The answer is, pretty quickly. You’re able to develop your skills and learn by doing, and you’re able to see the world around you. But there are still a lot of people out there who haven’t worked with us that don’t really know what they’re doing, and they’ll be in our position eventually.”
It’s not a perfect world yet. There are plenty of filmmakers who don’t have degrees or who aren’t currently working in visual effects, and they can’t be replaced in the foreseeable future. If you’re like me, finding the right people isn’t always easy. “You have to sort of pick them out of the ether from some other group,” said DeKnight. “That’s the hard part. But I’ll tell you one of my mentors who really wanted to work in film was the director of The Martian. That was actually a guy who hadn’t worked professionally in the film industry; he used to work as a photographer. I actually found out that he was an artist at heart.”
Duke Johnson isn’t one of these artists. He’s not just an animator or an environmentist; he’s one of the most experienced people at Duke. He’s the visual effects supervisor and lead artist on Mad Max: Fury Road—the third in the franchise—as well as the visual effects supervisor on the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The new film in the franchise will feature the voices of Eddie Redmayne and Daniel Radcliffe, with a whole new cast. And Johnson isn’t just an animator; he’s an action designer and visual effects supervisor as well. He and his team are designing the environment—which is what sets the rest of the movie apart from other films—as well as the special effects. And that brings you back to the first question on everyone’s mind when the third movie hits theaters: What does this mean for visual effects supervisors?
It depends on the project, said DeKnight, and Duke’s process. “I’m in a pretty good position where I’m able to put together different ideas on how to do visual effects. This is different from when I was at Lucasfilm. For one, I’ve learned that at Lucasfilm, there’s no set timeline for working on a film, and the production is more on an ongoing creative process. But what we can do is give feedback and suggestions and work on developing the idea and seeing it come, and also see each individual project from different angles and
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