REVISED 2-25-2013

I originally wrote this post in advance of publication, on Feb. 12, one day before VFX house Rhythm & Hues filed Chapter 11, leaving a number of people I consider friends in the lurch. At the time of writing, I’d had no idea this was happening. To add to the sting, the film they’d been killing themselves on, Life of Pi, ultimately won a well-deserved Oscar for Visual Effects. But attempts to mention the VFX artists themselves were cut off or forgotten. Many of the artists have been posting green banners in solidarity. I don’t consider myself a VFX artist — I just like setting things on fire and filming it — but in appreciation of the many fine VFX artists I have worked with over the years, I have come back and changed the lettering in the relevant part of this post to Chroma Green.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with a great many talented people. In a number of cases, I was in a supervisory capacity. Director, producer, whatever. There’s two ways you can handle a job like that. One way is to have a firm vision, be extremely demanding, and nitpick and micromanage every last nuance of the work created by the artists working under you until you get exactly what you want. If it happens — and it usually does — that you don’t know exactly what you want, then in this first methodology the best way to disguise your own ineptitude is to sneer and belittle your underlings, demand endless changes, and force them to work lots of unpaid overtime until you either finally get something you feel is adequate or (more likely) you simply run out of time.

But that’s okay.  You can blame the artists for taking too long and costing too much.

The other way of working is to surround yourself with immensely talented people and encourage them to go absolutely nuts, reigning them in only when they start stampeding toward cliff edges. They will come up with some absolutely astounding stuff, the end result will probably be pretty damn good, and nobody had to suffer in the process. Personally, I prefer this second method.

When the time comes for a DVD commentary, mention these people, listing them by name if possible. I have done this, multiple times. Regrettably, I have also learned that the editors of the interview invariably end up cutting that part out. But to the many amazing artists and crew I worked with at places like Mainframe and Foundation Imaging: You were not forgotten then and you are still remembered even now. Damn, you made me look good.

All of this leading up to these current pages. According to my notes, what I wrote was:


Sound is muted, colors are monochrome, with trailing edges. Things look strange, surreal, supernatural.

And what ends up in the visuals are these fantastic views of people’s souls and auras.  God knows how Max took my lame, sketchy description and came up with this incredible imagery. But I’m really glad he did.

Makes me look brilliant.

— Bob out


PS: With the Oscars approaching this weekend, I am reminded that while I watched both Hugo and Inception, I, looking back on them now, cannot remember a damn thing about them. One of them involved running down a tunnel filled with pipes and steam, I think. Actually, that may have been both of them. But that’s all I got.

However, I remember all of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In great detail. Especially the scenes with the Baroness.  Mmmm. Baroness.

Admittedly, I might not be a scintillating specimen of aesthetic discernment. In fact, I know I’m not. I’m well aware of the critical reviews. But of the three films mentioned above, guess which one was actually purchased by me for my Amazon Streaming library? That’s right.

So as far as I’m concerned the Academy can circle-jerk itself into a self-congratulatory frenzy all it likes, but if it wants my popcorn money, I need fewer visionary masterpieces and more hot chicks with guns.

— B