Have you ever watched a movie and wondered how on earth it is possible for an actor to be shot dead but he ends up alive in another movie or have you seen cars burn to ashes and wondered how much was wasted burning cars? Well, those actions happen through the magic of special effects.
By Daro Umaigba
In describing VFX, you get 3D animation and motion graphics and have them combined with live-action. Life actions are real human actions that are shot with the camera. So for instance, in trying to re-enact someone driving over a bridge, it might not be practical without risking the actor’s life. So what we do is create a 3D model of the car and even the person. Then we take what we call a life plate of the bridge and with computer and software, we make the car jump over the bridge. That’s what will constitute the visual effect shot.
We are growing in the Nigerian movie scene and are gradually moving from poorly executed VFX. I would admit that there are still projects completed below-par, but a lot of people in Nigeria are doing great nonetheless. We are not quite yet at the Hollywood stage but we are making progress.
There are still a number of challenges to the growth of VFX is Nigeria, however.
From the technical angle, the epileptic power supply is a major problem. The reality of it is when you are talking of visual effects; you are talking of a lot of processing power and ranging that has to happen on a computer. As funny as it sounds, some of the pitfalls of not been able to achieve some of the kind of visual effects we want is the poor power supply.
When you think of the time that would go into creating the images, it is possible to get discouraged. It is a very big factor militating against the growth of VFX in Nigeria. If the state of power supply improves, it will change a whole lot.
Another challenge is mediocrity. Not many people have the mind of excellence. Instead of spending a little more time to achieve a particular design, work that is ‘just okay’ is accepted because there is that lack of commitment to excellence.
There is also a lack of education with regards to what visual effects should be and how it should be executed. Many people are not educated on how and when to use visual effects. The truth of the matter is that the best visual effects are the ones that you don’t notice, those that enable the story as opposed to doing visual effects for the sake of doing visual effects.
Visual effects that are properly done should immerse you into the story and not distract you. You shouldn’t see a visual effect and realize it is fake fire. No, you should see the fire and feel like the actor is getting burnt. That’s something some have not yet understood. There is a huge knowledge gap in using VFX.
But there is hope if we can only get some things right and be ready to put in the work. If we want the quality we hope to attain as regards to VFX, then there is much to be done.
As I mentioned earlier, there has to be a commitment to excellence, commitment to doing things properly. Regarding education, I always tell people that you need to just decide to want to learn. There are so many resources available online, if you spend some time searching, you will be amazed by the amount of information you are able to get. I am a testimony to it; I am largely self-taught. There has to be a permanent commitment to learning and excellence.
Also, VFX demands attention to details. At times, less is more. If the visual effect doesn’t enable your story, there might be no need to do it. There are some more practical things that you might need to do and not necessarily commit to visual effects.
It is also important that we find more ways to collaborate. If you look at a typical Hollywood movie and you look at the cast or more importantly, the crew and those behind the scenes, you will be amazed at the number of people and studios that came together. I think it is something we need to imbibe here in Nigeria as well. There are people doing a lot of brilliant stuff and if these people come together, they will be able to make more amazing projects.
Some people like to encourage government investment, but I do not follow that line of thought. I feel private organizations and individuals should think about investing in the industry instead. The movie industry is a million dollar industry. Moreover, the truth is people are already making a lot from it, the Bank of Industry is an example.
So we need to get our acts together. If we do that, there is a whole lot we can achieve.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.