24th May2015

Book Review: ‘Inside VFX’

by Paul Metcalf


If you are a movie geek like me you tend to look beyond what you see on-screen to what happens behind the scenes.  For horror fans the “CGI” can be a dreaded thing, but it also is a necessary thing, especially as movies become bigger and more extravagant.  As filmgoers though we tend to not really know about the world of post-processing, until now.  With Inside VFX by Pierre Grage we get a glimpse into just how the world of VFX has shaped the Hollywood business and just how important it is becoming.

On the back of the book we get a brief biography about Pierre Grage where it states he has a degree in Economics as well as working in the VFX world, and this is important to the book.  He looks at the industry with an economist’s eye, and when Hollywood is all about the mighty dollar this is actually quite important.  Through looking at the movies we know and love, he connects with the reader and pulls us into the world of movies and why VFX is important, whether we realise it or not.

Inside VFX is an eye-opener because it isn’t about how to get into that world or a book about the mechanics of applying processes, this book is about how the movie industry works and just why they are made.  With all of the numbers that are mentioned in the book it could be very easy to get lost, and as a person with a brain that doesn’t “do” numbers I would be the perfect person to have this problem.  Thankfully although Pierre Grage does provide plenty of statistics, he never drown us in the details and get too technical.  In fact if he does get into something more complicated he offers a primer about the subject to at least let us know what he is about to discuss.

What the book does is to teach us not only how important the world of VFX is, but also how things need to change in the industry.  It comes as a surprise at how the companies who specialise in this kind of work struggle.  We all know Pixar, ILM and Weta and we see them as huge beasts in the movie world that provide the power behind the movies we love, but what we don’t realise is how these are the big success stories that have survived their struggles and have fought to be where they are today.  In a business where the cheapest and quickest results are welcomed it can be a cut-throat world.

As any business this is also one that is constantly evolving at a worldwide level and with audiences who only really start to see the cracks when a stand is made (case in point, Life of Pi and the controversy surrounding the Academy Awards) it is interesting to get an “insider” look at how the industry works.  As VFX becomes more and more important to the world of movies and beyond, it has to become more respected for what it does.

As with a documentary that looks at facts, I do tend to look at Inside VFX and critically look at whether Pierre Grage is somewhat biased in the views he gives in the book, and I will say that there is no counter argument in the book, but should we have one?  What Grage does is offer the facts and figures behind the Hollywood industry which is informative and a very interesting read.

Looking behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and seeing how the money works is eye-opening and helps to explain just why some decisions are made and some aren’t.  With all the politics at play what you come away with from Inside VFX by Pierre Grage is that the world of movies will become more dependent on VFX as the years go by, and it should be more respected and if anything be helped to flourish so that the industry as a whole can continue to improve.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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