I have written before about how the visual special effects (VFX) industry in the US is in a sorry state. Even as so many major American films based their success on special effects and had spectacular box office returns, the industry that was so essential to their success was itself collapsing.
Nowhere was this ironic juxtaposition more apparent than during the 2013 Academy Awards show when the film Life of Pi was garnering the Oscar for special effects for the company at the same time that the company that created them Rhythm and Hues was filing for bankruptcy and its members were demonstrating in front of the building where the awards show was going on.
A reader who works in the industry sent me links to articles that describe the complicated system of subsidies and tax breaks that has created this messy state of affairs where the VFX companies chase after subsidies.
He also sent me a link to a trailer for a short documentary about the situation produced by the people who work at Rhythm and Hues even as the company was folding. It will be released on February 25, 2014. In it you will see how what is essentially a stuffed toy gets transformed into the ‘tiger’ that was seen in the film Life of Pi. The ability of people to do such things impresses me no end. Even the people who actually do it seem almost as incredulous as I am about what they can now do.
Here’s the trailer.