Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Flash Frame Visuals Academy, Bangalore, India

Friday, 18 May 2012

Content 'affects' vs Visual 'effects'

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
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Content ‘affects’ vs Visual ‘effects’

While flipping the pages of Times of India newspaper on May 10, 2012, I came across this article ‘Give comrades B’wood’. Thinking it to be a usual routine content talking about Russians love for Hindi movies, I was about to skip it, until an interesting line just caught my attention. It was a quote from one of the Moscow resident who said ‘I like India films because they are sentimental (read story/human connection), unlike Hollywood flicks which are all special effects’.

Don’t get me wrong here. My intention is not to say that Bollywood rules over Hollywood or vice versa. The point that I am trying to make here is the fact that there still exists audience for whom what matters more is the story, the content to which they themselves are able to connect to.

That is exactly what I am going to talk about in this blog, which reads ‘content affects vs visual effects’, which also means making a right choice between the ‘affect’ that your story or content will make as compared to solely depending on visual ‘effects’ to grab the audience eyeballs.

FFVA student with storyboard
Lets say one wants to make a film. But basically who is your target? It’s no one else but the hundreds of strangers sitting in a blackened room, elbow to elbow, for two or more hours, with their eyes fixed on big screen, investing all their possible concentration. How you think you would be able to compel such immense mental and sentiment attention from the audience? Only if your audience is able to connect to the story, relate to the situation your protagonist is being thrown into, the way he overcomes his conflict situations…in short the journey through which you take your audience through.

Robert McKee has rightly said that the audience must not just understand your story, it must believe. Audiences are rarely interested and certainly never convinced when forced to listen or believe or sync into the scenes or even the story. The best example I can think here is Ra.One (Hindi flick). They made the protagonist do every possible bizarre thing, used the best of visual effects and tried to convince the audience that he is the next big thing in the town. But it flopped big time. 

Reason being the story, that had not just few but many flaws which audience were too clever to find out and preferred to stay intelligent still than to believe in their fake gimmick. And that’s the truth. Intellectual analysis and technology, however heady, will not nourish the soul.

Mckee has also mentioned that the more beautifully you shape your work around one clear idea, the more meanings audiences will discover in your film as they take idea and follow its implications into every aspect of their lives. The audience needs to be taken to a limit where all questions are answered and all emotions satisfied..the end of the line! Deep within the protagonist the audience recognise a certain shared humanity. The unconscious logic of audience is like this’. ‘This character is like me. Therefore I want him to have whatever he wants because if I am in his place, I’d want the same thing myself.  And this is definitely not possible only if you depend on VFX.

Next coming to the special ‘effects’… Well, I have nothing against them. Infact they make a very strong source of entertainment for the audience. But the whole point is the way we used them.
Going back to the origin of special affects, the fact is that the history of special effects begins even before the invention of the camera itself. During the 1700s, magicians utilised many techniques to perform optical illusions and astound their audiences. These techniques formed the foundations of special effects.
The greatest changes in the revolution of Special Effects happened in the 20th century, with computers.  Computers helped revolutionized the world of Special Effects in movies. 

No wonder we could even build and resink the "Titanic". So definitely special effects too are important, provided if they are being used at the correct place at the right time, and not simply imposed of audience just like that. Imagine titanic with no love story. Similarly movies like 300, Matrix, District 9 are definitely unimaginable without effects. But the success secret is not just that. They have the most powerful storyline, the screenplay and the way they have juxtaposed effects with the content is truly appreciable.

Storytelling is the backbone of a film - FFVA students during a shoot

So for everyone who thinks that ‘scriptwriting or story is a small thing and anyone can do it’ and its sufficient if they know special effects…well you are highly mistaken. You cannot underestimate your audience for they are too intelligent to figure out that you are trying to compensate your story weakness through your effects, which will never last forever. Time to get your thinking caps on, work on some real good stories, and trap your audience in not just the effects but your film too.

Just an observation: Looking at the Indian and global film industry, we still have best of the technicians and VFX artists who are doing a commendable job. But there are very few who can win hearts only through their stories. So you mind bringing in some change?

References : 
Ra.One Image - Google 

Article written by 
Aditi KK 

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
email : aditi@ffvacademy.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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