Saturday, September 10, 2011

Visual Effects in Unexpected Places: Black Swan

When we think about movies that use CGI the first ones that seem to come to mind are usually flashy action or sci-fi movies that often have quite a hefty budget. One movie that I can think of that has an obvious use of CGI and visual effects is Avatar. You can tell almost instantly when looking at a scene from that movie that a lot of visual effects specialists were needed to create it. There are a number of movies out there, however, which incorporate CGI and visual effects that you may not have even noticed or at least not expected prior to watching it. One example of this technique can be seen in the movie Black Swan.

Black Swan, being a fairly low budget movie about ballet dancers and delusions doesn’t really strike me as a movie that would need many visual effects. One because it had a fairly low budget (about 13 Million) and CGI take lots of time which = money and two because I don’t typically picture a dancing movie needing many explosions or huge green screen scenes. Though in Black Swan, it seems to be the little things that count when it comes to CGI. Watch the video below to see what I mean. I think it shows an interesting inside look into many of the places in the movie that use CGI techniques and how they looked before and after.

I guess I didn’t realize until after watching that video how much of the important elements of the film (rash, feathers, etc) were added with a computer instead of through make-up or costuming. All of the important elements of Portman's delusions (interacting with herself in the mirror, seeing the paintings move, etc) utilized animated components as well. I guess looking back on the movie now it makes a little more sense that there is CGI used in it but it is still not very in your face about it. Some elements such as the face replacement of Natalie Portman’s face over her dance doubles was so seamlessly added that it is not noticeable at all-at least to me (there was a huge scandal connected to the use of face replacement and a dance double in this movie by the way). Next time I watch a movie where I wouldn’t expect there to be CGi I’m going to try to look hard for it because I bet I will be able to find at least one thing. CGI seems to be becoming a staple in movies now and not just in the expected genres.

1 comment :

  1. Apart from the subtle and very effective visual effects in this film you must not forget the extraordinary influence that SOUND has in your perception of visual information. Last March we had (those of us who take advantage of the many opportunities that IC offers throughout the year) the pleasure of meeting Dominick Tavella who won the Academy Award in the sound mixing category for “Chicago” and was a recent British Academy Award nominee for his work in “Black Swan.” He actually showed (in our Park Auditorium) many scenes from Black Swan and went in detail on the process of the sound creation for the scenes. He also told us about how it was to work with Aronofsky and other not so talented directors.