Simon Hansen is a guy you should know about. He worked with Neil Blomkamp to help create the look of District 9 and was most recently the visual effects supervisor on Chronicle. Gizmodo Australia spoke to Hansen yesterday, and he thinks a lot of the special effects-heavy Hollywood movies you love look crap.
"I think audiences are growing tired of overdone, clearly fake environments," Hansen said on a Skype call from Johannesburg yesterday.
"So much, I think, of what's being done in the blockbuster film arena is almost overdone CGI in my view. I'm one of those people that despite the fact that I was born out of CGI, I'm not a fan of it. I would rather see less of it in films."
Hansen said that he instituted a policy when working on Chronicle that saw the team only do a CGI shot if they had to. They would always try and make it look as real as humanly possible first, before digitally inserting a shot.
Of course that policy was also born out of a need for cutting costs. Chronicle only had a small budget — $12 million according to IMDB — and couldn't go around spending millions just on one scene like some movies.
Small budgets don't bother Hansen, though. If anything, he thinks Hollywood should give all films less money to work with.
"I think often a large budget is a bad idea for a film, because it actually allows you to do things without thinking about them and without being pushed to innovate. All the films that I love and that I think are successful in that arena is where the filmmakers have been pushed in some way to innovate and solve problems in a new way," he said.
Chronicle is a documentary-style movie about young guys who discover they have superpowers, and because of the style, Hansen said the two toughest things to shoot in the movie were self-shots where the characters caught themselves in the mirror, and a scene where multiple people are flying about on wires.
In terms of the big effects that were difficult, all of the wirework…was probably the most tricky, with a special case in point being the costly scene…where you see Andrew attack some thugs in the street and throw them around. That was difficult because it presents itself as one shot but it's actually a bunch of different shots seamlessly stitched together. The number of people flying around on wirework means that we had to have three cranes going…and we couldn't lift that number of people…in one go, so the biggest challenge wasn't just doing all the wirework, but it was doing it all over the space of a day with the light changing constantly.
Chronicle comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray today.