Monday, March 4, 2013

Formics, Flash Suits, and the VFX Industry

It's been an exciting couple weeks in the Ender's Game Movie Universe with the release of another movie still and some logos of Battle School Armies. Every time I see new pictures that show how they are bringing the movie to life, it makes me want to see more.

I go searching for movie related imagery on the internet, mainly using the IMDB, to look up the artists who are working on the movie and then check their online portfolios. (if they have them)

Most of the time I don't get anything, but other times I hit pay dirt.

My latest find comes from a marvelous CG artist named Frank Belardo, check his work out here at His work is phenomenal! Frank happens to be doing work on Ender's Game, but these images are NOT, I REPEAT, NOT, IMAGERY FROM THE MOVIE. He lists these as sketches in his portfolio on his website. Of course, If I get a request to take them down and they disappear from the said artist website ...then you make your own judgements. Not like it hasn't happened before *blank stare*


...but if it was... I wouldn't be mad because they are close too how I envisioned a few things. My first picture resembles how I thought a Formic would look.

I'm not going to spend time trying to find a quote from the book and match the description, his picture just reminded me of my own vision, as you can see below.

How I envisioned the Formics would look from the Ender's Game Movie, art by Darian Robbins

Frank also created a model in his portfiolio that he called "Future G Suit" that I think would be perfect for a Flash Suit.

Future G Suit by Frank Belardo. How I envisioned the Flash Suits would look from the Ender's Game Movi

It is form fitting with protective padding much like a motorcycle rider suit. Below is how I envisioned the Flash Suits.

Flash Suit by Darian Robbins. How I envisioned the Flash Suits would look from the Ender's Game Movie

I make posts like this because not only do I want to see the world that they are creating inspired by one of my most favorite books I have ever read, but more importantly, to highlight the awesome artists who are bringing their expertise to this film. These people are not just names that roll with the credits at the end of the film, they make the vision that you see on screen. They create the environment and the action that allows you to suspend your belief and enjoy the story at it's full capacity. They provide you an escape route to entertainment and make it possible for "unfilmable" films to be made.

There have been news reports that 60% of this movie will have CG effects in it. That's alot. The movie would not look and feel the same without their efforts, technical expertise, nor professionalism. I have never paid to see a movie that had acting in front of a green screen ONLY *cough* ...Before Effects Tumblr. Not denying the power of a great actor to entertain and engage your attention through their talent and  presence alone, but if that is what I wanted for this movie, it should of been a stage play.

With all the turmoil going on the in the VFX industry, I detect a lack of respect for artist like Frank and their contribution to the movies we watch today. I have watched how Rhythm and Hues went bankrupt from their work on Life of Pi. Heck, even Digital Domain, the company responsible for the CG effects on Ender's Game is just emerging from bankruptcy proceedings.  In the Life of Pi, a movie that won Best Visual Effects Oscar because most of what you see on screen is CG, and yet Ang Lee couldn't say any congratulatory note to them? Even the Visual Effects Supervior, Bill Westenhofer, got ran off stage when he tried to mention the plight of the VFX industry. Ridiculous!

I understand the artist are paid a salary in exchange for their efforts, and maybe part of that exchange contractually does not include the "pay" of appropriate recognition in the public. If that is the case then Studios and VFX company's should make sure the the "appropriate" recognition should be the type that folds and fits well in the wallet.  That "appreciation" should be enough to fund that artist's life so that they can continue to make art and worlds that Movie Studios love to capitalize.

Unfortunately, that doesn't even seem to be the case anymore, as evidenced by the growing amount of frustration and protestation I am learning about from social media of VFX artists (Check out the VFXsoldier Blog). I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant, and surely I am missing some understandings about transactions  between Movie Studios and the VFX industry. I am an outsider looking in, and there are alot of things I admit I do not know. But what I am seeing...I'm not liking. So, if there is something I am missing from the studio side, please inform me.

As I have researched artists who have or are working on this movie and shared brief engagements with some of them, cI have come to respect their hard work and creativity. Not Frank, btw, I have never communicated with or met him. Hope too though! I would hate for Ender's Game to get some awards next year, but not recognize the talented individuals behind the scenes that make the impossible possible and bring fresh stories to our eyes to enjoy. This sentiment extends to prop makers, costumist, gaffers, lighting, etc....everyone behind the camera. I acknowledge your talent and effort.

May the spotlight shine as brightly on you as you take a bow.

In the future, I will highlight some more artist working on this movie. They deserve shine as well!


1 comment:

  1. you've got some great artwork on here man. kepp up the great work!

    p.s. are there any other EGMovie stills been released, since the recent one of the Launchies at Attention in the barracks?