Creative Skill Set: The Core Skills of VFX handbook

Creative Skill Set: The Core Skills of VFX handbook

Creative Skill Set, which is the licensed Sector Skills Council for entertainment media, fashion and textiles, publishing and advertising, marketing and communications in UK lists the following points for understanding career in visual effects industry:
1. VFX is a team sports
2. VFX needs both efficiency and creativity
3. VFX is not about single software solutions is about the pipeline
4. Deadlines are real deadlines
5. Somewhere, there is a client
You are working towards a clients satisfaction
6. Explaining yourself and communicating your ideas to the team are important
7. VFX is often about creating photoreal imagery, but only within the context of making the image believable and familiar within the world being portrayed.
8. Realising what works visually and how to mimic it are core skills across VFX.
9. Being able to dissect both shots and tasks into constituent steps or elements is a highly prized skill that needs to be worked on.
10. The best Visual Effects tool is paper
11. The visual effects Lexicon
(As with any discipline or sector, there is a shared language across VFX companies that enables clear communication of concepts and day to day processes.)
12. VFX is cinematography and maths-If you’re an artist don’t worry, this isn’t essential (just as life drawing isn’t for a programmer) but an appreciation of what each other needs to know will help you bridge the artist-techie gap. It’s really about thinking logically and mental arithmetic.
13. Computer literacy with UNIX/LINUX is essential in today’s VFX house
14. Optics: Understanding how the eye works, how it can be fooled and even directed to certain areas of the screen, is useful.
15. Film Theory : Film theory can be really useful if you can apply it
to practice.
16 VFX is not new. A sense of pre-CGI VFX history and context can help understand where we are now, culturally as well as technologically, and can open new insights into current practice.


HM treasury : Analysing responses to whether introduce new tax policy to support the development of UK Visual Effects Industry

HM treasury : Analysing responses to whether introduce new tax policy to support the development of UK Visual Effects Industry

Background: HM treasury ran a consultation between 21may to 2 July 2013 on options for providing further support to the visual effects industry through tax system. This consultation is responding to part of the announcement of the UK chancellor at Budget 2013. Now HM treasury are analysing the feedback and will publish the result soon.

Policy context:

According to the policy context of this consultation document of HM treasury, the Government is committed to supporting the creative industries, which were identified in the Plan for Growth as having the potential to drive significant growth in the UK. This includes providing targeted support for the creative industries through specific spending and tax measures.As part of its wider ambition to support technological innovation and to help the digital, creative and other high technology industries grow, the Government is now looking to explore options to further support the visual effects industry through the tax system.

Key points for this consultation:
The Government are responses from external stakeholders in the following key points:
• the current size and composition of the UK visual effects industry;
• details of the economic and cultural contributions of the industry;
• any recent trends within the industry; and
• the factors driving any change within the industry and their likely longer term impacts.
They are seeking responses from external stakeholders
The responses will inform its decision on providing further support for the visual effects industry through the tax system.

This consultation and related document provides useful context for understanding visual effects industry in UK. It informs me to look further about the influences of government policy as well as tax system on the development of visual effects industry. And also its impacts on Spec its the global visual effects market as well as the position of UK in it. For example, the costs of doing visual effects in UK, the number of visual effects companies in UK, practitioners and their skills.

Moreover this consultation document states that their decision will be made on if visual effects industry has cultural benefits to UK. After reading this, I am if it is possible or in which way visual effects can embody certain culture? Moreover according to the report on screen digest,  South Korean and Chinese government seeking cooperation to support the visual effects industry in this two. How about other countries such as US, Australia and Canada? If their governments are providing support for their visual effects industry? And what are the consequences of these government involvement in this field?  Are they leading to the visible of their culture in the visual effects films?  I will do more reading about this point.

Reading: The language of New media

The Language of new media is another foundamental writing about digital media. While the authors of remediation trying to identify the connections between digital media and previous media forms, this book focus more on what makes digital media different. Moreover, this book also indicates that computer technology as well as the specific knowledge of this technology is essential for the content making of digital media.

This book theoretically illustrates the defining characters of digital media, which are numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability and transcoding. This research is significant for digital media study because the five characters it identified show the new materiality, structure and mechanics of digital media. And more importantly it identifies the fact that the new computational nature of the media influences on both itself and its content. Manovich argues that the media has both “culture layer”(46) which refers to media content and “computer layer” (46) which means the ontology of computer. He further suggests that these two layers influences each other, which result in a new computer culture. Although this book did now show enough evident for the new computer culture, it provides an important perspective for studying digital media, which is from the “computer layer” and how it interacts with the “culture layer”.

In relating to my research, the study of global digital compositing companies in film industry might further explore the economical meaning of the “computer layer” and also the interaction and dynamic of the two layers in context. Further more this book is relevant to my research because it redefines digital cinema as well as points out the aesthetical space of digital compositing. Manovich advocates that digital cinema is a combination of live action material, painting, image processing, compositing, 2D compute animation and 3D computer animation. Therefor he claims that digital film becomes a special animation. This argument illustrates that filmmaking is becoming an increasingly complicated process (like animation), which demands time and labor. So that team work as well as the efficiency of the pipeline is important for the digital post-prodution industry. Further research into these two area mentioned above need to be done.

Further more the author points out that digital compositing creates four new spaces for moving image, which are “Spatial order of layers in a composite”; “virtue space constructed through compositing”; “2D movement of layers in relation to the image frame”; and “the relationship between moving image and the linked information in the adjusted window”(147). Therefore, he further suggests that digital moving image belongs to an “audio-visual-spatial culture”(147). From this point of view, space is one of the essential elements for understanding digital compositing. More over it is important that not only looks at the final scene constructed through compositing, but also different spatial dimensions that the process of digital compositing deal with. Especially, in which countries and places these different dimensions and elements are composited.

In addition, in this book Manovich discusses his idea of software studies for the first time. He suggests that in order to truly understand digital media we need to move from media studies to software studies.  His argument overstated the power of software as software is a tool and the contribution and efforts of digital artist could not be ignored.  However the capability and functions of software might be one of the factors influence on the techniques and efficiency of film post-production industry. Finally, co-operational relationship has been built between software companies and post-production studios, which allows them to work closely with each other.

Reading: Remediation

Reading Remediation

Remediation is one of the fundamental readings for understanding digital media.It is the first few books that I have been reading since I started doing my research. I think it is valuable because it did not isolated new media from previous media forms but look at it from the perspective of  art history. More importantly, from the authors point of view, what could benefit the development of digital media is not only computers but also other previous art forms. The techniques as well as creative ideas, which has been developed over time in art history by human could be a useful source of the development of new media.

In this book, the authors who are Bolter and Grusin explore the influences of technological development on the aesthetics of visual media. It focuses on the studying of aesthetical character of representational media facilitated by digital technology. They analyze various digital media forms such as computer games, the World Wide Web and cinema with computer graphics and identify their relationship with previous media such as painting, photography and film. The authors argue that digital media borrow and mix techniques from previous media as well as repurposing and refashioning them to achieve their aesthetical or cultural values. They defined this dialogical relationship between digital media and earlier media forms as remediation.

The authors further suggest that historically remediation also happened during the development of other visual media as photography remediates perspective painting and film remediates photography and drama. Another key finding of the study is the two strategies that digital media implement to remediate other media. One of the strategies is transparent immediacy, which means that media try to erase themselves from the audience and the space it represented. In another word it describes the moment that audience highly engaged with the media content and feels like directly look at certain reality without medium. The other strategy is hypermediacy, which refers to the feeling that audience is aware of the existence of media.

This book is useful for my research because the concept of remediation and its two strategies help understand the aesthetics of digital compositing in contemporary mainstream cinema. From this point of view, on one hand digital compositing could be understood as a process that remediates many different film techniques such as cinematography, mise-en-scene and editing. So that for certain extant, the existing aesthetical theory of these film forms might still meaningful for digital compositing. But it is important to notice here that digital compositing might borrow from these film techniques but does not simply equal with any one of them. On the other hand, it allows different media such as painting, film and computer graphic to have a dialogue with each other. It might be worth to look at that what aesthetical value has been created through the dialogue.

Further more, the two strategies of remediation could be considered as a theoretical framework to critic digital compositing and visual effect. One of the purposes of photorealism digital visual effect might be achieving transparent immediacy, which persuades the audiences think they look at something real. Moreover it generates visual pleasure by letting the audience experience hypermediacy at the same time. It creates a feeling that watching something very much unlikely real but looks real.

However this research have the following limitations. First of all it denies digital media have any authentic aesthetics. The nature of the subject of this study is ever changing with the rapid development of digital technology so that it might be too earlier for the writers to draw this conclusion. The history of cinema suggests that it might borrow from painting or drama but it still forming its own aesthetical language over time. So do television and other media. So it is hard to say digital media could not have any unique aesthetics. Further more this book did not provide a clear explanation for the reason why remediation happens. It indicates technological, social and economical facts all contribute to the remediation of previous media in new media. But the authors did not illustrate any of these points clearly and specifically.

Support for the visual effects industry: consultation launched

Support for the visual effects industry: consultation launched

I found an useful document on UK Government Website: GOV. UK. This article is about the government is seeking to find out how it can further support the visual effects industry in the UK through the tax system. It is an interesting document to read for my study. I will read and think about it further tomorrow.

Here are some more relevant article which are about the situation of visual effects industry in UK

1. BBC News: Keep Uk’s special effects dream live

2. Gardians Graduates: VFX Career Do you have the skill the film industry is crying out for?

3. BBC NEWSBEAT: Visual effects workers in film industry ‘overworked’

China and South Korea Co-production Visual Effects Film: Mr. Go (2013)

China and South korean co-production film: Mr. Go (2013)

The image above is the poster of  the Korea-China joint-production film Mr. Go which will be released in July this year. The gorilla in this image is a CG character in this film which is produced by  visual effects companies in Paju, Korea named Dexter Digital. This studio is  founded by film director Tim, which is responsible for all the 3D imaging and visual effects of the film.

After I read the report about the co-production agreement between China and Korea, I Checked the English Website of South Korean government called: And found some useful information about the co-prodction visual effects film. I plan to do more research into Dexter Digital and also other south korean visual effects studios and also contact one of the producer of Dexter Digital, who is in China.

The report of the also provides background information about Dexter Digital and the film. The founder of this studio who is a Korean Director Kim has tried to corporate with Industrial Light and Magic  four years ago. He realized that it would cost almost KRW 80 billion to do special effects for the film in Hollywood, and he only had a budget of KRW 22.5 billion. He decided to do it on his own in Korea, spending KRW 3 billion from his pocket and founding Dexter Digital. One of reason why the cost reduced is because the studio hire less people. As Kim said,  “In the end, 180 artists made something from scratch with crazy passion.”

The part of the report about the film reveal the fact budget is one of the crucial problem that visual effects industry in Korea or other asia countries faced. As when I was interview the project manager in Crystal CG, which is a visual effects companies in Beijing, he also mentioned that they only got a little time and limited budget to finished the tasks for the domestic market. How dose  it influences on the work they done?  How does the 180 artists in the studio manage to fulfil the task?

As a report about Crystal CG in one of the major Chines online news platform named Sina says artists in Crystal CG was almost ill when were fulfilling their tasks for the film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale. If the time and budget for visual effects project could be increase, does it mean the artist may have a chance to do a even better job? What factors the influence the budget that is available for visual effects?

China and South Korea have signed a tentative film co-production agreement

China and South Korea have signed a tentative film co-production agreement

Screen Digest reports that China and South Korea have signed a tentative film co-production agreement. Both of the two countries expects to sign a formal co-production treaty during 2013. If the treaty was successfully be signed, it will benefit the co-production projects in the following ways:

1.Co-production projects will enjoy free market access regardless of the Chinese foreign film quota.

2.Co-production projects will also enjoy tax benefits from both countries.

The article especially mentioned that South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) expects the co-production treaty to create growth in film VFX and employment of film crews.

Moreover the Korean Film Council opened a ‘Korean Film Business Centre’ in Beijing in 2012 to support co-production and backed other collaboration with the Chinese film industry.

In addition it also contains the useful information : To date, China has signed co-production treaties with Canada, Italy, Australia, France, New Zealand, Belgium and Singapore and is also in talks with Spain and Brazil.

This article provides a part of context for my study.

Firstly, it informs me to look further about the influence of government policy on the development of visual effects industries in certain nations such as China New zealand and UK. Especially from the perspective of economy, tax and employment policy.

Secondly, I need to look at more about if there is any more co-production agreement or related trade agreement between countries, which might influences the cooperation among countries for visual effects in films.

Thirdly, I will further look at the cooperation between China and South Korea for film visual effects. I will contact the Korean Film Business Centre in Beijing and find out if I can interview the when I am traveling to China this Summer.

In the end, I will also think why the governments of the two countries are seeking cooperation in the field of film making. And also if government  makes effects  in the field, is the result of  this collaboration will be the mix of Chinese and south Korean Culture?