Darren Aronofsky: Digital Effects Are Changing the Craft of Filmmaking
Few weeks ago I stumbled upon a DP/30 1h interview of director Darren Aronofsky, cinematographer Matthew Libatique and editor Andrew Weisblum who were then promoting Black Swan few days before the Oscars results.
Aronofsky being one of the current director that has influenced me the most, I was certainly interested to know more about the trio work process, and I was particularly hoping to hear about the editing of “The Nina Acid Trip” sequence, but that didn’t happen. (More on that at the end)
This interview covers many subjects including the pre-production process, how and when each participant enters the process, and how they work on set and in post-production. It is interesting to note that Aronofsky isn’t a big shooting list guy but they still managed to shoot only what they needed (they jokes they never have any bonus scenes for the DVDs release). And after couple of takes, Aronofsky also asks his actors to play different emotions and be free.
The Impact of Digital Filmmaking
Toward the end (see video below) the trio explained how the switch to digital filmmaking allowed them to play with the footage in a new way, extracting and enhancing actors performance and viewers perception using vfx. They used a little bit over 300 special effects for the horror-art movie, for a $16 million budget, which is, once again, considered a low budget compared to the movie’s visual ambition.
Libatique also predicted that the post-production studios will soon face their own revolution; as movies will be made to go straight on to iTunes, Netflix, or cellphones and won’t need top vfx quality, smaller studio will rise and offer competitive solutions, and bigger -and more expensive- studios will have to adapt.
more below on post-production and digital filmmaking:
Shortly before the post-production conversation, Andrew Weisblum was asked whether or not he wanted to change cut when he was watching the movie screened, and here is what he said:
With that in mind, it’s hard not to go back to the Nina Acid Trip and (still) wonder about the making-of this sequence.
A bit of a background here: my third article on mentorless was about the subliminal images in The Nina Acid Trip sequence that I had discovered by chance and I was very pumped up about. I had just started this site and never felt satisfied about the way I presented this sequence. Not only do I find this 50 seconds scene fantastic (and a fantastic gift for whoever finds it) but I also think it is representative of the amount of work at a macro-level that Aronofsky and his gang put into their movies, even if only a handful of people will ever notice it. It is a powerful choice that makes sense at every level story-wise, and I love that they went through the ‘trouble’ of doing it, on such a tight budget, when there is no way you could grasp the extent of the scene watching it in theater.
If you don’t remember what scene I’m talking about, watch the scene below (for educational purposes here):
Some frames pop-up more than other, and you get the sense that something is going on, but that’s pretty much it. Below I selected a series of frames that ‘tell’ Nina story and are part of the sequence. You can also go back to my first article to see a frame by frame video, including the ‘black-not-so-black’ frames put in between:
I hope you enjoyed it, and if you found out an interview or a video talking about editing this scene, let me know!