This week, New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles were treated to a Q&A with visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel following a screening of Godzilla. Rygiel won three Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His excellent work has also contributed to other feature films such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fast and the Furious, and Night at the Museum. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.
One of the things that Rygiel touched on was using real imagery alongside digital effects. “We always tried to get something in the shot,” said Rygiel. “My trick is to always try to get something real In the shot…it’s a mix. I’m always trying to get the director to shoot more, not less.”
He stressed the importance of keeping parts real in order to keep it feeling real.
Rygiel also advised students that when trying to get hired, they should let their work speak for itself. “What you mostly get hired on is your portfolio,” he added.
One of our NYFA students asked for advice on how to act for effects, such as motion capture or with green screens. Rygiel reassured the student, saying, “Just shoot it. Act like you normally would—we’ll never replace actors. I could never create whole scenes [without actors].”
Finally, he talked to the students about the importance of a balance between sticking to the plan for shooting and rolling with changes. He said that costs can go up if you change from what was already planned but, “don’t be a complete stickler to the pre-vis. There are things that happen. It just might be a better shot—always go with the better shot.”