Going beyond the frontiers
Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor George Murphy says VFX has not only pushed the cinematic limits but also brought in new challenges
Visual effects artistes quite literally, work behind the scene. They create incredible images while trying their best to keep the onscreen story seamless. Imagine a Life of Pi or an Avatar happening without them. Seems almost impossible, huh? However, if you are an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor like George Murphy, you’ll be able to explain why things are the way they are in the world of motion picture today.
For instance, he explains how Life of Pi was a blessing in disguise as it highlighted so many issues. “The movie was groundbreaking — both commercially as well as technically. Fortunately, it also brought to light the challenges one can face while putting it all together. It did extremely well, yes. But at the same time, it was able to put an emphasis on problems artists’ faced in a very healthy manner,” adds the 56-year-old.
Known for his work in films like Jurassic Park, The Matrix: Reloaded & Revolutions and King Kong, Murphy won an Oscar for Forrest Gump back in 1995.
However, conditions were pretty different in the last millennium. “Very few knew what we were up to. We used to have 500 artists working together doing stuff what I now see five seasoned artists can do on their laptops. A lot of this became possible because of the cheaper and better technology available.”
Interestingly, the veteran artiste points out the challenges cinema is facing today. And unsurprisingly enough, most of the films he’s referring to have global ambition and have Hollywood roots. “With the kind of technology we have today, you can do anything. And that brings with it a certain amount of obstacles too.
The filmmakers have to push themselves as they know the importance of surprising their audiences. Besides, the audiences aren’t astonished easily anymore so it’s important to startle them.”
On his maiden visit to India, Murphy is excited about his new position as the CCO (Chief Creative Officer) at Reliance MediaWorks. Although he isn’t very familiar with the dynamics of the Hindi film industry, he sounds optimistic about the prospects of VFX in Bollywood. “There is no escaping it. 3D remains an option but VFX is not just about big banners. Even smaller budget films want to elaborate their storytelling and use effects to their advantage. Even Indian films are confidently following the line,” states the Stanley Kubrick fan.
As far as accolades that follow his repertoire are concerned, Murphy remains humble — not without a reason though. “Unlike a director or an actor or a cinematographer, ours isn’t an individual glory. It’s more of a team effort and that’s also the reason why you may know others’ names but you’ll miss ours on the credit roll,” smiles the Burbank (California)-bound gentleman.