VFX Artist Mark Weingartner shares his VFX secrets from working on Christopher Nolan’s films The Dark Knight and Dunkirk.

Cover image via Warner Bros.

Take it from the best in the business: VFX aren’t just about flashy effects and chaotic compositions. The best uses of VFX are in the shots where you notice them the least. In this spotlight by CookeOpticsTV, we get to peek into the mind of VFX Artist Mark Weingartner as he chats about his work with the acclaimed director Christopher Nolan.

You can watch the full video below, but here are some highlights.

The Best VFX are Often the Least Visible

VFX Breakdown: Subtlety and Practical Effects in Christopher Nolan's Films — Weingartner Showreel

It’s very difficult for me to point to my work and show it off, because… If I’ve done my job correctly, and the visual effects house has done their job correctly, you can’t tell I was there.

As Weingartner explains in the video, good VFX artists aren’t looking to draw attention to themselves or their work. It’s their job to help the director and subtly aid the story. You can see examples of this in The Tourist, Moneyball and Nolan’s Inception.

VFX to Service the Story

VFX Breakdown: Subtlety and Practical Effects in Christopher Nolan's Films — Weingartner Showreel 2

There’s an interesting issue of philosophy in VFX, which is constantly evolving. In the case of the pictures Mr. Nolan is making, he really doesn’t want flash visual effects, the VFX aren’t supposed to draw your attention to how cool they are. It’s all in service of the story and wherever we can do something practically we will.

As you can see in the example from Dunkirk, Nolan’s sporadic and simple use of VFX serves the narrative. In the Jackie Chan clip above, you can see how powerful VFX can be — as well as how much depends on the action and what is at stake.

For further information and inspiration, you can watch the full video below, or check out more at CookeOptics.tv.


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