Episode 272 — VES Handbook Round Table

 

Episode 272 — VES Handbook Round Table

With wisdom from the best and the brightest in the industry, The VES Handbook is a visual effects bible that belongs on the shelf of anyone working — or aspiring to work — in VFX. The book covers techniques and solutions all VFX artists, producers, and supervisors need to know, from pre-production, to digital character creation and compositing of both live-action and CG elements. 

In-depth lessons on stereoscopic moviemaking, color management and digital intermediates are included, as well as chapters on interactive games and full animation authored by artists from EA and Dreamworks respectively. Written by 88 top leading visual effects practitioners and covering everything about visual effects from pre-production, production, and post-production, The VES Handbook is a must-have book for every VFX artist.

In this Podcast, Allan McKay interviews a panel of leading VFX Supervisors who have contributed their expertise to the 3rd Edition of The VES Handbook, along with the Co-Editor and the Chair of the VES Society Jeff Okun about the current and future state of the industry.

Allan McKay Interviews Jeff Okun: https://www.allanmckay.com/78/

The VES Handbook, 3rd Edition on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/VES-Handbook-Visual-Effects-Procedures/dp/0240812425

The VES Handbook on the Publisher’s Site:

https://www.routledge.com/The-VES-Handbook-of-Visual-Effects-Industry-Standard-VFX-Practices-and/VES-VES/p/book/9781138542204

VES Society Announces the 3rd Edition: https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/press-releases/visual-effects-society-announces-special-2020-honorees-2/

Jeffrey A. Okun’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0645799/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Dave Stump’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003432/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Demian Gordon’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0330136/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

David Tanaka’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2086413/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

[04:35] The VES Handbook Panelists Introduce Themselves

[06:35] The Panelists Discuss the Effects of COVID-19 on the VFX Industry

[21:55] Jeff Okun Shares the Origins of The VES Handbook and the Inspiration Behind It

[32:57] Jeff Talks About the Process of Compiling and Writing The Handbook

[37:56] The VES Handbook Contributors Discuss Their Contributions to the New Edition

[49:52] How the Process of Post-Production Has Changed

[58:21] Jeff Discusses His Process as the Editor of The VES Handbook

[1:04:04] Upcoming Technological Innovations and Their Impact on the Industry

 

EPISODE 272 — THE VES HANDBOOK ROUNDTABLE

Hello, everyone! This is Allan McKay. 

Welcome to Episode 272! I’m sitting down with a few contributors to the new VES Handbook, 3rd Edition. I think we have about 150 years of experience on this call. I’m really excited for this one. 

I had Jeff Okun on this Podcast a couple of years back (www.allanmckay.com/78). I wanted to bring him back to talk about the 3rd Edition of The VES Handbook. It is easily the most comprehensive book on visual effects. Jeff, as a Chair of the VES Society, was able to pull together some great contributors who are the best minds in the industry: Demian Gordon who works with motion capture and is at DreamWorks, David Tanaka who is an editor and has been with Pixar for forever, David Johnson who has his own company Undertone FX, David Stump who is a DP, as well as Jeff Okun.

We get into a lot of great topics and I cannot think of anyone more qualified to share the history and future of VFX. We are also dealing with COVID-19 right now so we’re all recording from home offices. So please focus on the value and not the trivial little dog barks in the background.

Let’s dive in!

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST: 

[1:17:35] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!

 

THE VES HANDBOOK ROUND TABLE

[04:35] Allan: Thanks again for taking the time to chat! Do you, guys, want to quickly introduce yourselves?

Jeff: Hi, I’m Jeff Okun. I’m the Editor — along with Susan Zwerman — of this fabulous but weighty tome: [The VES Handbook of Visual Effects]. I’m an ex-Chair of VES and a VFX supervisor.

DJ: I’m David Johnson even though everyone calls me DJ. I work in video games. I’m the CEO of Undertone FX. I’ve been in games for 20 some years. I wrote the Realtime chapter in the 3rd Edition of [The VES Handbook].

David: My name is David Tanaka. I’m part of the Board of Directors for the Visual Effects Society. My background is primarily in editorial and post-production. I was a VFX editor at ILM for roughly 15 years, then joined Pixar Animation as a staff editor. Now I do a lot of freelance editing directly with studios and marketing firms. 

Dave: I’m Dave Stump. I’m a working cinematographer and a VFX supervisor. I’m also the author of Digital Cinematography: Fundamentals, Tools, Techniques, and Workflows eBook available through Focal Press. And I’m one of the co-authors of The VES Handbook.

Demian: I’m Demian Gordon. I’m the President of the Motion Capture Society (I can’t decide if I’m Chairman of the Board or President.) I run several social media sites for motion capture. I’m also a motion capture supervisor in the film industry. I was a contributor to The VES Handbook.

[06:35] Allan: I figure we just all dive in. Afterall, it’s Friday! I figure we’ll start talking about the industry and the disruption COVID-19 has caused in production. As the saying goes, “The show must go on.” I’ve been impressed at how people were able to pivot and get back to work. What has your experience been like?

Jeff: The industry is shut down and they’re figuring out a way to cope. I’m in the ESC and they put together a sub-committee and there were 68 DP’s and 3 of them were working. And there were some nightmare stories. This is going to be a tough one to crack. One of the guys wanted to drink some water and they told him to get out of his gear, go outside, come back and go through the COVID station again. That’s 45 minutes of shooting time. [The industry] is slowly coming back. Once they have an effective vaccine, it’ll be wonderful. Until then — we’ll see!

[08:25] Allan: Makes you think that if you just put on some astronaut suits and have something inside to relieve yourself.

Jeff: Pre-production and post-production have been pretty unaffected. They can resume on Zoom. It’s just being there. And shooting, that’s been the problem.

David: Going back to the 3rd Edition of The VES Handbook, Jeff invited me to write a chapter on element pulls and asset data management because that’s kind of where post-production was heading. It was an interesting research prior to COVID-19 coming about. You wrote it for what it was worth. But since, you’ve seen the added benefits of what’s going on right now because of all that data management: The bandwidth expanded and having unlimited resources on a wireless basis ahead of time, all those things factored in for pre- and post-production. Those were some unexpected safeguards given the COVID-19 situation.

[09:46] Allan: What about everyone else? What have your experiences been? Have you seen any scenarios that have been working? 

Dave: I have to say that I’ve been working all summer from home. Mine is an odd case because I got a job directing a commercial and I’m directing it from Hollywood Hills while it’s shooting at a studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’m looking at 2 computers and 3 monitors. We have adapted the entire workflow for doing it remotely. There is a stage. We have 2 snowball cameras that I can pan and tilt just over IP, just to see what’s going on the stage. The DIT card is in South Carolina. It’s sending me a live feed from the camera, two feeds from the snowball cameras, all of the audio and additional audio channels to communicate with the agency folks and production people over Zoom. And we have all the participants from the production in Zoom. We have a stage crew who are working, following my instructions. It’s a slower way to work but it’s a way to get something done during the COVID pandemic. If I had to say I’ve learned one thing: This workflow makes us work serially, as opposed to parallel. As a cameraman and VFX supervisor, you’re used to sending 3 people out to do things at the same time, and everyone arrives back with their bit done. Because we have to socially distance and go through all these procedures, the workflow becomes serial.

[12:52] Allan: So ultimately, it’s workable but clunky.

Dave: Not as clunky as you’d think — and very workable! Sometimes, it’s frustrating. The only thing I have to say is that it adds expense to production. But if you absolutely have to get the production done, then you bite the bullet and pay the extra money. 

[13:25] Allan: Thank you for sharing that! What about the rest of you?

Demian: I work in a virtual production space. I’ve had no work interruption, luckily enough. We had the shutdown, people on my team grabbed machines and we all went home. We managed to get a VPM going and all of us could work exactly as if we were at the office. We were able to get remote motion capture going, so I could be in a seat here in my house doing performances while operating virtual cameras somewhere else, and someone else can be set dressing. We had people in different locations, and we’re all able to work (although my children and my wife wonder what I’m doing running around in this skin tight suit). It’s pretty cool how quickly we were able to adapt!

[14:31] Allan: I’m starting to get a picture of your house based on your mobile green screen. I definitely want to touch on virtual production later! I think it’s going to blow up shortly. For you, at home, are you doing more of a bootstrap set up or are you borrowing equipment you’d be using on a sound stage?

Demian: It’s all the same professional gear. There is a professional helmet cam, and I’ve got the body capture, there is this crazy machine. It’s not my gear. It’s the work hardware taken home. If we’re still able to talk as if you were in your cubicle, I don’t care where you are. I and my team are always chatting like that. The biggest thing is still the big mo cap shoots. And the worst part of it is all the calls to Spectrum to kick my internet by 2 KGB’s up. This virtual workflow is great but it’s really dependent on your network, your backbone. Are you somewhere that has fiber? But I’ve seen some tests where people are shooting in New Zealand, 90 seconds later the raw plates are in Georgia while someone in Los Angeles is directing that. You can stream directly to the cloud and to people’s Mac’s now. None of the editors that I know want to go back to work. Why would they? It’s as if they’re sitting on set, but from the comfort of their home.

David: In my neck of the woods, when it comes to freelance editing, the ideal situation for the client is that they want to be in the same room with you. You form a chemistry with them. For the past 6 years that I’ve been doing freelance, that falls by the wayside really quickly. It’s really more about the meet and greet. After a while, once they’re comfortable, they kind of want you to go away and do your thing. In a way, COVID-19 did away with that icebreaker. You can just attack the work quicker and forge the relationship quicker.

[18:01] Allan: DJ and Dave, do you want to add anything to this?

DJ: Yeah. The video games segment during COVID has been busier than ever. We’re turning down work right now. It hasn’t had much of an impact. Our studio is a small, remote location already. We had the guys take their gear home. Most companies I know did the transition over a weekend. I think there are a thousand video games companies in the country and every year, 5 or so go down. I’ve seen less layoffs this year. You ask about what things people are doing: One is telepresence. I have a tv above me and the other guys are on that screen, like The Brady Bunch. We simulate the office, we banter and ask questions. Our feedback and review process is over video. Every artist talks over whatever was on their screen. The next morning, I watch everything and make notes. We upload it all into Slack and the clients can see all these. It flows pretty well.

[20:09] Allan: That’s kind of like making rounds. I remember at Prologue, designers would have DropBox folders for reviews. 

Demian: It’s a little like having a DVR. In the old days, you had to schedule your day around the favorite program coming on. Now, I find there are these cloud services, and as artists are uploading their work to the cloud, you can comment in real time (or you can get to it when your kids are asleep). The group schedule is based on when you can get to it, as you can. You have the same workflow and people draw over the real time drawback. Or you can have the Zoom going simultaneously. It’s kind of cool: You can binge your reviews, like you binge your Netflix.  

DJ: I find it pretty cool to just be able to mute if I need to focus on something else. Which is hard to do when you’re standing around each other.

[21:55] Allan: That’s always been my secret. Instead of working late nights at a studio, I would go in at 5:00 a.m in the morning. It started when I worked on Superman in Sydney. I would be insync with everyone upnorth. But it also gave me a semblance of a normal life. Also, no one else would be at the office at that time. Just to pivot, I’d love to chat about The VES Handbook. Jeff, what was the origin of this book? And when did you get the idea?

Jeff: I came up before all this modern stuff. We used to look forward to the ESC Manual coming out, which was jam packed with useful knowledge. When the VES Society was born, it became a no brainer. You can do the same thing, but for VFX. And then it became about finding the talent. What they were able to contribute is not just the technique, but what it’s like to be on set and how to troubleshoot, and what your thought process [is]. It exceeded what I intended it to be. It won an award for technical manuals. It’s used as a textbook. I’m looking forward to the 4th Edition which will be an online, interactive edition.

Demian: You still have to print it though! There is something nice about having it on my shelf.

Jeff: I have to point out that our publisher went out on a limb and they made the hardcopy look nothing like our regular copy. This Edition has over 160 writers. It’s these people, on the call, and their expertise that makes the book sing. It fills in all those gaps. 

David: Jeff, correct me if I’m wrong but the first one came out in 2010. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. And the 2nd Edition was in 2014. I refer to years in movies. I mention this because what I appreciate about these Editions is that they don’t dump everything that’s been done before because it’s now different. Everything is different but the methodologies and perspectives are the same. What I appreciated is that Jeff had me update the VFX editorial pipeline chapter and then add a chapter on asset and management pools. And that to me is great. You don’t lose the lineage. And there is a pattern to it. [27:00] One of the reasons why the VFX industry has adapted to [the current situation] so well is because in a way, that’s what we do: we adapt to new technology and find ways in which we transfer information sooner and virtually.

Demian: The technology that I wrote about hasn’t changed enough to update it. If we do the 4th Edition, I would add the hybridization of motion capture optical and VFX. Before it was one of the two. Even though we’re working differently these days, it’s the same workflows. Nothing has really changed. Some stuff is in real time now. But it’s the same wisdom that went into that book that’s guiding our on-set productions.

[28:16] Allan: I definitely think that it will be more about adding. If anything, it makes people appreciate the history.

Jeff: Let’s just say that the sections we removed from the book we put on the free version online (like about miniatures and models). The knowledge is still accessible.

Demian: I was at one of the VES events and someone said something about optical compositing. Everyone laughed and I didn’t know what. But it’s good to retain that joke.

Jeff: Dave Stump did me a favor and wrote a section on lens grids which no one talks about.

Demian: That’s a big part of the whole virtual production thing. You’re trying to match some lens to a CG version of the lens. A lot of people don’t even realize that’s a thing.

[29:50] Allan: I have a $600 lens distortion grid downstairs just because I was trying to get the lens information for an 8mm lens. It’s such a critical book for everyone! I talked about compositing with Marc Rienzo (www.allanmckay.com/253) and how people just fall into it and don’t realize the science behind it. You don’t realize how throwing 50 color corrects ends up being destructive. Once you do understand what’s going on, you start to rethink your approach. The more you stop looking at it as a clicking buttons and start to understand the history and where you’re headed, the more it changes your perspective.

Demian: It’s great to have it all in one place. Google is great but there is a lot of noise on the internet. Things get buried under whatever the tweet of the day is. If you don’t save things yourself, this Handbook is invaluable.

David: Not to mention how much you have to vet through to get to that good piece of reference! 

[31:48] Allan: There is so much information out there, it’s great! But that’s the difference between paid and free training. I’m willing to pay for a course that’s got a laid out plan. Having one true source is really effective.

David: The other thing that’s great about The Handbook is that I found myself writing things that felt like: “I don’t want you to go through the same pains that I’ve gone through, so let me just cut to the chaise and tell you what I do. There may be a hundred ways to do this, but this is what’s worked for me. And I’m telling you this over the two pages of a chapter but it took me 4.5 years to get to that conclusion.”

[32:57] Allan: Jeff, I’ve asked you this before: For you, where do you start? Like, “Chapter one: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”?

Jeff: Actually, we start with, “It was a dark and stormy night.” I sat in a dark room and came up with an outline. Once I had that, I got my Co-Editor involved and we reached out to our next circle, to discuss what needs to be in there or not. With the VES Society, we have to go to the Board. So you have 36 members and opinions. That formed a committee. Everyone knows someone that knows somebody, so the circles went deep. The point is that we had so many experterts and each was overjoyed to share their ways and shortcuts. When you hit that wall of impossible, there are 3-4 ways to look at the situation. The book is filled with hands-on wisdom. It’s a technical manual of people sharing their hard earned wisdom.

[35:40] Allan: I want to go around the room and chat about your contributions. But with the latest Edition, what are the bigger additions?

Jeff: Oh, man! We have 11 redone sections in the book. The one of the highest interests right now is virtual reality. Dave Stump updated the digital cameras. David Tanaka updated the post-production side. David Johnson almost completely rewrote the chapter on games. The animation section has been revised. It’s easier to say what stayed the same. For me, the 3D section that Marcus Alexander did used to be a bit redundant and now it’s pretty powerful. What’s great about it: Never mind the 3D movies! It’s about how to composite a frame together, it’s about lighting. It’s about thinking through the project to get somewhere. And the emphasis is on conversion, rather than capture. It’s about making intelligent decisions before you have to spend the money.

[37:56] Allan: I’d love to talk to each of you about your contribution. Maybe we start with David Tanaka?

David: Sure! My neck of the woods is visual effects editing and post-production. The old joke of “Let’s fix it in post” becomes funnier in a sense. So much of post-production is now in pre-production. There used to be VFX and optical supervisors hageling over color wedges on homestrips to decide what the background plates should be. Sure, that medium has gone away but what replaced it is the digital technology and the resolution and color timing. It’s not something you’re going to fix in post-production now, you have to think about it ahead of time. You can draw an old schematic, maybe even 10 years ago:

  • Shoot the material;
  • Edit the material;
  • Bring it to a VFX facility;
  • Produce it;
  • Spit it out;
  • Somewhere in there, start your communication with the lab.

I literally drew pictures in the new chapter on asset management and I kept putting the lab in different places. And then I realized, the lab is in the middle and we’re circling around it. What I find fascinating is what we’re dancing around: The intent behind the methodology hasn’t changed. The technology has changed but the approach is relatively the same. You have better tools! And the other thing that’s changed is the staffing behind it. I used to do VFX editing at ILM. Of course, there is asset management. But you have the payoff of editing within a shot — pacing the shot — before it went to compositing. That has changed a lot! Science has sped up the process. The procedures happen earlier in the process. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve graduated from VFX editing because it became more about management. You have that box where you have all the elements in it and you have one person manipulating them. In a large part, that’s what I see the 3rd Edition has documented.

[42:23] Allan: What about you, DJ? What are your contributions?

DJ: Chapter 8! The real time chapter had a complete rewrite. There are a lot of things that are similar: modeling, lighting, animation. The techniques and tools are fundamentally the same. I do focus on things unique to games, what’s different and special about them. I break down what all the departments and roles are within the art team. There is a nice chunk on optimization. In game engines, you need to run at 60 or 30 frames per second. That means you have 16.6 seconds to draw to know how much time was spent on things. I dig into tools like in Engine Graphs and deeper analysis. There is one tool we use called PIX to capture the memory of a consul on a single frame. You can step through the rendering of it. You can look at the nanoseconds of timing to help debug. I talk about the future of gaming. It’s a long chapter.

[44:35] Allan: I’m definitely fascinated with real time. Even with some studios not finishing shots in comp. Now, film and games are starting to blend. What about you, Demian? What were your contributions?

Demian: I worked on the motion capture section. There used to be an optical and commercial versions, but only this year you started to see the hybridization of those. We didn’t update too much on the motion capture section, but there was a lot of updating in the virtual production section. Virtual production can mean different things to different people. Mandalorian and COVID-19 accelerated the interest in this thing that’s essential digitization. Something that digitizes the camera to real time playback. You can mix and match what technology to use. It’s a spectrum of approaches. I run a social media section on Facebook and LinkedIn and we have had a lot of people join it. The idea of working remotely and bringing the set to you. I think VR is not going anywhere. My kids socialize in VR. You throw the headset on and  you’re on set. I’m sure it’s all documented and it’s super hot right now and COVID has accelerated that interest.

[47:50] Allan: It’s kind of blowing my mind how accessible VR has become. My buddy Goro Fujita [at Facebook] will be on a plane and doing VR. It’s pretty amazing that it’s become accessible.

Demian: It’s like a crapy holodeck for the VFX industry: I need to be in the [Czech Republic]. I can throw my Quest and be there, with no quarantine.

[48:44] Allan: Dave Stump, do you want to chime in?

Dave: All of this is true and it’s moving at a rapid pace. But that means that all of us have to evolve. One of the things I keep reiterating about integrating game engine and LED walls is that people neglect to understand that now the cinematographer is also the compositor. He / she has to take responsibility for the final pixels on the screen. That’s not a trivial duty or task. All of what we do, everyone is evolving. Part of it is that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we have to evolve! The only way to stay relevant is to stay current.

[49:52] Allan: Do you want to elaborate more on that?

Dave: Cinematographers have an enormous power on set. They have a sway over directors and power over the finished image. If you’re compositing a background into a set in post-production, you might spend 10-15 hours refining the comp. Whereas if you add it to a set, you don’t spend time color correcting that image. You’ve shortchanged in comp. 

Demian: So instead of “fix it in post”, you “fix it in pre!” I’ve seen these diagrams. A lot of the stuff has moved to before you even start doing things but you get your assets in place. It’s hard to wrap your head around for some people. That does mean you can have a more collaborative workflow. You might have some happy accidents. And you have to know what you’re doing! 

Dave: And you have to be able to make a decision and live with it! That’s the hardest part about this. A lot of people like to leave everything open until the last moment. You have to make choices earlier and live with them or pay for not living with them.

David: I’ve seen it a lot in post-production, especially with the advent of higher resolution, a lot of filmmakers having different demands. You can’t just be an editor. You have to be a post supervisor and color grader. You have to know about compositing and motion graphics. Being a freelancer, I’ve seen good professional work and sloppy work as well. People are relying on technology. This stuff has to be planned ahead of time. 

Jeff: I’ve been doing cutting edge technology for a long time now. The real issue we’re running into is the pipeline. For some reason, VFX became the reason creatives put off making a decision until the last possible moment. But when you get where we are right now, I’ve been in a situation where the director is seeing. Suddenly you have 3 model builders moving the door because it’s not where they wanted it to be. What everyone is saying is that the new technology puts the emphasis on pre-production more than ever! Pre-production should be 16 weeks, not 8! When you step on that set, given the cost of everything, you’re burning dollars, so you better know what you’re doing! What I say about The Handbook is that if producers would just take a glance, it pays off on set thousand fold. On Mandalorian, the LED wall had the ability to become a green screen. 

[56:41] Allan: I remember watching a documentary in ‘95 and it ended with the innovation of CGI, anything being possible. For people who don’t have the understanding of VFX, it’s like giving a nuclear weapon to a baby.

Jeff: One thing that the industry has done a horrible job of — is [fail to] promote the fact that it’s not the computers that drive it, but the artists. When you go to a DP, you don’t tell them how to do their job. But in VFX, they always ask for the “Do it faster / cheaper!” button. If you take two artists at a computer, one will turn out art and the other will make you want to shoot yourself.

[58:21] Allan: Just to loop back to what Dave was saying, the first time I supped a project, on paper my job was “the fall guy”: I took the fall for all the mistakes. The experience you have through mistakes allows you to pivot and make choices on the fly. Having this Handbook, you bring that knowledge into one place. Jeff, do you want to mention what you’re responsible for? And how did you decide on which contributor did which part?

Jeff: Susan and I do the breakdown. It’s in concentric circles. Then we reached out to experts in the field. Each chapter had a captain. They reached out to their network. Then we collect all the writing. The first draft comes out and it becomes about how long it is. The editorial process is about putting it together and dealing with the publisher. We have a new layout on the page to accommodate more text. At the end of the day, we rely on our experts and the captains. Every captain has a stunning network.

[1:01:22] Allan: What were your contributions to The Handbook, besides running the whole show?

Jeff: I edited it and some people can’t write — so you rewrite [their stuff]. You send that back and you work with them to develop their section. Some writers don’t want to have those sections touched. I collaborated with everyone in the book and we picked the colors and photos. Susan takes on getting clearance on photos. All the writers have been very giving with their content.

[1:02:45] Allan: I used to do contributions to books. And then, I’d get asked to get a clearance from a studio and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I was just starting out in the industry. And it’s not like you call someone up in media relations!

Demian: One of the good things about this book is that we’re all usually bound by the NDA’s and we can’t share things. But it helps people to have it out.

[1:04:04] Allan: Just knowing that I have all these experts on, what technical innovations do you have eyes on right now? 

Jeff: I’ll start! As we know, LED walls are 2-dimensional things. I’ve been following someone who is developing a 3D wall, not in tracking but in the way it handles data. From your perspective, you can shoot multiple cameras. I think it’s a year and half out. It also becomes a television set, if anyone wants it to be. It’s a giant step forward if they pull it off.

Demian: Deep Fakes are interesting to me, as well as AI. All the tool sets are starting to leverage out. That whole thing is so new! There is a thing where you can dub your lips in Deep Fakes. You can do CG with flyby wires. 

[1:07:16] Allan: Digital Domain has been doing some fascinating stuff with 3D and performance capture. 

Dave: I’m following developments in cameras that change the ways they capture photons. It’s more like an odometer that counts every photon. The reason I’m so enthralled by it is because it gives us dynamic range and contrast. I was doing light field photography for several years. I was working with phaserate light censors. It is one of the dreams of our industry to do volumetric capture.

[1:09:07] Allan: I remember meeting a cinematographer decades ago and it’s fascinating to see this tech loop around and come back. How big of a range are you talking about?

Dave: We don’t even know yet! If you count single photons that fast, it’s potentially just a reporting device. Like every technology, every technology has to follow the adoption bell curve. Right now, that tech is in the chasm. We don’t know what we’re going to use it for, but someone who grows up with it will know what to do with it.

[1:11:04] Allan: To jump to David, what are your thoughts?

David: On my end, it’s about speed and portability. It’s about being ready to pick up your stuff and go, physically or remotely. You have pre- and post-production. The editor takes on a lot of these tasks as well. I proposed that back at ILM. VFX editing and compositing should’ve been combined back then. We spend laborious hours writing down instructions. But that’s where I see post-production heading. The 3 stages are now part of the same thing! 

[1:12:49] Allan: I think it will become arbitrary after a while. You have a lot of things trying to tie together. And DJ, what about you?

DJ: Games are evolving so fast, it’s hard to keep up. We just got ray tracing which is a big deal. On the horizon, I hear it’s machine learning, like Demian mentioned. The next generation is about to hit with PX5 and Xbox series. The ultra fast storage is a pretty big deal. Fluid sims is something people have their eye on. Heavy simulations have a lot of room for growth. One other thing that I have my eye on will be just what distributed computing can do. I imagine a day when a load distribution can occur over networks. Like my Xbox wants more load right now! Render farms for real time will be a thing.

[1:16:00] Allan: Guys, this has been so cool! I’m definitely excited to get my hands on the 3rd Edition. Where can people get it right now?

Jeff: If you’re a VES Member, you should go to the publisher’s site and use your discount code. And if you are not a Member, go to Amazon. It’s a costly publication. 

[1:17:12] Allan: Thank you, guys!

Jeff: I want to thank you all for co-writing this. It’s nothing without you!

 

I hope you got a lot from this Episode. I want to thank everyone for coming on, on this Round Table. Please let me know if you’d like to see more of these Round Tables. I have a really cool one coming up with Epic. 

Please take a few moments to share this Episode around. I will be back next week. I have some cool Episodes coming up: one with Tom Ross and Mike Janda and one Episode (next week) on how to get paid by your clients. 

Until next week —

Rock on! 

 

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