I watched these B-roll clips of The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug and it struck me on how without sound, music and VFX it actually made it almost seem comical.
Seeing elves, orcs and wizards running around, trying to talk seriously without all the music and effects, really made me realise how much these other elements add to the overall film.
Now of course having made a couple of short films I’ve seen first hand how these elements can really take a scene that, when on set I was worried wouldn’t come across in the finished version as I’d imagined. Only to see it come alive in post and actually be better than I’d hoped.
But it’s nice to see that even the big budget movies have that same problem. Even with great actors they really do lack so much.
Of course music and VFX are a huge part of this but I think this really demonstrates how even the little foley sound effects that you wouldn’t normally think would make much of a difference really can help to tell the story.
For example at around 2:46 of this video one of the dwarfs shuts someone in what looks like a prison (I haven’t seen the movie yet). My first thought was, he hasn’t locked that the guy could just get out. But of course by simply adding a sound of a latch going in post the audience has a key story element that wasn’t ever told on set.
Or another example is the fight scenes. Ignoring the fact that a lot of the times they’re hitting each other with green batons. These scenes still appear and sound funny because there’s no sounds to back up the power of the weapons they’re meant to be using. Just adding metal clashing sounds and thuds would add so much more dramas to this piece.
The other great thing about watching these videos is it really goes to show how much has to be added in post in terms of VFX.
The Hobbit and LOTR were known for shooting a lot on real sets and trying to keep as much stuff in camera as possible. I really believe this is the best approach. One only has to watch things like The Phantom Menace to realise the difference in an actors performance.
But no matter how much is shot on set, there’s still so much to do in post. There’s the obvious stuff like adding vast vistas to the background. Or adding a dragon to the pile of gold. These all take a hell of a lot of work and a hell of a lot of very talented artists.
But these are actually just a small part of the visual effects. There’s so many bits that people don’t realise need to be added or replaced. So many things that are invisible in the final film (as they should be) but are a vital part of creating the illusion.
For example when Legolas is being pulled along by wires to make him look like he’s sliding. Some one has to paint those wires out.
Or the real swords reflecting the green screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just ended up replacing those swords with CG versions.
Even removing an extra because the director felt that one was distracting from the main action. It’s these bits that make up 70% of the VFX.
Without these artists these films wouldn’t be half as grand as they are and it’s a real shame that so many great artists are out of work at the moment due to studios closing their doors through bankruptcy.
Till next time.