Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bold Prediction for the Future of FX

I came across an article today about the new Wacom Intous5 tablets. Now if you're just a hardcore horror buff and you don't know what I'm talking about, Wacom produces tablets used mainly be designers, artists, etc., but trust me once you get the hang of them you won't go back to using a mouse. Basically this tablet is a flat mouse pad that you use a stylus to draw or move the cursor with on your computer. Very handy if you're doing art or design work where you need superb control. By now you're thinking, who gives a shit, tell me more about horror crap. Okay, we'll get to that. Recently Wacom introduced their new series of tablets which offer up a lot of multi-finger control. Ooooo, "multi-finger control" perked you up, did it? It's not what you think. Basically you use your finger or fingers to do multiple functions. Think of the new personal tablets or smart phones that allow you to expand / reduce frames, click on items, etc. but with many more options. Like Minority Report but much cooler.

Okay, let me digress so we can tie this all together. Back when I was in college studying makeup FX for film / TV there were two camps, practical FX and computer FX. The two didn't like each other. Could be that way today but I see a lot more marrying of the two mediums than when I went to school. Back then the coolest stuff was creating your own lightsabers while we thought our shit didn't stink since the world was still primarily a practical FX one. Ah, but then the tide began to turn. Computerized visual FX have much greater range and can do things my practical colleagues could only dream of (I refer to my colleagues because I never was any good at practical FX). Take Rise of the Planet of the Apes for instance. In a practical world the FX would look not much better than they did when Tim Burton took a stab at his ill-fated remake back in 2001 (which he also combined computer FX to give his apes more range than their makeup would allow). Side note: excuse my overuse and probably misuse of parentheses (I like to use them if you hadn't noticed). Then you look at Rise and it's amazing what computers can do these days.

So back in the day, one camp was building FX with their hands and the other with computers. Now flash forward to the present. Wacom, and I'm sure there are other devices out there, are using the artist's hands to help create computer images. Flash forward another 5, 10, maybe 15 years from now, if you can, and visualize a world where the practical artist and the digital artist meet. Think of a device that would allow that artist to sculpt with their hands, adding details not with a mouse or stylus, but with their fingers and sponges like they still do on the practical side. No more dried, cracking hands covered in clay or casting agents (I used to hate that part) <-- There are those parentheses again!

As much as I was entrenched in the practical FX camp, I can see the future. Digital FX give filmmakers far greater range than practical FX, they are becoming cheaper and cheaper and nearly anyone with a computer can learn a great deal of them on their own, they allow the filmmaker to do thinks they only dream of whereas they once couldn't have afforded them, and if done right, the results are astounding.

In this bold new future, there will no longer be two camps, but one large conglomerate of artists. We will bring our hands, they will bring their computers, and in the end we'll all be happy... maybe.

1 comment:

  1. Having worked in both (CG much longer than makeup) I can say that from the CG side, everyone loves makeup FX. But from the makeup side, everyone still moans and whines about CG's overuse, which is often justified. But I have seen CG sculptors getting better each day. I still think horror looks best with makeup (ala THE THING John Carpenter)but, its getting there. BTW Wes Craven is going to be touring my office tomorrow!