The networks among Pixomondo Beijing

The networks among Pixomondo Beijing

I have been working on the analysis of the interview with Pixomondo Beijing and trying to illustrate the connections among Pixomondo Beijing and other factors visually.

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Word cloud based on the transcript of the interview with the head of the production of Pixomondo Beijing

Word clouds based on the transcript of the interview with the head of the production on Pixomondo Beijing

I have been analysing the interview I did with the head of the production in Pixomondo Beijing. The interview is structured along themes relating digital compositing, for example the communication between post-production companies and production companies before and during the making of Hugo (2011, Martin Scorsese); the frequency and topics of communication between visual effects producers in Beijing with compositors and visual effects supervisors before and during the post-production period; the cooperation between different post-production companies on the film; the influence of the location of the companies on its operation; the experience of the organization of the multi-production network; identification of the influence of post-production companies on the aesthetics of film.

Special thanks to Pixomondo Beijing for your contribution to this research project.

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: 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.

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: Korea.net. 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?

Reading: ‘Hugo and the joy of filmmaking’

Reading: ‘Hugo and the joy of filmmaking’

I read an useful article published on Creative Cow Magazine, which is based on the interview with Legato who is the Visual Effects Supervisor and Second Unit director of Hugo (Scorsese: 2011). This article provides a brief introduction about the making process of this film. The article is available online at: http://library.creativecow.net/legato_rob/magazine_30_HUGO/1

I think the following points of this article are helpful. Firstly, Legato provides a short comment on the performance of different visual effects companies for this film, as he says: “For the movie’s digital shots, Pixomondo did the heavy lifting, using all of their facilities around the world.” According to him, Pixomondo is one of the major visual effects companies for this film and the international teams of this company are involved in the project. It is interesting to investigate further about the form of cooperation among the international teams of Pixomondo with the example of Hugo.

Furthermore, he mentioned the contributions of other companies: “ Matte World did five or six matte painting shots and artistic supervision. Lola VFX did thirty-five or forty shots focused on de-aging, and did a beautiful job. Uncharted Territory created about twenty or so exterior Paris environments. And ILM did the opening shot where it looks like streak photography, and another scene where Hugo points out that the world is a machine.” Although the comments he gives are short, it provides information about what different companies have done for this film. I think this information is useful for preparing an interview.

In addition, Legato also highlights the difficulty of managing numbers of visual effects companies, as he says: “Generally speaking, though, I’m loath to farm a film’s visual effects out to too many different companies. At that point, it becomes something for a Producer to manage, rather than an artistic solution for a Visual Effects Supervisor to manage.” It would be useful to find out more specifically about what the difficulties are for managing many different companies and what factors need to be considered. Moreover, this raises the question of whether the Producer has fulfilled the job and has the artistic ability.

He also commends on the process of making visual effects in this film. He says this film follows a “very free-flowing organic process”. He also describes this process in the following way: “To begin, we didn’t generally storyboard sequences. I did previs to see how we would shoot them, and then used it as a temp while we edited. It was at best a loose concept and a placeholder for a better idea.” He also compared the process with the normal VFX model, which is “turning in sequences by certain hard dates and not changing those dates without a traditional change order”. He believes the more flexible way of working with visual effects companies offers more creative space and helps reduce the cost. What he says here reveals a connection among the cooperation model with visual effects companies, the process of filmmaking and costs. In another word, when and how artists such as Directors and Visual Effects Supervisors know what exactly the CGI scene look like? And does it influence by how visual effects companies plan their work?