... This year several of the finalists for the visual-effects Oscar nomination are pushing the boundaries of f/x lighting, blurring the lines between “practical” and “digital” effects, and along the way, using that lighting to integrate actors with vfx in ways that could only have been dreamed of before.
“When it comes to lighting, you basically have three scenarios,” says Lindy De Quattro, co-vfx supervisor on “Pacific Rim.” “You have putting a CG character in a live-action environment, putting a live-action character in a CG environment, and then putting a CG character in a CG environment.” “Gravity” and “Oblivion” pushed the envelope on the second scenario, while “Pacific Rim” used all three situations.
In “Gravity’s” spacewalk shots, everything on the screen is digital except Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s faces, which are lit by the “light box” invented for the picture. But “Oblivion” had its own giant equivalent of the light box, used to light stars Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. Meanwhile “Pacific Rim” took digital lighting to “operatic” and “romantic” heights. ...
The line between digital environments and real ones has almost completely disappeared in 21st century movies.
Take the most recent filmic incarnation of The Great Gatsby. The mansions, the oceanfront, the city and bridges, just about all those things are created in computers.
Mainstream film-makers now go for heightened (may we say caricatured?) realism in live-action movies. The kind of stuff that's been done in animation for years. And the lines between actual reality and the type that's created in a computer will continue to blur.
It's why I've suggested to the IATSE (our mother international) that any future visual effects guild should have the Animation Guild tucked inside it. Because the creation of live-action visual effects and the making of animated features is, for all intents and purposes, the same work on the same machines with the same software.