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VFX Artists Are Often Left Out to Preserve Illusion of Realism in Movies

Several artists reveal the secrets of working on popular films and how erasure might affect the industry.

Image credit: Universal Pictures

In the age of advanced special effects and huge explosions in nearly every movie, shooting a film without VFX sounds impossible, and when we see a cool realistic scene, we are often more impressed by the fact it was done "naturally". But is it really the case? And is it good that media has become so close to life that the audience might not even think about the artists involved in its creation?

Apparently, some filmmakers and marketing teams try to conceal the fact VFX was used in the project so much that they don't credit artists' work and even prohibit them from talking about their role in it. 

“When you have a huge movie, you can kind of tell any story about the technology. [Publicity] doesn’t always want that to become part of the story,” a veteran member of the Academy’s VFX branch told The Hollywood Reporter.

Image credit: Universal Pictures

Another source added that there are sometimes specific orders that “there will be no discussion of VFX. … We don’t want to overshadow the actors [or] we don’t want to break the mythology that somebody did all of these stunts.”

If you think about directors who try to shoot everything "for real", Christopher Nolan might come to your mind. And while it's true that his movies have a lot of practical effects, he, in his words, is "as dependent on visual effects – probably more so – than any other filmmaker out there."

When he said there was no CGI in Oppenheimer, many were shocked, and this kind of overshadowed the fact that there are still visual effects in the picture – about 200 VFX shots.

Yes, it may be logical to keep the loud "no effects" headline from a marketing standpoint, but this actually takes away from the industry specialists, many of whom are not even acknowledged in the credits of various projects. In that same Oppenheimer, 80% of the FX crew were left uncredited, according to Cartoon Brew.

Image credit: Universal Pictures

What's more, the increasing quality of VFX makes it harder to see effects from what they are. “The better we are, the worse it is for our profession,” confessed one source to THR.

To spend months or even years working on a film that you can't tell your friends or potential employers about is truly tragic, and, as THR points out, it might prevent VFX companies from recruiting top talent.

The VFX community is already in jeopardy without a union to represent it, so hopefully this practice will be changed soon with more exposure.

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