Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Steven Spielberg Predicts The Future (In 1982)

Film geeks who haven't seen "Room 666" should definitely put it on their must-watch list. It's a documentary, shot at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982, wherein filmmaker Wim Wenders asks a laundry-list of prominent filmmakers in attendance (including Jean Luc Goddard, Steven Spielberg, Werner Herzog, Fassbinder, Antonioni, etc) to briefly opine of the future of movies. The responses range from hopeful to depressing to to strange (first thing out of Herzog's mouth: "I think I'll start by taking off my shoes. You can't answer a question like that with your shoes on.") but surprisingly the guy who really seems to "call it" is the (relative) youngster Spielberg.

For context, at the time of this interview "E.T." had been filmmed but not yet widely-released...



I can't decide if it's more spooky or LESS spooky that this prediction is coming to us courtesy the executive producer of "Transformers."

8 comments:

Paul said...

He IS right but since this is 1982 he's not able to comment of how the advent of CGI would balloon budgets beyond even his wildest dreams at the time. And CGI SFX has been used in movies for a quarter century now and has remained ridiculously expensive. Usually when new technology comes out it is expensive at first and then as the technology becomes more pervasive the cost drops. But this hasn't happened so much with CGI in films. When half the budget for your huindred million dollar plus summer movie goes just to the SFX CGI guys then you know something's out of wack.

Ralphael said...

The man is a fucking genius.

Anonymous said...

@Paul

CGI will never get cheaper no matter what unfathomably fast quantum computing comes down the pipe for one simple reason: every last polygon and texture of original work has to be designed by a human being. Nothing will ever get past the barrier of sheer manhours required for even the most rudimentary special effects. Not like computer graphics are the only money sinkhole in the incredibly wasteful movie industry.

Mads said...

Well he's not arguing that it's a problem, merely that it is what will happen.

He clearly decided not to fight the tendency when he became a producer.

antecedentless said...

@Anon

Human labor will not go away; computer animation will no more replace actors and animators than nail guns replace carpenters; but to suggest that CG artist plot every triangle and place every individual pixel is absurd. If you are even remotely familiar with the tool set artist use to sculpt and animate on a computer you would know that is not true.

Computers are supposed to be tools that empower; but they have become machines that encumber, yes; but I will dare say that a virtual prop shop and studio lot may be less expensive than a real one.

My guess is the (cgi expense) issue is not in the volume of human labor; it is in the render farm. Ray tracing is the bogosort of rendering. The sooner movie studios realize they can get just as good results if not better on traditional rasterizing hardware with ordinary pixel/vertex shaders, the better.

Anonymous said...

Why does he smack his lips so much? And who was the dude not speaking english?

Joe said...

Make films look more expensive than they are? This is basically Robert Rodriguez' whole filmmaking philosophy!

And the biggest reason CGI budgets are so huge is because of time. Studios want post-production done in less than a year, and to be fair, there's a lot of good reasons you don't want 3 or 4 years to pass between principal photography and release. But it means hiring half a dozen or more animation houses and working them to the bone. That gets expensive. Like Anonymous and Antecedentless already suggested, watch the huge list of credits at the end of a typical modern blockbusters, and you'll see hundreds of digital artists and animators.

It's what Rodriguez has been saying for years, and what Roger Corman, Mario Bava and the like have embodied for decades: when you run into problems making your movie, you can throw tonnes of money at it, or you can try something creative.

Anonymous said...

His predictions sound eerily similar to what I think is happening with video games right now.