Victoria Alonso Talks VFX Production, Marvel and The Avengers
VA: Well, technology is our key. Without the technology we couldn’t move the data and we couldn’t create the imagery. So, without it we would be dead in the water. I think the most important thing in the last five years that we’ve had to do is to adjust to this global way of working, because our films have very tight security. Fans are very happy to get their hands on our information before it comes out. And although we appreciate how happy they are to get their hands on our stuff early, there is a time and a place for everyone to know because we don’t want you to see something that is not ready to be seen.
Part of the global way of working makes people at our company a little uneasy because it is very difficult to keep that security tight. So we go to great lengths to make sure that they [companies we work with] pass our audit. And even at that point you know stuff gets out on the Internet. You can’t help it, but we try in every which way that we can.
Technology is that phenomenon that changes every other hour. Just when you think you have it down there are three other plugins or tools that you can use on something else that could make it faster, quicker and more photorealistic. So, it’s a race to consistently try to keep up with what’s the latest. I mean, I’ve seen it where from the beginning of the movie to the end of the movie, the software goes two notches up within the same platform. And the idea is that no, no, you can’t change now. You don’t want to go to the new version or the version after that because then, what if it doesn’t work out? That’s one thing we always battle.
These movies take a long time to get done. They’re not done in 3 months, they’re done usually in 18 months. So, within 18 months, technically speaking, everything changes and a lot of it, I would say 70% of it, has had an upgrade. It’s a challenge trying to balance how to utilize that technology to get you to the best that you can get, and how to protect the imagery to make sure it doesn’t get hurt before we release it.
DS: You mentioned one of the cons of a global pipeline is security. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the pros and cons of using a global pipeline?
VA: I think the disadvantages could be that you trust different companies in different parts of the world have the same way of working as you do. Because every culture is different.
The biggest challenge for all of us as we go global is to make sure that we protect the way we work in order to make sure that the processes that are put in place from production to facilities stay consistent. If you’re working in Asia, or you’re working in Europe, or you’re working in Africa, they don’t work the same way that we work in the United States. We have to make sure that we find a bridge to understand how they work and how we need to accommodate the needs of the show. Or, they try to work the way we work, so we know when we ask what is needed that we’re going to get it. That’s one of the biggest hurdles. The talent is out there, it’s wonderful that it’s out there and I think we should utilize it as much as possible. I’ve been a huge proponent of keeping the work in the United States and I try really hard. There are times I’m not able to, and that’s hard.
DS: It seems like it’s getting harder.
VA: It’s harder every day because not only do you get better prices but you also get tax incentives. So, the companies in the United States, they don’t have a prayer sometimes. It’s just, you can’t compete with this number. It’s unfortunate but that’s where we’re going. If I hear one more time that visual effects companies don’t make any money I’m going to lose my – like, “If you don’t make any money don’t do it.”
DS: Yeah that’s…