As a visual effects designer and colourist for cinema, I work in a landscape that is dominated by large facilities with dozens, or even hundreds of employees with a high degree of specialism. You only need to look at the endcredits of a typical hollywood movie to get an impression. As a result, many of the images in todays visual effects blockbusters look remarkably (and depressingly) similar. Digital images for cinema have become a commodity and the people making them are as anonymous as the stone-cutters working on a medieval cathedral.
In contrast, in my own practice I am working relatively solitary, although filmmaking is always a collaborative exercise. On films like ‘Shock Head Soul’ and ‘Identicals’ which feature hundreds of visual effects shots ranging from small tweaks to complete digital environments I have done the bulk of the work myself, with additional work done by a freelancers that that follow my lead.
With these films I started work on these before there was a finished script, and was the last person to touch the images before they were projected. As a result, images carry in a way my signature, and I feel I hold a certain level of authorship over the images.
With each film that I work on becoming bigger in scale and budget I feel that I have pushed this way of working to its limits. On the next projects there will be more work, and there will be some pressure to do it at a higher pace.
So the question rises whether I can find a way to adapt my way of working to accomodate these bigger projects, while maintaining and further developing my signature or fingerprint.
There are a couple of considerations here.
A crucial one is that I really enjoy being hands-on with the images and don’t have any ambition to become a human resources manager. But I also know that there will be some level of hierarchy since a film director doesn’t want to have a conversation with ten individual crewmenbers. So I will need to explore collaboration methods that will allow me to be a solitary individual and at the same time be the conductor of the visual effects orchestra.
Another aspect to this is what is my ‘sigature’ as an image maker? I think my work differentiates itself by being less obsessed with photorealism and being more stylized and, if you will, painterly. So as part of my research I also want to explore the material qualities of digital image making.