Editor's Notebook: What good is technology?
What good is technology?
While the advances in technology may be astounding as we can read about in John Edgar Park's "Low-Cost Solutions, High-End Results" and offering new opportunities to the masses as we can see by Mark Winstanley's "Making It To The Web," Richard Taylor is dead on when he says, "Special effects are no value in themselves or by themselves." Sure, animation geeks like us will go to movies just for the effects and ogle at them with glee, but we know when the package they are wrapped in is terrible. And so does the general movie going public. Technology is great, and technology will get us those eye-popping effects better, faster and stronger, but they are of no use unless properly utilized to tell a story or impart the desired emotion.
Effects studios need the staff that knows every plug-in and every version of the available tools out there. They are the unsung heroes who provide the correct tools to the artists. The artists in turn must use these tools to make us feel the story, another tremendous task: getting the timing just so...making the character perform what becomes a classic gesture. It is amazing to me the melding of left-brain and right-brain people that go into each and every project. Somewhere in the middle ground lies a wonderful turf, where the "tech heads" have empowered the artists by providing them with the correct tools that will enhance, and not encumber, their work. As effects tools (software and hardware) become more and more complex, varied and specific, the more important those in the know are. Bruce Manning clearly states in "The Technology Circle" that all tools are in possible need on a project...not just the latest and the best. While every software version might not be selling across the board anymore, effects studios need to know about the tools that are available in order to stay on top in a wildly competitive arena.
And then there are those that do it all. Those that are not only artists but also highly, highly knowledgeable of what tools are at their disposal and how to eke the most out of them. This is a new breed, a new multi-media breed, that is only going to become more, and more, apparent -- and not only in the commercial realm. Chris Lanier and Andy Murdock are two such artists with this approach. Chris' description of Andy's latest work, which he saw at Sundance, is amazing!
Across this issue from article to article came this idea of using many tools to create one final product. Jacquie Kubin's discussion of the recent Toy Fair states that properties with many approaches to the consumer are the winners. In this new digital world, the same models can be used for the video game, television series, packaging and then put onto the Web through clever interfaces and applications.
In this new world, we must all, especially the artist, be savvy. Case in point, Jean Detheux, an artist who had to switch from using organic materials to the computer quite suddenly due to an allergy. Rather than being afraid of this medium, intimidated, he has grasped it wholeheartedly as a new opportunity to speak in his unique voice. In fact, in "Standing at the Crossroads," he asks many pertinent questions not just to the inhabitants of la Réunion, but to us all. Regardless of which tools, what technology, comes our way, we must always strive to master it, in order to use it to speak, not only to the project, but about ourselves.
Until Next Time,
What good is technology?