(Focal Press, 416 pages, $39.95)
By Charles Finance and Susan Zwerman
No working director today today can afford to be ignorant in matters of visual effects. Sooner or later, whether you’re an action director like Michael Bay or an art-house staple like Atom Egoyan (whose film The Sweet Hereafter contained a CGI bus crash), the subject will arise and a lack of knowledge could hurt the production. A director who is not up to date might not know what questions to ask or even what possibilities exist. For filmmakers lacking the time or wherewithal to master the field, this compact and detailed tome offers the nuts and bolts from two professionals (Zwerman is a Guild member) with decades of experience in VFX.
Starting with a pre-history of classic effects, from blue-screen and stop-motion to matte painting, rear-screen projection and forced perspectives, the authors embark on a comprehensive survey of what’s available technically to enrich the palette and generally enhance your movie. The emphasis is on practical, real-world applications, with technical aspects presented in the context of budgeting, scheduling, and staffing. All information takes into account the relationship between what happens on set and what’s added in post.
The arrival of visual effects as a staple of filmmaking has not only added a new dimension to visual possibilities; it’s also changed the director’s central task of project management. Finance and Zwerman have assembled an essential guide for both tyros entering the industry from a literary or theatrical background, and established directors and their teams who want to feel more comfortable working in this brave new world.
Review written by John Patterson.