FX is a very touchy subject for many genre fans. There are those that are diehard practical FX fans while others are embracing the use of CG for specific events that could otherwise not be accomplished. With Legion VFX, is there a sense of needing to honor past practical traditions while growing and embracing the future of CG?
James Hattin: Visual effects can be used for good or for evil. There will always be a place for practical FX on set. It helps the actors act, and the crew to film the right thing. The idea of a full CG creature in a horror movie isn’t impossible, but horror movies are generally done on the cheap, and that is what what usually causes the problems. We worked on Insidious 3, and the main character starts to lose limbs in the Further, clearly this could be done with some kind of make up effect, but it wouldn’t really sell the look. People would know it was fake. This is the real world problem… not enough money, or poorly spent money leaves creatures or VFX sorely lacking.
We worked on a short project for a friend, and he had a person in a rubber suit. It looked like a rubber suit. So, we augmented it by matching the rubber tentacles and adding a ‘sheen’ to it, so that it looked more wet, creepy and alive. This is the marriage that, I think, we are going to see going forward.
CG has clearly come a long way over the past couple of decades but there’s always room to grow. What are the ways in which audiences will see improvements to the medium in the coming years and how are those being accomplished?
JH: CG really has come a long way. From the perspective of movies in general, I think we will see a flawless human in the next decade. Right now, that ‘uncanny valley’ where things look ‘real’ but not quite, is the place we are sitting in. It’s really hard to take a fake character seriously. More and more the mix of practical and CG is going to be the way to go. To augment what can’t be easily shot in camera. pIf you think back to Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, there were a number of times they extended the jaws on the apes when they roared. This was a subtle effect, but one where we could still suspend disbelief and not be pulled out of the story. (not that I missed, it…. but I’m not an average consumer of feature films) If you look at the evolution of those movies, they’ve gone completely CG, and I don’t think it is any worse for it.