Academy Award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll recently chatted with ComputerWorld magazine about his thoughts on the future of CGI and where it’s going. The Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) guru discusses the history of CGI and its development over the years in such films as Tron (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year), Young Sherlock Holmes and Pirates of the Caribbean.
From ComputerWorld magazine:
What was the perception of computers’ roles and their future in Hollywood 25 years ago?
There were a lot of people who were watching it. I had a friend who would get the SIGGRAPH film and video show tapes. I borrowed a bunch of them from him and was really intrigued by the imagery — some of it was mind-bending. I thought, ‘This is related to what I do; someday this is going to have an influence on visual effects.’ We were watching it very closely.
Did Tron vindicate the use of computer graphics and influence the direction ILM was taking?
I think it was an appropriate use of computer graphics at the time — that they probably couldn’t have reached a whole lot further than they did at the time. It opened everyone’s eyes to something they should be watching because it had a lot of potential.
Was there a tipping point for computer graphics, both for general audiences and for actors?
I think people just got used to it. When computer graphics was a very new technique, I think a lot of people didn’t know what to make of it, and as it’s become more and more ubiquitous and the quality has gone up, I think it’s inspired less fear.
For example, I had a very fruitful and friendly relationship with Bill Nighy [who plays Davy Jones] on the Pirates pictures because we were both contributing our best to the creation of a character. He was very much the author of the performance and so he didn’t feel he was a cog in the machine, or that his artistic contribution would then somehow be adulterated by a bunch of computer graphics geeks. We understood what he was doing and tried to preserve it to the best extent possible. I think when actors see those kinds of relationships and collaborations working, they see it as a creative possibility as opposed to something that’s destroying the craft of filmmaking and storytelling.
Read the full interview here:
Knoll on CGI, Tron and 25 years of change