"The visual effects industry prides and promotes itself as a 'cutting edge' endeavour, where last year's breakthrough innovation quickly becomes the new minimum standard. With such a technology/innovation arms race in operation, any book on the field faces the risk of being out of date at press time.... Yet....
The interviews in Art of Visual Effects are a regular strategy utilised in craft based film writing. It promotes an anecdotal style that facilitates the communication of oten technically obtuse material. By allowing the interview subject to explain their work on a particular shot or sequence through a narrative of arising problems and the subsequent solution. As the interview progresses through the career of the professional, these anecdotes also reveal the technological advances and progressions that have occurred in the field, thus reinforcing Visual Effects as "state of the art". What emerges is a depiction of the effects professional as a humble approachable individual whose rationality, ingenuity and technical prowess are responsible for these words of "magic".
The work of a visual effects superavisor is presented as the resolution of a logistical problem resolved...
The sole goal that is referenced in these discussions is that of reality or the 'invisibe' effect. This refers to the desire that the completed imagery gives no clue as to the means of manufacture.
Occasionally, in Art of Visual Effects material discussing artistic decisions seeps through. An example is Rob Legato's description of the need to push the technological envelope of Titanic's effects in order to match the pride in technology that actual Titanic represented, hence the vertiginous, innovative bow to stern camera move at the beginning of the voyage. Such a statement indicates that these professionals do understand how a visual effect shot can complement or subert a film narratively, can act as a further channel of meaning.
The lack of concern with capital "A" art in this type of writing and Rogers book in particular can be seen as a godsend. Abstract and theoretical discussion is replaced with the practical and achievable. The humble unassuming descriptions of process employed, choices made and solutions obtained, is refreshing when contrasted with the sometimes incontestable abstractions of film theory. This type of writing does provide valuable insights into the practical and logistical reasons for the choices made by visual effects artists.
review by Michael Powell (latrobe.edu.au Screening the Past)