Courtney (VEMG/DFV Dept Coordinator over @ the Art Institute) & I were recently talking about reviving the old “VFX Team” class at Ai. Strange name, but the focus of the class is on-set VFX supervision. I’m excited about it – definitely would be a boost to get everyone shooting more and solving problems with brainpower & careful planning on the front end, and less muscling things out on the back end. Probably goes without saying, but if you don’t nail down the shoot you’re going to have a long, messy ride the rest of the way. This type of production exposure would be valuable in this brief window where, as a student, one might have a little control over one’s own post-production destiny.
A well designed shot can make the rest of the process a breeze. Or at least… breezier.
I should probably tag this with the disclaimer that I’m still a “Padawan” when it comes to supervising vfx for a shoot. I was lucky to get an early taste back in my commercial NYC days (this is 10 some odd years ago now), but not so much since taking positions at larger studios – even ones that had production work happening alongside VFX. Oh ya know, the occasional element shoot or student project comes along and those are good chances to buy a new toy or 2, shake off the rust, test theories, and keep skills sharp. But I still have lots to learn and feel like I have plenty of “book smarts” that need converted to “street smarts.” All along the way I’ve been been hitting up the more senior on-set folks who were around and nice enough to share wisdom, and constantly building my kit. I think this class would be a nice excuse to bust things out and fully explore the fundamental concepts. Now that we’re talking about it, I’m starting to get the itch!
All the years spent slugging it out in the trenches has proven valuable; for better or worse, it’s given me a dose of… well, to put it nicely – production “challenges.” Challenges which, as any Compositor worth a salt does, gives me a chance to reverse engineer the fix and see how the bullets could’ve been dodged in the first place… along the way keeping a mental file cabinet of all this shrapnel to avoid.
The on-set skills will definitely expand your mind and get you thinking critically. Dissecting. And once you graduate, I think you’ll find that although you might not be able to apply a lot of it instantly or directly, it’s just good to know the process, speak the language, and keep a catalogue in the back of your mind while you work the daily grind – to not only (for example) be able to pull a good key but take the time out to understand why a poorly shot key is blowing up on you, and what could have been done to avoid it. I’ve not thought much about it or put this to the test, but I have a hunch many of the best on-set supes out there are former Compositors, with scars to prove it. 🙂
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