Trick Work

“What a vista opens before us at the very mention of trick-work! There is hardly a single fantastic idea which cannot be given existence upon the screen. The masterpieces of the magicians and wizards form the simplest problems for the cameraman. Trickery in one form or another is possibly the greatest single factor in the success of the modern film.”

You would be excused for thinking this was written in response to this years amazing visual effects bake-offs hosted by the Academy in which the 10 selected films wowed the audience with the most spectacular effects exhibited to date–all of which demonstrated near technical perfection. Rather, this quote is from The Handbook of Motion Picture Photography by Herbert C. McKay A.R.P.S.,published in 1927. Continue reading

Ask who

Working at large companies requires involvement with lots of people, across separate departments, divisions and business units. A lot of the time, blame gets assigned to a “group”, rather than a person. A while ago, I learned from one of my favorite producers to always ask, “Who?”. Departments are rarely the problem and a department can never fix your problem — a person has a chance. An example:
“My shot can’t final because the effects department hasn’t given me all my elements.”
Completely reasonable statement, but also not that helpful. Without identifying who, we can’t even start to fix the issue at hand.
“My shot can’t final because Rob hasn’t given me all my effects elements.”
Now we can get somewhere. Does Rob have too many shots on his plate? Has he been out sick? Is he simply incompetent? How can Rob’s priorities be adjusted to get this shot done? Next time someone complains about a group, try asking “Who?” Force them to think about who actually needs to do something different to address the issue, and then work on fixing the problem.