people believe that if you have a strong computer and the necessary software then any complex shot is easily achieved. You just must turn on the program and press ‘a few special buttons’. People believe the VFX guys know these buttons, but they don't tell anyone. This is very far from the truth. The program and the computer are just tools. They allow an artist to perform many tasks, but the program itself cannot and does not know how to decide for you exactly how to solve creative problems. Behind any perfect program there is an artist with skill and experience.

LBB> There are two ends to the VFX spectrum - the invisible post and the big, glossy 'VFX heavy' shots. What are the challenges that come with each of those? 

Finalbyte> The visual goal of any effect is to be an integral, organic part of the image. The effect should ‘live’ in the frame. Most effects are not visible to the viewer. You can watch a movie or commercial where there are no flashy VFX. But almost every video was worked on by VFX artists. If the viewer did not notice anything, then they did a good job. This is not an easy task. Creating ‘heavy’ effects of course requires a lot of time and effort of many people. But the main goal remains the same. No matter how mind-blowing the effect is, the viewer must believe in the reality of what they see. Of course, we all understand what is happening on the screen is not real but it's beautiful. And if they want to look at it again, then the work of the VFX is done well.

LBB> As a VFX person, what should directors be aware of to make sure you do the best possible job for them?

Finabyte> Creating VFX is a complex process that begins long before filming starts.

We have a difficult task ahead of us. We must create on the screen what has never been, what no one has ever seen. Long before filming begins VFX starts in the pre-production process. This is the most crucial moment in creation. It all starts by discussing the idea of ​​the effect. The director explains his idea, and our task is to materialise it on the screen. The work starts from artists' sketches and then to simplified animated models (previsualisation). Previsualisation is often done very close to the final version. We need to ensure that the previsualisation matches the director's idea. Then we know what needs to be done on the set to properly shoot this shot. The discussion process in pre-production helps us formalise a ‘Blueprint’ of what needs to be done on set to film the idea properly. Without this discussion before shooting, we end up fixing a lot of mistakes and prolonging the post production process. 

LBB> VFX is a true craft in the classic sense of the word. Where did you learn your craft?

Finalbyte> VFX work is both art and craft at the same time. Everything depends on the task. Sometimes there are so-called ‘technical’ tasks. Where everything is simple and clear, and no artistic skills are required. But sometimes you must solve very complex artistic and, as a result, technical work. After all, we are not only faced with the task of inventing a ‘beautiful’ effect, but we need to make it the way it was intended.

VFX work is a fusion of art and technology. People working in this profession usually have either an artistic or technical education. There are schools and colleges that train VFX specialists, but many come to this profession from other technical fields but related to computers.

LBB> Think about the very, very start of a project. What is your process for that? Do you have a similar starting point for all projects?

Finalbyte> Of course, in our work there are no two identical tasks. Every time we face new conditions and look for their solutions. For best results we need to be included in the pre-production discussions related to VFX shots. This allows us to avoid mistakes while filming and makes our work easier. But often we are faced with work when the material has already been filmed without our participation and we need to prepare the shot properly before finalising the effect. This can become very complex and creates great difficulties in the work, especially in a short amount time.

LBB> We imagine that one of the trickiest things with VFX is, time issues aside, deciding when a project is finished! How do you navigate that?

Finalbyte> We do a lot of natural VFX. I call it that because our work is naturally organic in the shot. We are taking complications in the shot and fixing them to the desired amount of what the client wants. Our work is never noticed within the shot. Sometimes we are asked to create a planet in the distance or add something to a shot to create a certain mood, but it is rarely recognisable as obvious VFX. So, with our current work we usually decide to finish the job when it is natural in the scene, unrecognisable by the viewer. We create the desired effect and mould it into the scene. For us an effect is finished when it does what the client is wanting and is unrecognisable by the viewer. Usually, adjustments are wanted and at this point time restricts what we can change from the original request. The previsualisation in pre-production and judging how many artists are needed for a project is extremely important to finish on time with a final product we are all happy with. 

LBB> And as real time tech and games engines become ever faster and more sophisticated, how do you see that shaping or changing the role of VFX and its place in the production pipeline (e.g. thinking about things like virtual production)?

Finalbyte> Today, artificial intelligence technology is more and more penetrating into the production of visual effects. This opens new possibilities and significantly speeds up the work. Many stages of production require manual work and take a lot of time. In new versions of programs, tools appear that save us from routine work.

The power of computers is constantly growing, which also opens new opportunities for us. At the same time, the requirements of our customers are constantly growing and becoming more and more complex. Constant competition between desire and possibilities.

LBB> VFX is a craft that relies on you really looking at nature - how light works, how gravity works, the mannerisms of a kind of creature, how crowds work, skeletons, explosions… whether its animation or compositing or anything else… So how do you like to approach the research side of your job? What’s the most random or intriguing thing you’ve learned from working on a project?

Finalbyte> Without a doubt, we are always looking for clues in our world around us. The modern viewer is very tempted by the visual effects on the screen and immediately sees a poorly done job. We must carefully study and carefully analyse how the simplest things that are around us look and behave in order to repeat them on the screen. To do this, we study a large number of reference materials on a given topic.

Sometimes the imagination of the filmmakers asks us to create things that cannot be found in our world. But even then, we solve it by mixing properties and appearances from things well known in our world. Just like an artist does by mixing paints in the right proportions.

LBB> When you’re watching a VFX-heavy ad or movie, what are the tells that you look for to figure out how well crafted it is?  

Finalbyte> Of course, VFX specialists see films with different eyes than ordinary viewers. We evaluate how much our colleagues from other studios managed to implement the idea technically. How interesting, original was the idea itself and how it was possible to implement it. Any unusual idea from the filmmakers that is a challenge for us. There are many ‘markers’ by which we evaluate the technical performance of this effect. For example. We look at how much the integrated image matches in colour, lighting with the original part of the image. Whether it was possible to ‘blend’ the computer part of the image with the natural one. We usually look at those parts of the image on the screen that the average viewer does not pay attention or notice. It's a professional habit.

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Forager, Thu, 19 Jan 2023 11:48:11 GMT