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Blaine Brothers: The philosophy of everyday VFX

It's the tiny details that are easy to lose, but the Blaine Brothers use VFX to try to keep those subtle or charming details in their work.
So it kind of opens you up, on a micro-budget, to moments of inspiration. There are really simple things, like when, in the film, there’s a moment when the main character is asleep on the sofa. And we just– as we’re looking at the show, it was like, oh, it’d be really nice just to create this sense of his paranoia, that everyone else in the world is talking about him, to see some people walk past the window. And it’s like, we’ve really got to move on. We don’t have time for that. Well, I went, hang on. So we just got Kim, the second AD (assistant director) and you to walk past the window– At different times.
–at different times, when the actor wasn’t in the room. It’s like, don’t move the camera, just get that as a plate. And you have that, and then when you put that together in post, suddenly it becomes this thing where, as the viewer, you’re watching him, and you just have this so slight movement behind him, and that’s enough. And it just sparks all this stuff up in your head as the viewer.
It’s all those little tiny details that, when you’re working on a micro-budget, are really easy to lose, because you’ve got to focus. You’ve got to get the day. You’ve got to focus on the essentials. Yeah. But then the film ends up being just the essentials. And actually, what makes a film so rich and enjoyable is when you have all the little details working constantly to keep you on track and to tell the story. So much of it is fakery. It’s that thing of– it’s just another level of VFX.
It’s just another level of fakery, to add into the fact that you’re dressing someone up and you’re shining lights in their faces, and, like bad costume, comes down to you’ve not properly observed what someone like that person in reality actually wears. That can– sometimes people just miss it, and sometimes when you see, somebody’s like, why? Why am I uncomfortable with this scene? What it is, is like, she would never have worn that. She would never have worn that in that occasion. And VFX is exactly the same skill. VFX– most of the time you’re going, how do I do something?
It’s not about the magic of, well, we’ve done it in the computer, and we’ve created this algorithm to be able to create the waves. Most of the time you just film some water. We love using VFX. But VFX aren’t the answer to everything. And if you’ll be able to frame, and use sound design especially, to be able to give the suggestion, then a lot of the time people’s minds are going to be imagining the thing that you’re suggesting.

After all that talk about Roto, it’s time to get back to the world of ideas, and think about how VFX can help.

VFX gives the Blaine Brothers more choices to express ideas, and capture moments of inspiration. Something as simple as being able to put shadows at a window can create or enhance a mood.

According to Ben, “It’s those little tiny details that when you’re working on a micro budget are really easy to lose”. VFX gives them a chance to add inspiration in later.

To the Blaine Brothers VFX is just another layer of fakery – like lighting, editing and foley sound. Just like everyone uses lighting or editing to assist the story, so the Blaine Brothers use VFX.

Can you think of simple VFX based around masking that you could add to a film you might be planning? Want to share with us below in the comments?

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