How does the near-ceaseless evolution of VFX technology continue to shape the future of the film and television industry?
A panel of Toronto Film School faculty, students and alumni recently engaged in an insightful online discussion exploring just that topic.
Hosted by veteran VFX artist and TFSO instructor Jaime Torres, the hourlong webinar kicked off with a showcase of recent student work, before launching into a discussion featuring commentary from current Visual Effects for Film & TV student Rachael McMunn, as well as Film Production alumnus/current faculty member Tony Del Rio, and Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre graduate Natalie Brdar.
With more than 25 years in the field, Torres said much has changed in the industry since he first launched Ghost FX – an award-winning, Toronto-based animation/visual fx house that has produced more than 500 projects that have been broadcast in 129 countries on television, web, theatres, stadiums and award shows with 120,000 live viewers – in 1995.
“In the 80s and 90s, visual effects were sort of an afterthought – they would shoot a movie and put all the money into the production, and then they would do post-production with whatever money they had left. They would have someone wear a rubber costume, and, you know, just silly stuff,” Torres said, noting that all that changed after the release of Jurassic Park in 1993.
“That movie changed people’s opinion of CGI, and from that, it grew vastly. Nowadays, if you look at the industry and movies, in general, you have about 80 per cent green screen…That means that there’s a lot of people out there excited to play around with the technology to tell stories – and it’s pretty much opened up a whole world of better-told stories.”
As one of those artists looking to break into VFX, Rachael McMunn took the leap from her traditional visual and studio art background to enroll in Toronto Film School’s Online Visual Effects for Film & TV program back in January.
Despite being intimidated by the prospect of tackling digital technology she’d never touched before, McMunn said she and her fellow classmates have settled very quickly into their studies.
“It’s such a huge learning curve and not a learning curve, all at the same time,” said McMunn, whose previous experience didn’t extend much beyond printmaking, painting and drawing.
“It happens fast. But it’s manageable, even for someone like me who comes from a background of literally almost no digital technology at all. And that’s exciting. There’s a lot of things you can do with the technology.”