Getting in the VFX Trenches
SF: Most all of it is live action, but there are some shots that are pure CG, such as space shots, and we mainly use LightWave and a little 3ds Max and After Effects for all my composites. Lee Stringer [Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Battlestar Galactica], who is my CG supe-- he's in Singapore now working on Clone Wars. But this was the first time I've ever had a CG supe. It's usually been me, and, as you probably know, working with effects is extremely difficult. Sometimes it's better working with five prima donnas than working with effects artists. It takes a lot of energy and effort and man hours cranking away on keyframes and so forth to get it done. And with the type of budget that you have for Trenches, it's a tall order.
BD: How many vfx people do you have working for you?
SF: Well, because it's freelance, it's been my experience with all my films that the turnover is huge. You get a guy who's all hot and heavy and as soon as you give him a shot, a couple months go by and either they don't deliver or what they do deliver [isn't good enough]. And they come and go. Another gig comes around where they're actually paying, and they don't answer your phone call. All my previous films were volunteers so we didn't get paid anything. But there was an actual budget on this one where I was paying people, so I explained to them what I'm doing and what I'm trying to create for this level and what I was paying. This was a real opportunity for their work to be seen on Crackle. And there's a lot of talent out there, but we all have to pay the bills. But my very good friend, Zafer Mustafa, who's always been my TD and effects guru, had to come in and do some shots, because the guys just weren't getting it done. When it came down to it, it was really me and Zafe that finished it. I do compositing -- I'm not really a 3D artist -- so, in episode one, any time it's a laser explosion, visual cameras and tracking, that's me. When it's a 3D object, it's usually Zafe or Lee and some of his guys. But episode nine and 10 are very effects heavy, and that's basically me and Zafe getting those done. I called in some of the old crew from Revelations to help get it done. But this is a fun popcorn adventure and a good escape. But hopefully the effects lend to it.
Bill Desowitz is Senior Editor of AWN & VFXWorld.