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The many faces of digital technology
Birth, life (and death?) of the profession of visual effects supervisor in France

Réjane Hamus-Vallée et Caroline Renouard

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  • 1 On this specific topic, see Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, « Du visual effects supervis (...)

1As digital tools have brought fundamental changes to many areas of filmmaking (e.g., color grading, editing or shooting), they have also created “new” job descriptions, often completely reconfiguring tasks traditionally assigned to other individuals, such as Post-Production Managers or Visual Effects Supervisors. In France, the Visual Effects Supervisor, unlike his American counterpart1, has struggled to establish a toehold in feature film productions.

  • 2 See, e.g., Scott Ross, “It Has Gotten Worse” September 18, 2014, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ (...)

2This article focuses on the key role of the Visual Effects Supervisor since the 1980s, in accordance with French models, at the crossroads of the digital technologies revolution. New digital tools led to the standardization of the profession of Visual Effects Supervisor at the turn of the 21st century, first in the United States and then in France. While the Visual Effects Supervisor, through the digitalization of special effects technology, is more and more present in French movie credits, his role and position in movie production workflow are considerably different from his Hollywood cousin.The trade is well known in British and American circles, but the Gallic iteration not so much2. Indeed, it is because they do not (yet) completely adhere to the Anglo-Saxon model that the specifics of the French job description are poorly known. Divergences exist between these two approaches to the job regarding both their relationship with the production and with the artistic and technical crew, and have ever since the emergence of the job’s differences on either side of the Atlantic, especially as regards the development of special effects departments in 1930s Hollywood studios.

  • 3 Réjane Hamus-Vallée, Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, Paris, Eyrol (...)
  • 4 Paris Images Digital Summit (PIDS) is an annual event dedicated to Digital Creation launched by the (...)
  • 5 “Special Effects: Steal the Scene! The exhibition”, October 17, 2017, to August 26, 2018, Cité des (...)

3We will see how the practice of the profession, between the 1980s and 2010, was established in contexts of creation and complex technological innovations. Naturally, this study is based mainly on unpublished interviews with Supervisors (or partially published in some of our previous studies3). French Supervisors are craftsmen who work very discreetly while making an enormous contribution to the manufacture of French cinema. Their views about their practice, about cinema and digital tools, little emphasized until the years 2010, have gained new consideration in recent years, thanks in particular to PIDS4 or the special effects exhibition at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris5. It is in the interest of continuing to highlight their work and fascinating history, since the development of the computer tools in France, that we chose to write this paper.

4From the 1980s to the 2010s, how did Visual Effects Supervisors experience the steady increase in new software and workstations? How did these tools contribute to a better understanding and increased visibility of visual effects professions? How precisely do technical developments force supervisors to constantly adapt and innovate?

  • 6 Réjane Hamus-Vallée et Caroline Renouard, Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Les effets spé (...)
  • 7 Christian Guillon, "L’Œil du superviseur", in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux. Crevez l (...)

5Before examining the issues inherent to the transformations encountered in each decade since 1980 – each developed in a dedicated chapter – our first two chapters lay the necessary groundwork concerning the specificities of the French visual effects purpose and, therefore, the Visual Effects Supervisor model involved. It is important to demonstrate the main issue of the complex relationship that has always pertained between this craftsmanship and digital technologies, but also the essential elements distinguishing the French approach to the Anglo-Saxon one. The role and involvement of the effects are different and that is symptomatic of a specific trend to the French cinema – for a century or more, special effects in most French movies have been something slightly shameful, something best hidden or, at the least, made invisible6. According to Christian Guillon, certainly the most iconic and veteran French Supervisor, “The role and the very term ‘Visual Effects Supervisor’ come from the increasing use of computers in special effects. In France in the 1970s, the culture of special effects was mostly about discreet, even imperceptible effects. The Supervisor and his on-set special effects colleagues had to struggle at times to win and intervene as early as possible in a film production, in order to achieve a better result (…) At this same time, more and more motion sequences require the use of advanced [optical] special effects—but mum’s the word! The word ‘trucage’ [French for “trick shot”] sounded like deception. Cinema is about life, not technology. We were makers of ‘false images,’ a necessary and shameful evil, the too visible part of a cinema comprised of a set of artifices. In reality, we liked this form of clandestinity well enough.”7

6In a predominantly naturalistic aesthetic favored by filmmakers, how have visual effects made themselves desirable, and how have Supervisors found their place in the collective creation?

The Paradox of French Effects - Between Excellence and Invisibility

  • 8 Christopher Cram, “Digital Cinema: The Role of the Visual Effects Supervisor”, Film History, Volume (...)
  • 9 From a professional point of view, the special effects include the manipulations made on the shooti (...)

7The role of Visual Effects Supervisor is now generally standardized, and most US and French contemporary films have one. Regardless of the country, the primary objective of these professionals remains the same: the creation of “visual effects” (VFX), i.e., providing images that, because of practical, economic or ethical limits, cannot be obtained directly on a set, through the use of digital technologies, “in such a way that the different ‘looks’ of each can be made homogeneous.”8 The job, however, overlaps with differing tasks and prerogatives on either side of the Atlantic, especially because the visual effects environment is fundamentally different. Most French VFX supervisors work for one VFX studio (Internal Supervisor) and not for one film company or one studio (External, General or Senior Supervisor). Most French VFX studios are not specialized in specific kinds of digital effects: on the contrary, they are quite versatile and are generally hired to be the sole provider of all VFX shots in a movie. Thus, it is rare in France for VFX studios to work together on the same project and divide up the delivery of complete shots. In the US model, Supervisors are hired by the studios, divide the various tasks among different visual effects companies, coordinating them in close contact with the Internal Supervisors of each company working only on the shots assigned to them. These varying hierarchical models implicate supervisors differently within a given project. In the Hollywood model, supervisors are associated with the production crew; in France, they are allied with the creative side (along with other artistic crew managers like the DP and the set designer) and post-production. Despite this, the tasks are quite similar. Indeed, at the highest-level, the French supervisor—as in the US supervisor model—may participate in the entire production of a film. They may thus take part in preparation, working side-by-side with the director, and in collaboration with the production and crew, establishing initial cost estimates and proposing the best economic-technical-artistic solutions. They may, for example, find points of balance with the special effects (SFX) crew9, but also with the DP, the set designer (how high must the set location, mock-up or miniature be built, then extended in CGI?), wardrobe, the tech crew, etc. The supervisor can attend the shooting, in order to check that all the elements necessary for planned visual effects are shot and to answer any questions as to the possibility of adding effects, in order to possibly save time and/or money on the set (countering the constant refrain of “We’ll see about that in post-prod.”).

8Finally, in post-production, VFX Supervisors “translate” the director’s vision into technical terms for the graphic artists, report on the progress of the fabrication of sequences, and ensure the homogeneity of the final images (by working with the film’s editor and colorist), all without unnecessarily taxing the film’s budget. Inside the VFX studios, VFX Supervisors must be able to optimize schedules of graphic artists and leads (in-house employees or hired especially for the film), sometimes “booking” them well in advance, according to each one’s talents and specializations. Although, as of the beginning of the 21st century, the majority of companies gave up their in-house proprietary software in favor of, among others, Maya and Nuke, the Supervisor and his team are also tied to the technological tools of the VFX house to which they belong. That attachment has, for better or worse, forced the supervisor’s hand in his technological and creative choices.

9The profession originated in the field of advertising, along with computer graphics and special effects, three legacies which may seem incompatible with the specificities of the French film “exception,” namely, the choice of a particular subsidy system both for production and for distribution of films, giving rise to a specific organization of the profession and the distinguishing features of its films (with dominant genres in France and an activity predominated by auteurs). The industry’s natural hostility toward outsiders has not always made it possible to welcome the Visual Effects Supervisor into the French film system in a positive and benevolent way. Nevertheless, “digital technology” and its evolution have gradually transformed the profession, moving from a form of generalized handiwork to a relative standardization of practices.

The French VFX (Non) Industry, Before the Computer

10The role of VFX Supervisor in France is barely thirty years old, dating from the standardization of digital practices, but their skills and tasks existed before the beginnings of digital images. From a historical point of view, the practice of special effects supervision has existed since the birth of cinema itself, both in France and the United States—and even longer than that (magic theater, trick photography…).

11After an artisanal phase common to France and the United States, including the trick films developed by Georges Méliès at the end of the 1910s, the place of innovators in the field of special effects – who had not yet appointed supervisors - becomes very different from the 1920s onward, with the two countries adopting opposite models. In the United States, the head of the department is attached to a studio; in France, the effects technician is often freelance, or owns his own company.

  • 10 Richard Rickitt, Special Effects, The History and the Technique, Billboard Books, 2000, p. 24-25.

12Since the 1920s, France has developed a strong preference for films with realistic stories and, generally speaking, there is no interest in spectacular effects which would require an industrial organization of the activity. There lacks the considerable respect for these effects within the studios, for “their ability to save time and money as their power to create the fantastic or the seemingly impossible”10 as in Hollywood.

13So French special effects have never become a full-fledged aspect of moviemaking, as it did in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, however, the history of French cinema is rife with low-budget but effective special effects (including models and matte painting but also optical effects). Still, special effects technicians rarely got any notice, except from some DPs or set designers with whom they worked. Accordingly, most of the special effects present in French films since the 1920s are imperceptible, that is, they are effects that cannot be seen as such on the screen. The sets are artificially extended without the viewer guessing and these discreet effects are linked to the dominant narratives of French cinema.

14French special effects remained squarely in the realm of craftsmanship until the 1990s, with one or a few professionals called upon for a given film, most often under the guidance of the set designer or the DP, sometimes with a laboratory in the case of captioning and transition effects. At times, a Cameraman or set decorator would indulge in some basic trickery, only rarely launching projects which called for more complex effects. Regardless, the method was always artisanal. In general, we can only highlight the “DIY” nature of special effects in pre-digital French cinema—that’s the only kind there were.

  • 11 Quoted from Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le ciném (...)

15As Visual Effects Supervisor Christian Guillon explains, just prior to the advent of the computer, “special effects were used relatively little in French films. There were two or three companies like Eurocitel, Eurotitre that achieved basic captioning and cross-fade, fade-out, titling, split screens… All that was standardized, but there were relatively few sophisticated effects.”11

16In short, effects artists and technicians have been rare but constant in French cinematography, while the role of supervisor is nonexistent as such until the end of the 1980s. This configuration depends to a large extent on the specificities of French cinema, both for its favorite genres and its organization of work, which contrast sharply with Hollywood modes of production.

The 1980s: the Marriage of the Best and the Worst?

  • 12 Newell's 1975 teapot for example, see Arnaud Devillard, "Une théière aux origines de la modélisatio (...)

17Images created entirely by computer have existed since the late 1960s12 and their introduction into film begins on the Hollywood production side with a few digitally generated images in Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973). Shots entirely created in computer graphics followed, as in Looker (Michael Crichton, 1981) or Tron (Steven Lisberger, 1982). But these types of effects, most striking in the common historiography between computer graphics and cinema, are only one facet of what digital technology can bring to the film field. Beginning in those years, and up until the 2000s, the word “digital” in fact remained a vague appellation, referring to very different realities.

  • 13 For more information, see Pierre Hénon, Une histoire française de l’animation numérique, Paris, ENS (...)
  • 14 Cécile Welker, “La visibilité des images de synthèse françaises à la télévision : des images de la (...)
  • 15 See Laurent Jullier and Cécile Welker, Les images de synthèse au cinéma, Paris, Armand Colin, "Focu (...)

18French digital effects are mainly used for advertising, video clips or short films13 broadcast on television14, where the question of film does not arise. Driven by the “Image Research” Plan initiated under François Mitterrand in 198215, the first computer graphic designers dove into the world of computer-generated images without initially targeting the film industry. Early digital tools, such as the Quantel Paintbox or the ARRI, allowed those who mastered them to act as producer, director (for advertising, TV, cinema), motion graphics artist, and pioneer in digital special effects. A rare breed, they trained one another, moved from one company to the next, joined forces to create new ones.

  • 16 Société Générale d’Impression TEChnique.

19Between 1983 and 1990, several million francs in grant money was made available to boost new technologies and new industries. The SOGITEC16 company, specializing in the creation of flight simulators for the aircraft manufacturer Dassault since 1977, decided to expand its activity and participate in the production of France’s first computer-generated imagery. By 1983, a short film entitled Maison Vole, by André Martin and Philippe Quéau (broadcast on Antenne 2 and co-produced with the Institut National Audiovisuel) and advertising (for a Sharp photocopier) had made a good impression. Specialized schools were developing, trades were being invented, and a new generation of professionals arrived. Young companies sprouted and quickly expanded in this emerging sector - Excalibur in 1982, Duran in 1983, BUF in 1984, Mikros Image in 1985. Mac Guff Ligne, which was also founded in 1985, by 1987 had produced La Vie des bêtes (Animals), broadcast by Canal Plus, the world’s first television series entirely in computer-generated images (CGI), using Imagix3D software. Nicknamed “new images,” they began to seep into the graphic design of television channels, starting with Canal Plus (the “new images” channel) and had their own International Forum of New Images, beginning in 1981, renamed IMAGINA in 1986. Video clips, advertising and TV shows allowed for testing of prototypes, procedures and machines, at a time when the few artists worked on dedicated graphics stations and when software was generally developed internally by each company.

  • 17 Regarding the history of SOGITEC and the development of company computer equipment (software and gr (...)

20It was not until 1987 that Jérôme Diamant-Berger’s L’Unique, the first French feature film with CGI, was released. A CGI cloud of polyhedral enveloped the female lead, who was shot in live action, in order to visually represent human cloning. The CGI was created by SOGITEC, then France’s leading manufacturer in digital animation (especially for advertising)17. The visual effects were supervised by Christian Guillon, a pioneer of digital effects and an advertising veteran, who remembers there were:

  • 18 Quoted from an unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, Paris, June 19, 2014. Our translation.

…around 90% traditional optical effects in this film and only a few digitally tricked shots. There was no scanner, only very basic imagers which were black and white televisions with light traps around them on which images were thrown [in a second phase]. To integrate the few 3D animation elements into the film footage, we shot the images by filming the TV screen with a 35 mm camera, and then we embedded these images into the film by optical trickery using an optical printer.18

  • 19 Thierry Cazals, “Le monde comme simulacre et programmation”, Cahiers du cinéma n° 399, septembre 19 (...)

21This film, as well as Pierre-William Glenn’s Terminus (1987), which came out a few months later and which made a similar technological attempt, met with extremely virulent critics. According to Thierry Cazals’s diatribe in the Cahiers du Cinéma, “In both cases, the grafting of CGI is equivalent to a kind of cancer, a perversion, cell after cell, shot after shot, of the fabric of the entire film. (…) Obviously, these synthetic fictions have in fact only one ‘key.’ They feature face-to-face live action cinema with computer animation. They unwittingly problematize a state of crisis, resulting from the collision of image sources: encoded images/images sculpted in light…19

  • 20 Christian Guillon, from “Un métier d’avenir ? Entretien avec Christian Guillon, pionnier de la supe (...)

22This confrontation of live action cinema vs. computer animation experienced, for Cazals, in the content of the films, also took place behind the scenes. The marriage of the film and digital worlds is fraught: they share neither a common vocabulary nor a common career path. At first, even their objectives appear to be at odds. Following this initial experience with L’Unique, Christian Guillon was among the most active in reconciling the two worlds. “It was an encounter with a universe that I thought was the future,” says Guillon, “and I set out to share it in my milieu, which was cinema. Obviously, it was complicated, because people in the film industry put up a lot of resistance, but there was a decade of some kind of activism for digital in film. The idea was, ‘Let’s take digital or digital will take us.’ (…) It was an interesting time, when I found myself at the border between the world of film and the world of computer graphics and I helped those two worlds come together20.”

  • 21 Round table “Numériques et cinéma : les effets spéciaux”, in 10 Ans de rencontres Art et Techniques (...)

23As Antoine Simkine, director of Duboi, one of the largest French visual effects companies at the time, explained in 2000: “Differences between various digital processes amount to a question of quantity and finesse. On the one hand, we have the digital video that we find everywhere, the DV. It’s low resolution, the image has very few pixels and poor color depth. On the other hand, there is a high resolution in the number of pixels. When we manipulate images to make a composite, we try to get all the information on the film to achieve the seamless integration of computer-generated images with film footage of real scenes.21

24The gap in quality between digital and analog imagery is the main problem faced by “craftspeople,” who do not yet call themselves “supervisors,” in this first period. But right from the start, their primary responsibility was to take digital and analog composite images and create a consistent “look,” to integrate different pieces of effects work into a wider whole with a substantial style. They had to first digitize the 35 mm film, then work the shots on a computer, then return the digitally modified or re-created elements to 35 mm. Needless to say, technologies in the 1990s made such manipulation complex.

1990s: The Invention of a Technique and a Trade

  • 22 Tom Sito, interview with Keith Ingham, Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation, MIT Pres (...)

25Hybridization is complex, but it was also at the technical heart of these developments in the 1990s. Around 1990, ambitious projects abounded, but ultimately aborted. One example: in 1991, Moebius released a first teaser for Starwatcher, which was slated to be the first full-length feature film for cinema mixing “traditional computer animation and real-time digital animation based on proprietary software developed by [VideoSystem], 16 years ahead of Avatar22.” But the death of the producer and a lack of funds spelled the project’s demise.

26Those years are therefore best characterized as a period of trial and error, and one of technical fears: though filmmakers propose new ideas and scenarios, producers doubt they are feasible within the framework of French film budgets.

  • 23 Unpublished interview with Eve Ramboz, 2014. Our translation.

27All the effects films made in France at that time mixed “traditional” optical effects with computer-generated images: Les 1001 Nuits (Philippe de Broca, 1990), Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway, 1991), Siméon (Euzhan Palcy, 1992). These films also called for international collaboration because, as another pioneer of the 1990s, Eve Ramboz, recalls: “In 1993, there were many laboratories in London because of economic agreements between the United States and Great Britain on the establishment of digital studios. In France at that time, there was no high-quality digital laboratory, so all the scans were done in London and returned to France. It was laborious, but we had the finest images.”23

  • 24 Unpublished interview with Alain Carsoux, 2014. Our translation.
  • 25 Unpublished interview with Philippe Sonrier, 2014. Our translation.

28Early Visual Effects Supervisors had to tinker with their tools in order to turn out their images. The effects industry created in the mid-1980s (featuring VFX companies such as BUF, Ex Machina, Mac Guff Ligne, Mikros, Duboi…) embarked upon a technological race, each VFX studio developing its own software and jealously guarding its secrets, making it difficult for graphic designers or supervisors to move from one studio to another. As Alain Carsoux, formerly of Duboi (a company with its own in-house software called “Dutruc”), explains, “Everyone started like that because [standard] software didn’t exist.”24 According to Philippe Sonrier of Mac Guff Ligne, “Everyone had their own little tools. (…) But it was hard, especially in advertising, where we were asked for photorealism. What we couldn’t do back then in two months, we can do now in two days…25

  • 26 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.
  • 27 Unpublished interview with Alain Carsoux, op. cit.

29Working under those constraints, in order to successfully produce the desired images, the Visual Effects Supervisor had to regularly restrict staging or required fixed shots, because camera movement would make it too complex to manage the extensively reworked images in post-production. “It’s true that at the beginning, psychologically, when we arrived on a set, we were seen as Martians,” explains Christian Guillon. “It wasn’t always easy.26” Alain Carsoux concurs: “On the set, we are finally starting to be known. But before, we were synonymous with overtime, though the extra hours were paid work…27

  • 28 For more general studies of the changes brought about by digital, see Philippe Marion and André Gau (...)
  • 29 See, among others, Anne Baudry, “Les mains fragiles, Journal de bord d’une monteuse”, Cahiers du ci (...)
  • 30 “Les monteurs associés” association, created in 2001, http://www.monteursassocies.com.
  • 31 “And if we can already make a clone of such a famous actor today, that we will perform in his place (...)
  • 32 The title of the article in Cahiers de la cinémathèque n° 65, December 1996, p. 95-104.
  • 33 David Danesi, quoted by Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels p (...)

30The wariness of supervisors also came from the new tools they imposed, at a time when the entire film field was completely shaken up by digital technology28. Editors were confronted with the new “virtual editing” and the clash of cultures was violent. News of that clash spread quickly in the specialized press29 and brought about the creation of a new professional association30. Critics and theorists worried what digital technology would do to cinema, at the time of its first centennial. Baudrillard believed that digital technology would commit the “perfect crime” by cloning actors31, even as Alain Montesse wondered if “new technologies [would] kill cinema32,” among other things. A major user of the computer, the supervisor accidentally became both the source and the target of these different anxieties. As a beginner, David Danesi remembers that when he showed up on the set for the first time as a supervisor, “Cinematographers wouldn’t look at me because they didn’t like the green backgrounds, production designers thought they would soon be unemployed because sets would become all digital, and actors thought they were making one of their last films…33”.

  • 34 That same year Jurassic Park was released, which will have the same effect on the imagination of Ho (...)

31But improvised tools, technical difficulties and resistance to what they represent did not prevent the first successes from leaving a lasting mark on the visual effects’ scene. The comedy Les Visiteurs (Jean-Marie Poiré, 1993) and its various digital effects demonstrated the technological, economic and aesthetic viability of these images in a non-SF genre. (The box office proved the point – almost 14 million movie tickets sold). For the first time in a popular French film, stunning comical and absurd situations were made possible through morphing, duplicating, and warping effects…34 Yet one of the major technological innovations of the film went largely unnoticed. Certain set locations were created with digital matte painting by the French matte painter Jean-Marie Vivès. He traded in his brushes for the digital workstation he would never leave again. Against the advice of his entire professional entourage, in 1991, he invested 250,000 francs to acquire the first equipment, tipping French matte painting into the digital age.

32The film’s closing credits cite Vivès for “Digital matte paintings,” Duboi for “Digital special effects” and BUF for “3D morphing”—but no name for the “supervisor.”

  • 35 The passage from the end credits to the opening credits is also symbolic of the increase in attenti (...)

33Two years later, effects seen in La Cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1995), such as green smoke and the multiplication of a single actor were created by Pitof, cited in the opening credits for “Digital Special Effects (effets spéciaux numériques)”. Most notably, a flea was entirely simulated in photorealistic CGI (“images de synthèse”, as they were called in the opening credits) for this film by Pierre Buffin, bringing an international reputation to the BUF studio35.

  • 36 “Pierre Buffin, « Les effets spéciaux sont un peu les éboueurs du cinéma », 20 minutes, November 16 (...)
  • 37 Ibid.
  • 38 Quoted by Guillaume Tion, “Effets spéciaux : Pierre Buffin, la grande illusion”, Libération, April (...)

34If Les Visiteurs had merely allowed BUF “to get a loan to buy computers36,” La Cité des enfants perdus netted it a certain international renown. “From then on,” BUF founder Pierre Buffin remembers, “all American studios were interested in us. At the time, a dozen companies like ours existed, including ILM, George Lucas’ company.”37 According to Buffin, "In the 1990s, there were only ten of us in the world. I didn’t have to lift a finger – projects just sprang up all by themselves38.”

  • 39 Claude Huriet, Rapport d’information n° 169 — Images de synthèses et monde virtuel. Techniques et e (...)
  • 40 Bayon, “Se forger des nerfs en acier trempé”, Libération, November 12, 1997, http://next.liberation (...)

35French companies were attractive to American productions because, according to a December 11, 1997 report by the French Senate, “Not being able to satisfy the demand, some special effects are subcontracted in Europe, notably in France, where the quality of the artists (designers) is recognized (especially firms like Ex-Machina, Mac Guff Line and BUF Compagnie, with more than half their revenues originating from abroad)39”. While BUF worked on big Hollywood productions (Fight Club, Panic Room, Batman and Robin, Matrix, etc.), designing some innovative and remarkable effects, two French films, made possible by international co-productions in 1997, Alien IV (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) and The Fifth Element (Luc Besson), were standouts. While Alien IV is essentially a Hollywood film with a (mainly) French production and VFX, The Fifth Element is a French film with Hollywood VFX, made by Digital Domain. The French VFX company Duboi created the effects for the former, using largely their same roster of artists on the Jeunet, such as matte painter Jean-Marie Vivès. The integration of French artists into Hollywood teams served to highlight the differences between the French and Hollywood VFX industries in the late 1990s. Vivès worked as a craftsman, creating matte shots alone, which seemed totally inconceivable to executives at Fox. Worried about this peculiarity, they brought their concerns to Jean-Pierre Jeunet. When asked to describe his experience working on Alien IV, Jeunet described how he divided his time during the seven-month-long post-production period: “…editing, visual effects with the guys from Duboi, meetings with the musician [John Frizelli], endless meetings with the computer graphics company, standing up to the imbecility of the visual effects producer40.”

36Luc Besson’s use of a Hollywood VFX company for The Fifth Element was a departure for him – for the more recent features in his filmography (up until the 2010’s), he primarily called upon BUF, sometimes Duboi.

37These two films, produced in full digital revolution, use a mix of techniques – miniatures, animatronics and CGI fit together, giving audiences a spectacular hybrid universe, allying craft and industry.

  • 41 See André Gaudreault, Philippe Marion, La fin du cinéma? Un média en crise à l’ère du numérique, o (...)

38Yet at the end of the decade, the bridgehead made by French films abroad was abruptly halted in its rise because of “Tax Rebates,” government support for VFX and post-production. Foreign producers relocated projects in order to benefit from these tax credits, choosing a French company for specific artistic needs. The French film market became, for a time, the main outlet for French VFX companies. But there were stark differences between the U.S. and French markets, both in terms of quantity and the nature of the work. The VFX market was exploding in the United States, but the industry in France was still doing everything to hide the use of VFX in French films, where digital had a bad reputation, still mostly seen as a “threat” by directors, producers, actors, DPs, set designers, editors, but also laboratories. The question that disrupted the French film industry was: “Will new technologies kill the cinema?” This idea of the death of cinema is not new. It comes back regularly, with each technological transformation41. But this new problem was a fundamental challenge to the paradigm of analog cinema and underscores the ultimate fears of that part of the profession which was reluctant to explore new possibilities.

The 2000s: the Maturation of the Profession—and the Spread of the Tools

  • 42 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

39In the early 1990s, there were fewer than ten effects supervisors working in the French feature film sector. Chief among them were Pitof, Christian Guillon, Eve Ramboz and Frédéric Moreau, who together created a profession, the proper appellation for which did not emerge until the end of the decade. Pitof was “Director of Visual Effects” for Claude Zidi’s Astérix et Obélix contre César in 1999, but it is the term “Supervisor” which will prevail in the following decade, to Christian Guillon’s great regret. “At one point, I thought it would be more appropriate to call myself a Director of Special Effects, but since the term ‘Supervisor’ already existed in the United States, it took root in France as well. ‘Director’ is closer to the reality of our profession, as in Director of Photography42.”

40By the beginning of the 2000s, increasing digitalization in film and broadcasting was encouraging a more widespread use of visual effects. Indeed, the main difficulty of the initial period—scanning and returning digital images to 35 mm film—was receding, on the one hand because of the advent of digital devices to facilitate reintegration of digital images on film, but also and especially because of the rise of high-definition digital images.

  • 43 Unpublished interview with David Danesi, 2014. Our translation.

41Tighter deadlines and an exponential rise in the number of shots calling for digital manipulation urged the profession toward standardization. As the era of the craftsman pioneer came to a close, the supervisor took his place, first undoubtedly in post-production and filming, then gradually in terms of the film’s preparation. At the same time, the job was created as such, as David Danesi attests: “When I started as supervisor, the profession was still entirely being created, though there were already ‘models’: Christian Guillon, Eve Ramboz, Pitof had already done it, had already made their mark on the sector. We came after that first period43.”

42Under the guidance of the supervisor, a team of graphic designers became more and more specialized. The old organization, where pioneers supervised teams while developing new tools and drawing up shots themselves, became scarce. A hierarchy was established for positions: Working under the supervisor were 2D and 3D leads… and under them were the graphic designers specializing in compositing, animation, matte painting, etc.

43The beginning of the 21st century opened what seemed to be new horizons for French visual effects. The year 2001 marked a turning point in the use of digital techniques in French films. Several ambitious projects with very “French” topics took direct aim at the Hollywood competition as they explored the aesthetic, narrative and poetic potential of visual effects. Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) as well as four “genre” films (history and fantasy) as Belphégor Le Fantôme du Louvre (Jean-Paul Salomé), Le Pacte des loups (Christophe Gans), Vidocq (Pitof) and Le Petit Poucet (Olivier Dahan).

  • 44 Arthur Limiñana, “J’ai interviewé le Français qui a réalisé Vidocq”, Vice, September 7, 2015, https (...)

44Released in September 2001, Vidocq, directed by former Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, was the first film shot in high definition, preceding episode 2 of George Lucas’s Star Wars (Attack of the Clones) in 2002. In 2015, when asked to explain this risky choice, director Pitof explained, “To be honest, making a historical movie in costumes was really not something I was into. We had to dust off the genre, inject something new. I knew Sony was developing a high-definition camera. I went to see them and, although it was only a prototype, they agreed to let us use it for our film. I remember that on the side of the machine there was a plate with the serial number: 0001. So we really had the first HD camera, which, of course, was the source of a lot of trouble. The video feedback didn’t work because the camera overheated every three hours. It was a piece of shit—but we knew we were doing something new.”44

  • 45 Sophie Grassin et Eric Libiot, “La revanche du film de genre”, L’Express, November 23, 2000, http:/ (...)

45To all appearances, 2001 was a transition year for the movie business. Everything was in flux. The craft of visuals threw off its cloak of imperceptibility and developed a more visible and spectacular range of activity, but also an industrialized one, with funding up to the challenges. The expectations around the release of these films reveal the uproar in the industry surrounding visually ambitious projects and highlighting the innovation of digital manipulation. In short, 2001 was a make-or-break year. “The future of French genre cinema depends on success,” wrote Sophie Grassin and Eric Libiot. “If Le Pacte des loups, Vidocq and Le Petit Poucet are box office hits, the phenomenon will grow. Otherwise, the industry will bury it in a hurry. Or curb its bluster.45” The Grassin-Lubiot review is prescient, because on their release, these films de genre were considered financial flops, and the profession as a whole was nudged toward abandoning the field of spectacular effects and genre cinema, investing in even less “perceptible” effects and techniques such as digital color grading.

  • 46 Unpublished interview with Hugues Namur, 2014. Our translation.

46After 2001, successful films with digital effects were mainly comedies—conforming with habits formed while establishing effects in French cinema. The genre also served as a proving ground, and finally the affirmation of digitization of films, accelerated by the emergence of digital color grading. In 2002, the color grading of Alain Chabat’s Astérix et Obélix: mission Cléopâtre (2002) took eight weeks, far longer than the two-week average usually devoted to this practice at the time. The colorist Didier Le Fouest reworked the colors of costumes and characters, trying to find hues closer to those of the original comic strip. Using photochemical color grading, Alain Chabat’s aesthetic vision for the project would have been impossible to achieve. Of course, to access the potential promised by digital color grading, one must first scan the entire film, making precise areas of the image available for reworking. Photochemical processing allows only for the color grading of the entire image. As Hugues Namur from Mikros Image explains, “Before, we only scanned shots that were highly deserving of being faked. As soon as we started color grading films digitally, the question no longer arose – the whole film had to be scanned in any case46.”

  • 47 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

47This was the beginning of an era of widespread retouching, where the slightest circles under an actor’s eyes or the reflection of the crew in a background window became potentially erasable. The process got easier and faster as the decade wore on. For Christian Guillon, “When we were hybrids, part of our work consisted of managing the differences between the two media, harmonizing, inserting into 35 mm film… The last time I made an analog film was in 2010. Instead of completing an item and delivering it within the hour as we do today, it took 48 or 36 hours, because we needed a positive and a negative. And there is a procedure to follow to make sure that the new negative looks like the original. By that time, people were no longer used to it and so they didn’t understand why it took three days to deliver a shot after it was completed. Still, we needed to be sure it was technically correct. At a certain point, it’s not a matter of habit. No one could stand the wait times we had when we were still using 35 mm film47.”

48When movies were shot on film, it was necessary to first digitize (by scanning) the scenes where VFX had to be added, then re-register them on film once the work was done (kinescope). Therefore, the cost of each shot using VFX was doubled: there was the cost of the effect itself and that of the digitization/transfer. Moreover, this film/digital/film transfer was not neutral, and resulted in a small but real loss of quality, between the composite shot and the non-composite shot. When the shot is 100% digital, only the need for VFX remains, and the extra scanning cost disappears along with the defects. On the other hand, digital favors bad habits in shooting and editing films, as expressed by two oft-repeated refrains: “We’ll see about that in post-prod,” and “We can retouch everything.” The catch-all phrases, unfortunately, reflect no evaluation of what goes into the creation of the effects, and therefore don’t account for their cost in a budget which can no longer be modified. Still, more and more often, digitization of film has facilitated touch-ups which used to be too complex or expensive – embellishing a sky or an unsightly wall, removal of dark circles or skin imperfections, smoothing a camera movement, repairing a continuity error, erasing a crew member from the corner of a frame, etc. All these changes have become practical, whereas in analog they would have significant budgetary consequences.

49Knowledge of software and extraordinary computer capabilities vary widely among production teams, who imagine, often mistakenly, that it is possible to completely retake a shot, even an entire sequence, in post-production. For certain directors and producers, digital retouching is seen as a magic wand, solving any problem and correcting any shooting errors. The slightest inconvenience in filming becomes a problem relegated to post-production. The Visual Effects Supervisor, not always present for the entire shoot, discovers too late that cables and unintended TV antennae need to be erased, straining the budget.

50Adjustments are always possible in post-production, but this work has its own cost, which is something many Production Managers or Directors fail to properly manage. Digital effects companies often wind up losing money on French feature films (and need to out to shore up their ailing bank accounts through post-production of commercials).

51The “professionalization” of teams also involved dedicated professional training, beginning mostly around the start of the 21st century: the Ecole Georges Méliès (Orly) opened in 1999, the TRUCIS master’s degree of the University of Valenciennes was offered in 2003, and the specialized ArtFX (Montpellier) school was founded in 2004… The new training courses were coincided with the beginnings of software standardization.

  • 48 Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2013, p. 56.
  • 49 “In the middle 1990s, Flame together with the SGI workstation cost $450,000; an Inferno system cost (...)

52At the end of the 2000s, as the performance of personal computers improved, companies specialized in video editing, graphic effects, compositing and color grading systems “started to offer versions of [their] programs for PC, Mac, and Linux.”48 There was, at the time, very little commercial software for sale. The highest-end graphics workstations with proprietary hardware (such as the Flame and Inferno systems with the Silicon Graphics SGI workstation) were very expensive49. Many studios at the time developed their own tools. This is the case in France with BUF, Duboi or Mac Guff Line and abroad with Pixar, DreamWorks or Sony.

53Supervisors and artists were therefore often trained in-house, and remained firmly anchored in the internal logic of the tools process (pipeline, workflow) specific to each VFX studio. For example, having trained on Dutruc, the proprietary digital editing and compositing software of the VFX Duboi house, it was difficult to then jump to a competitor who had his own, totally different, homemade tools. During the 1990s and early 2000s, VFX companies put a lot of emphasis on research and development. The high cost of developing software and equipment in the early years meant these pioneering visual effects studios had very high start-up costs in the 1980s and early 1990s, creating debt that was difficult to absorb. Costs have been significantly reduced for structures started at the turn of the 21st century, thanks to commercial software developments.

  • 50 Jean Gaillard, Report to the CNC on “The Manufacture of Digital Special Effects in France. Sector O (...)
  • 51 Pierre Lelièvre, “Définition du Rôle de TD, Technical Director au sein des studios de fabrication d (...)
  • 52 First developed in 1993 by the VFX studio Digital Domain for use in-house, then took over developme (...)

54VFX requires continuous development of tools, with both short- and long-term, specific and immediate needs, aimed at improving the tools themselves, on a proprietary basis and/or complementary to the commercial system50. Since the mid-2000s, many VFX houses have had to give up proprietary software, trading it in for commercial software published by large companies. The most iconic of these majors is Autodesk, which bought the historic compositing system Flame in 1999 and, since the year 2005, has offered three of the most widely used 3D software packages (Maya, XSI, 3ds Max). “Software like Maya,” writes Pierre Lelièvre , “is the one most present in the pipelines of the major world studios. When software is that popular, it’s hard to for any true competition to develop51.” The other major is Foundry, featuring the compositing system Nuke52, so widely used since 2007 that by now it seems impossible to replace it on a large scale with another specialized software package.

  • 53 Alain Carsoux quoted from Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels (...)

55As Alain Carsoux, ex-supervisor for the house Duboi and later CEO of Compagnie Générale des Effets Visuels (CGEV), pointed out: “With the Dutruc compositing system, we couldn’t compete with systems like Nuke, for example, which have so many developers. Opting for commercial software is part of a form of mutualization. But it costs us in terms of annual purchases and maintenance. We have to keep kicking in, that’s how it works, and obviously we’re obliged to reflect the cost of these subscriptions in our pricing53.” Giving up on proprietary software is above all a question of means, because in a financial crunch visual effects studios can’t cover the cost of investing in research and development.

  • 54 Jean Gaillard, op. cit.

56The only French VFX house to persevere in its choice of developing all its tools internally, including modeling, animation and compositing, is BUF. Originally, this choice met several needs: overcoming the shortcomings of commercial tools, focusing on the qualitative difference; optimizing internal workflow and retaining staff54.

57In France since the mid-2000s, supervisors have generally remained with the company employing them, but this is not the case for the majority of graphic artists who make up their teams for a given project. Approximately 80% of graphic designers are freelance, moving from one company to another, according to needs and desired specialties—something made possible by the more recent standardization of software.

  • 55 Alain Carsoux quoted by Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels p (...)

58Knowing software means mastering its functions, capabilities, limitations, time calculation, and properly evaluating the cost of its use—and above all knowing the people behind the machines, their expertise and skills. But knowing what software or a particular machine can achieve doesn’t mean having to perfectly master every submenu. Indeed, although the role of software is preeminent in the very logic of the development of VFX since the mid-2000s, the Supervisor cannot be expected to master or improve all available tools. That would be absurd, the equivalent of requiring an orchestra’s conductor to master each and every instrument. For Alain Carsoux, that’s what makes the job so interesting: “By not knowing everything technically, I’m going to take the graphic artists to places where they did not think they could go. Of course, I know what we can draw. I know what is complicated or not so complicated, because I did it myself as a graphic artist. I’ve been on projects that were easy in principle but were very complicated to complete, and some I thought complicated which were, in the end, completed easily.”55 So, while a Supervisor needs a minimum background on the software, especially its use by graphic artists, his essential role does not lie in his technical knowledge, but rather his ability to guide his team. The job requires a natural curiosity and the ability to rely on sharp specialists who know all the workings of their tool.

  • 56 Jean Gaillard, op. cit., p. 65.

59With the digitization of equipment and the progressive standardization of dedicated software and hardware, digital special effects made their greatest gains in activity and confidence between the late 1990s and the late 2000s, as digital image processing technologies first reached maturity and all-digital cinema began to be considered. But by the time cinema became fully digital, the French VFX industry became visually less ambitious, preferring to fall back on a primarily utilitarian activity “as if VFX were victims of no longer being the only digital aspect of the production chain, as though the extinction of the photochemical process spelled the end of the magic of digital”56.

2010s: Trivialization of the French VFX Industry

  • 57 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

60From 2010 on, almost all French films have been filmed in digital formats and no longer in film, then processed on a computer in post-production and projected from a DCP. This end-to-end digitization has a significant impact on visual effects by facilitating their use. But, so far, the means have not been facilitated, as Christian Guillon explains: “Then there are more shots and less time. Since we are able to do more in less time, well, it has become the norm. Now we are asked for shots eight days before a release. We must be up to the task57.”

  • 58 Frédéric Strauss, “Les effets numériques deviennent invisibles pour faire plus vrais ”, article pub (...)

61The 2010s have seen a strengthening of the above-described trend. Visual effects are now everywhere. All film genres make use of CGI and/or compositing shots, scenes in cars against a green or blue screen, digital beauty makeovers, etc. Yet film audiences don’t notice it all. “Digital effects have become invisible, in order to become more real,” says Frédéric Strauss in an eponymous article: “Auteur cinema takes an interest in visual effects as soon as they manage to be invisible. More real than real, visual effects blur genres and borders58.”

  • 59 Unpublished interview with Cedric Fayolle, 2014. Our translation.
  • 60 See the typology established by Christian Metz, “Trucage et cinéma” in Essais sur la signification (...)
  • 61 Frédéric Strauss, Op. cit.

62All this reinforced the presence of VFX supervisors from beginning to end of a film’s production. They worked hand in hand with filmmakers once stubbornly resistant of new technologies. Especially after 2010, the trade became commonplace in the chain of feature film production. As Cédric Fayolle of Mikros explained in 2014, “The profession is becoming normalized. It is also spreading because there are more and more images everywhere, and more and more CGI too!59” Nowadays, almost every French film has some VFX shots, spurred by the advent of the “digital workflow,” from shooting to theatrical release. “Auteur” films such as Amour by Haneke or Bird People by Pascale Ferran now readily include digital effects, and comedies, historical films and dramas have long relied on a visual effects contribution. In a way, visual effects have become “legitimate,” their advertising and computer graphics origins well concealed, blending in with the world of cinema as a whole. Paradoxically, it is also their “invisibility” that has made it possible for them to gain recognition in French cinema circles. Indeed, the most widely used effects are imperceptible ones60, about which audiences are still unaware, making it possible to reduce production costs (e.g., by multiplying cars or extras) without being experienced as an effect by the audience. If, as Frédéric Strauss suggests, “Digital effects become invisible to make them more real61,” we can assume that they also become invisible in order to be more acceptable to the French film industry. Their discretion, both in the shots and behind the scenes, helped to break down producers’ and directors’ resistance, making it impossible, as the calendar flipped to 2010, to distinguish them from shots not digitally processed.

63Progress, in terms of computing power among other things, now allows the implementation of photorealistic effects which were impossible to imagine a few years ago. Fire is a perfect example. Until recently a “practical” effect; i.e., one that had to be carefully filmed “live” over a black screen in order to be reworked in post-production, fire meant a marked hybridization of analog and digital effects. But by around 2015, the possibility of creating perfectly photorealistic fire using CGI, without the tell-tale flaws revealing its computer origin to viewers, became widely available.

64Visual effects have become routine in the making of films, regardless of genre, starting in the 2010s. Reluctance to use them—arising from the awkwardness, coldness, and excessive brightness, i.e., the main defects of early CGI—disappeared, even as a relative decrease in cost made visual effects a real added value, from both a financial and an aesthetic point of view, for French cinematography.

65The imperceptibility of effects prevalent in French productions is part of a logical evolution in a century-old realist tradition in French cinema. That evolution is not incompatible with effects, as evidenced by structures such as BUF, by now as comfortable on French auteur films like Enter the Void (Gaspard Noé, 2009), Bird People (Pascale Ferran, 2014), Voir du pays (Delphine Coulin et Muriel Coulin, 2016), etc., as on ambitious television series (Twin Peaks season 3, Cosmos, American Gods season 1) or international blockbusters like X-Men Apocalypse (Brian Singer, 2016), Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017), Independence Day: Resurgence (Roland Emmerich, 2016) or the Kingsman franchise (Matthew Vaughn, 2015 and 2017).

66In January 2017, Pierre Buffin, founder of BUF Compagnie, received a “Génie d’honneur” at Paris Images Digital Summit (PIDS). The award honors a personality who contributed, through their creativity, sense of innovation and vision, to evolving the film and animated image industry. Pierre Buffin’s many innovations in the field of visual effects and digital animation since the creation of BUF in 1984 makes him one of the leading figures of the global digital effects industry.

67He has teamed with such filmmakers as David Fincher, Michel Gondry, the Wachowskis, Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, David Lynch, Gaspar Noé, Luc Besson, Pascale Ferran, Lars Von Trier, etc., enabling the expression of these artists’ most singular visual ideas. Over the years, his company has distinguished itself through a culture that frowns on imposing digital effects for their own sake, and always favors quality over quantity. As mentioned above, it is also one of the last companies in the world using its own software, in a human-sized structure that highlights artistic versatility rather than reducing technicians to mere button pushers. Where big companies take down standardized effects for hundreds of shots—BUF workers are artisans, creating high-end shots that meet formidable artistic challenges, often with innovative, not to say groundbreaking results. For a Libération article in April, 2017, Pierre Buffin described his conception of VFX this way:

  • 62 Pierre Buffin, quoted by Guillaume Tion, “Effets spéciaux : Pierre Buffin, la grande illusion ”, op (...)

“I might sound a little pretentious, but basically, visual effects companies all around the world use the same software now. There is only one maker left. We are the only ones with our own software. It is expensive, because we have to develop it and keep it updated… but it’s what sets us apart a little from the others. It gives us our identity62.”

  • 63 Guillaume Tion, ibid. Our translation.
  • 64 Jean Gaillard, op. cit.

68But, as writer Guillaume Tion underscores in the same article, that leaves BUF with one major problem – how to franchise its tools and methods of creation. “Implanted companies already have software, and merging companies want the same ‘ILM software’ used for Star Wars. The landscape of special effects around BUF is becoming standardized, and it is the company’s difference that leaves it very isolated. Producers usually contact them to create certain raffish shots, like the Michelangelo of visual effects, whose workshop produces advanced illusions.”63 While the world has completely and logically accepted the industrial context of VFX, France’s artisanal approach, paradoxically, is ultimately the one that remains. Indeed, France is world-renowned for the quality of its specialized training and for the “haute-couture” of its effects. But in a sector in constant crisis, survival depends largely on advertising and by opening offices in countries that offer tax credits or low labor costs, such as Canada, Belgium, China, or India. That is the case for BUF Compagnie, but also for Mikros Image, Mac Guff, Digital District, etc. Beyond these “French VFX majors,” domestic competition is also growing, with an explosion of one- two- or three-person microstructures. The sector’s activity is divided among a dozen companies with an annual turnover of more than two million euros, including five “major” companies (Autre Chose, BUF, Mac Guff Ligne, Mikros Image, CGEV), and the rest of the field, at least 50 smaller companies, grossing less than 500K euros annually64, heir to a model from the late 2000s–2010. This increase in the workforce is a response to an increase in work. Visual effects are becoming more commonplace and are increasingly known and recognized by film crews. In addition, the uses are increasingly facilitated by the availability of software, the multiplication of schools and online training of all kinds, allowing even autodidacts to enter the profession as freelancers, acting as VFX producer, supervisor and graphic artist all rolled into one.

  • 65 For example, VFX Supervisor Bruno Maillard’s career and way of working was the subject of a case st (...)

69Some experienced graphic artists want to evolve in their careers, offering their services as external supervisors. VFX houses recruit them for specific projects, and they move from one gig to the next, from feature film to advertising, from one company to another, as the opportunities and challenges arise65.

70This generalization of techniques and the porosity of the boundaries between trades (colorist, editor, director of post-production, etc.) raise questions about the future of the profession. The role of the external supervisor, working simultaneously for different companies located in various places around the world, with no permanent office and no fixed studio is an increasingly common model. Video over IP enables enormous files to be sent around the world from individual production units to far-flung FX houses, making it more and more difficult for smaller, local FX houses to survive. Teleworking, using cloud and video link exchanges makes it easier to distribute work between countries, while international tax credits, aesthetic requirements or technological specificities drain work, traveling between Canada, Great Britain, United States, Belgium, France, China, India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, etc. This seems to be the biggest change of recent years, and it deserves more attention in a separate study.

71The VFX Supervisor has become a worldwide trade, more and more in demand but in financial conditions that are more and more complicated. In a sense, digital tools created that trade and developed it into its quite new contemporary form. But digital tools may also spell the demise of the Supervisor.

  • 66 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

72The banalization recently observed, both of VFX and the job of Supervisor in movies of all kinds, has its limits. Since almost all cinematographers have by now had occasion to shoot with a green-screen background, the supervisor is no longer systematically present on the set of each such scene. But seemingly insignificant changes (like camera movements, moving objects, composition, etc.) can complicate the task of making post-production shots. Partial knowledge of visual effects is therefore as challenging to manage as total ignorance or mistrust. The more familiar the effect, the more it appears to be a universal fix, sort of a magic wand. No need to remove dark circles under an actor’s eyes with make-up – that can be done after the shoot, in post-production. “We’ll see about that in post-production” becomes an incantation, the source of many misunderstandings and additional costs, often not paid or underpaid by production managers, and therefore shouldered by VFX studios themselves, to their great regret. Technology now allows any type of “last minute” modification, but often the cost is more modest precisely because it hasn’t been reflected in budget estimates. Directors are growing more comfortable with the possibilities, so demand is exploding, and sometimes a line is crossed. As Christian Guillon puts it, “If a director finds, during editing, that a camera movement on a shot is too chaotic and he asks me if we can smooth it out, I answer yes, we can. Before, no one said we could smooth it out, so we edited the shot as it was or we didn’t. The real question is, how much does it cost?”66

  • 67 Round Table: “Does post-production make the film?”, 10 Ans de rencontres Art et Techniques, Volume  (...)

73In 2007, Julien Meesters of Mikros Image detailed a related phenomenon: “While it is true that today few people start a film without including the post-production stage in the preparation of their project, the fact remains that, from my point of view, there is a problematic schism. On the production side, there is a huge culture of filmmaking but only a very vague idea of what post-production work is really about. In France, none of the post-production companies specializing in visual effects earn massive amounts of money, or even cover their expenses. (…) Everything happens as if we were working with two productions67.” This “double production,” with the shooting stage world on the one side and the post-production world on the other, has significant consequences for the supervisor. That will surely continue, although decreasing, over the coming decade. All this implies that the supervisor, to survive, must be extremely vigilant about shooting and must dedicate a great deal of time with film crews to teaching, never hesitating to use tools such as previsualization very early in production. “Previz” has begun to grow more and more in France, establishing more serene exchanges (aesthetic, technological, economic, logistics, etc.) between the world of visual effects and that of live action.

  • 68 Unpublished interview, op. cit.

74While the number of digitally manipulated shots is increasing, there is also some redistribution of effects during post-production, sometimes relieving graphic artists of certain shots considered easy and, above all, potentially achievable by colorists. Thus, the transformation of color grading software makes it possible to reassign “small” touch-ups, such as the removal of dark circles on a face in certain shots. “As color grading is also often done on our premises,” explains Cédric Fayolle, “I make direct arrangements with the colorist and I check with him about what he can or cannot do, for example what mattes are necessary68.” In most cases, however, assignments are determined by the Director of Post-Production, in agreement with the various technicians and given the technical capacities of the equipment, as a function of scheduling and, above all, budgetary constraints. Borders are increasingly porous between workstations. New professions are created to manage this interface and organize the post-production phase. In the studios, assistants or project managers as well as VFX producers are deployed on the larger projects. Within the productions, the Post-Production Manager takes over from his production-phase counterpart, the Production Manager, managing both the service providers and the budget, then overseeing the progress of the post-production, all tasks combined.

75Because time is always a major issue in the production of a film, in some cases, shots can be modified with no more than a week to go before the release of the film. Deadline pressures mount, forcing (already overworked) teams to perform close to their breaking points, with little thanks.

76Clearly, supervisors who had to adapt to new technologies in the past, will also need to invent a place for themselves on film crews in the future.

Conclusion: The 2020s, Everyone A Supervisor?

77In France, in barely thirty years’ time, the digital Visual Effects Supervisor was created, defined and developed, collaborating in the creative process earlier and earlier in the preparation of a film, and, with the globalization of FX companies which themselves have several business affiliates abroad (Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, etc.), becoming more and more international. Originally perceived as an element that could slow or even be an existential threaten for the process of shooting, the Supervisor has become a valued partner, sometimes getting involved in the writing stage or the direction of the second unit. One example of this – though it is certainly still atypical - is Au Revoir là-haut (Albert Dupontel) in 2017 and the collaboration between Albert Dupontel and Cédric Fayolle. Paradoxically, the more the Supervisor’s role and the visual effects themselves become widespread, the more their tools become commonplace, the more the studios employing them are in jeopardy, both in France and abroad.

  • 69 See the transcript of the round table by Bérénice Bonhomme and Katalin Pór: “The job of technical d (...)

78To sum up, a VFX supervisor must possess technical prowess, creative abilities and people skills, regardless of the film and regardless of the country where he works. Most notable is that the trade has now gone global, something which was not possible twenty years ago. The VFX Supervisor is totally dependant on digital tools, because VFX are, quite simply, defined as a set of digital tools for achieving the narrative and aesthetic goals of a live-action film. Twenty years ago, those tools were only just being created and studios sometimes chose to develop their own in-house software. That is rare nowadays, and one often finds the same tools at home and abroad: Maya, 3DS Max, Nuke, etc. There is, so to speak, a universal technical language. There is also a shared workspace, with documents and clouds for online creation and collaboration, available to users in Vancouver, London, Shanghai or Wellington. A perfect workflow and pipeline for the various studios is needed, but a new standard in film work teams and collective creation is emerging. Along with the new norms for organization of the creative process, we observe the arrival of a major new collaborator in major productions as well as inside VFX and animation studios, the Technical Director, who sometimes doubles as VFX Supervisor, as is the case for Dominique Vidal for the French studio Buf Compagnie69. What best explains the development of the VFX Supervisor is, of course, the development of VFX tools. VFX are now ubiquitous – from feature film and animation, to television shows, commercials, concerts, musicals, museums, web series and so on – so productions need professionals. Digital developments over the last ten years have accelerated the VFX revolution. The more VFX is used in film, the lower the cost because the price of computers and software keeps going down. At the same time, however, there is a never-ending demand for greater photorealism and more and more ambitious trick shots.

  • 70 Christian Guillon, “LŒil du superviseur”, in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux. Crevez l (...)
  • 71 Stephen Prince, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema. The Seduction of Reality, Rutgers University Pres (...)

79Considering the multiplication and simplification of digital tools, what are the specificities of the Visual Effects Supervisor? According to Christian Guillon, the 21st century will spell the dissolution of visual effects: “Tools designed for visual effects have spread to the other departments appropriating them. We now find our software, semantics, vocabulary, used in filming, production designing, editing, color grading, etc. What we have all known for a long time has become self-evident: cinema has always been a special effect and special effects are the cinema of cinema70.” This observation—by one of France’s top professionals—echoes Craig Barron’s idea, later echoed by Stephen Prince, namely that cinema itself originated as a visual effect. “This perception turns our familiar understanding of cinema on its head. Instead of organic images, reflecting only a minimal amount of post-production processing, what if the essence of cinema is, indeed, comprised of visual effects?71”.

  • 72 Unpublished interview with Philippe Sonrier, op. cit.
  • 73 See the article by Grégory Rozières, “Comment ont été créés les hologrammes de Claude François, Dal (...)

80While the supervisor has, despite many difficulties over the past thirty years, established a strong bridge between the world of French cinema and that of computer graphics, what if the completion of that bridge implied the end of the profession, grown too simple, too commonplace and too widely practiced to be specific? For example, could digital sets be handled by production designers, imperceptible retouching effects by colorists, even editors? Still, the fact is that the job of Visual Effects Supervisor still has a bright future, because, in the words of Philippe Sonrier, “we are moving towards complexity and it is therefore a job that will become more and more useful72.” It is also because the profession is also increasingly moving away from its initial fields of predilection, advertising and later cinema. Museum and live or “post-mortem” concert events (like Mac Guff’s digital “Pepper’s Ghost” bringing famous dead singers back to life on stage for the Hit Parade show in 201773), mapping on various monuments, virtual reality and augmented reality… Visual effects have become both more generalized in film fiction and migrated to other fields. They are now found in vastly different spaces, through specific media, and for sharply defined audiences.

  • 74 See Gilbert Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, Paris, Aubier, 2001 (1st ed.: 1958 (...)

81Constantly adapting to new film technologies, not to mention new visual effects technologies, the Supervisor is the perfect embodiment of the changes which the various stages of “digital” have brought about in the film industry as a whole. A particular form of “rupture and continuity” specific to any “new74” technical object, each change in digital technology redefines the profession, spelling transformations in the production context and the field of visual effects – and of cinema – in the broader sense. At the crossroads between technical, aesthetic and economic issues, the job of Visual Effects Supervisor lends perspective to a permanent reconfiguration of the environment, where considerable weight is given to the technical tool, too often forgotten or minimized in theoretical essays.

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Bibliographie

Cram Christopher, “Digital Cinema: The Role of the Visual Effects Supervisor”, Film History: An International Journal, Volume 24, Number 2, 2012, pp. 169–186.

Failes Ian, Masters of FX, Ilex Press, 2015.

Gaillard Jean, Report to the CNC on “The Manufacture of Digital Special Effects in France. Sector Overview and Proposals to Strengthen and Expand” (“La fabrication d’effets spéciaux numériques en France. État des lieux de l’activité et propositions pour la renforcer et la développer”, published on 22 June 2016, http://www.cnc.fr/web/fr/rapports/-/ressources/9672382.

Gaudreault André and Marion Philippe, La fin du cinéma ? Un média en crise à l'ère du numérique, Paris, Armand Colin, 2013.

Hamus-Vallée Réjane (eds.), Effets spéciaux : crevez l’écran !, La Martinière/Universcience, 2017

Hamus-Vallée Réjane and Renouard Caroline (eds.), "Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique", CinémAction no 115, éditions Charles Corlet, 2015

Hamus-Vallée Réjane and Renouard Caroline, « Du visual effects supervisor au superviseur des effets visuels, un rapport au collectif différent ? » in Bérénice Bonhomme, Isabelle Labrouillère, Paul Lacoste (eds.), revue Création collective au cinéma, n°1, 2017, p. 59-82, https://creationcollectiveaucinema.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/ccc_rejane_hamusvallc3a9_caroline_renouard.pdf

Hamus-Vallée Réjane et Renouard Caroline, Les Effets spéciaux au cinéma: 120 ans de créations en France et dans le monde, Armand Colin, 2018.

Hamus-Vallée Réjane, Renouard Caroline, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, Paris, Eyrolles, 2015.

Hénon Pierre, Une histoire française de l’animation numérique, Paris, ENSAD/Les Presses du réel, 2018.

Jullier Laurent and Welker Cécile, Les images de synthèse au cinéma, Paris, Armand Colin, "Focus cinéma", 2017.

Manovich Lev, Software Takes Command, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2013.

Metz Christian, “Trucage et cinéma” in Essais sur la signification au cinéma (tome 2), Paris, Klincksieck, 1972.

Prince Stephen, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema. The Seduction of Reality, Rutgers University Press, 2012.

Venkatasawmy Rama, The Digitization Of Cinematic Visual Effects, Lexington Books, 2013.

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Notes

1 On this specific topic, see Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, « Du visual effects supervisor au superviseur des effets visuels, un rapport au collectif différent ? » avec Caroline Renouard, in La création collective au cinéma, Bérénice Bonhomme, Isabelle Labrouillère, Paul Lacoste (eds.), n° 1, 2017, p.59-82, https://creationcollectiveaucinema.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/ccc_rejane_hamusvallc3a9_caroline_renouard.pdf.

2 See, e.g., Scott Ross, “It Has Gotten Worse” September 18, 2014, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/scott-ross-visual-effects-business-733950 ; Christopher Cram, “Digital Cinema: the Role of the Visual Effects Supervisor”, Film History: An International Journal, Volume 24, Number 2, 2012, p. 169-186; Ian Failes, Masters of FX, Ilex Press, 2015; Eran Dinur, Filmmaker’s Guide to Visual Effects, Routledge, 2017; Rama Venkatasawmy, The Digitization Of Cinematic Visual Effects, Lexington Books, 2013; Susan Zwerman and Jeffrey A. Okun, The VES Handbook of Visual Effects: Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures, Focal Press, 2nd edition, 2014; Charles Finance and Susan Zwerman, The Visual Effects Producer: Understanding the Art and Business of VFX, Focal Press, 2009; Pierre Grage and Scott Ross, Inside VFX: An Insider’s View Into The Visual Effects And Film Business, CreateSpace, 2014; Mark Sawicki, Filming the Fantastic: A Guide to Visual Effects Cinematography, Focal Press, 2nd edition, 2011; Mayur Patel, The Digital Visual Effects Studio: The Artists and Their Work, Pap/Psc edition, 2009; Pascal Pinteau, Effets spéciaux : Deux siècles d’histoire, Bragelonne, 2015.

3 Réjane Hamus-Vallée, Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, Paris, Eyrolles, 2015. For this book, more than thirty unpublished interviews with French supervisors were conducted in 2014 and 2015. The comments of professionals cited here come mainly from these interviews. See also Réjane Hamus-Vallée, Caroline Renouard, “Du visual effects supervisor au superviseur des effets visuels, un rapport au collectif différent ?”, in Bérénice Bonhomme (eds), revue La Création Collective au Cinéma, no 1/2017 ; Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard (eds.), "Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique", CinémAction no 115, éditions Charles Corlet, 2015 ; Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux : crevez l’écran !, La Martinière/Universcience, 2017.

4 Paris Images Digital Summit (PIDS) is an annual event dedicated to Digital Creation launched by the Ile de France Film Commission.

5 “Special Effects: Steal the Scene! The exhibition”, October 17, 2017, to August 26, 2018, Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, Paris.

6 Réjane Hamus-Vallée et Caroline Renouard, Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Les effets spéciaux au cinéma: 120 ans de créations en France et dans le monde, Armand Colin, 2018, chapter 4.

7 Christian Guillon, "L’Œil du superviseur", in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux. Crevez l’écran ! op. cit., p. 148-150.

8 Christopher Cram, “Digital Cinema: The Role of the Visual Effects Supervisor”, Film History, Volume 24, p. 169-186, 2012, p. 169.

9 From a professional point of view, the special effects include the manipulations made on the shooting set (pyrotechnics, make-up, fake props, cables, animatronics…), while the visual effects include all the transformations made in post-production.

10 Richard Rickitt, Special Effects, The History and the Technique, Billboard Books, 2000, p. 24-25.

11 Quoted from Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, op. cit., p. 15-16. Our translation.

12 Newell's 1975 teapot for example, see Arnaud Devillard, "Une théière aux origines de la modélisation 3D", Sciences et avenir, 22 October 2017, available : https://www.sciencesetavenir.fr/high-tech/une-theiere-aux-origines-de-la-modelisation-3d_117561, last accessed 30 October 2018.

13 For more information, see Pierre Hénon, Une histoire française de l’animation numérique, Paris, ENSAD/Les Presses du réel, 2018.

14 Cécile Welker, “La visibilité des images de synthèse françaises à la télévision : des images de la modernité à la modernisation des images”, in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (dir.), CIRCAV n° 25, “Trucage et Télévision”, p. 137-150.

15 See Laurent Jullier and Cécile Welker, Les images de synthèse au cinéma, Paris, Armand Colin, "Focus cinéma", 2017.

16 Société Générale d’Impression TEChnique.

17 Regarding the history of SOGITEC and the development of company computer equipment (software and graphics station), see Pierre Hénon, op. cit., p. 59-76.

18 Quoted from an unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, Paris, June 19, 2014. Our translation.

19 Thierry Cazals, “Le monde comme simulacre et programmation”, Cahiers du cinéma n° 399, septembre 1987, p. 56-57. Our translation.

20 Christian Guillon, from “Un métier d’avenir ? Entretien avec Christian Guillon, pionnier de la supervision des effets visuels (VFX) , Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, “Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique”, CinémAction no 115, op. cit. Our translation.

21 Round table “Numériques et cinéma : les effets spéciaux”, in 10 Ans de rencontres Art et Techniques, Volume 1, Actes 1 — Actes 5, 2000 - 2004, Montreuil, L’industrie du rêve, 2011, p. 26. Our translation.

22 Tom Sito, interview with Keith Ingham, Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation, MIT Press, 2015, p. 222. See also Laurent Valière, Cinéma d’animation, la French Touch, Paris, La Martinière, 2017.

23 Unpublished interview with Eve Ramboz, 2014. Our translation.

24 Unpublished interview with Alain Carsoux, 2014. Our translation.

25 Unpublished interview with Philippe Sonrier, 2014. Our translation.

26 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

27 Unpublished interview with Alain Carsoux, op. cit.

28 For more general studies of the changes brought about by digital, see Philippe Marion and André Gaudreault, The End of Cinema? Paris, Armand Colin, 2013; or Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard (eds.), “Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique”, CinémAction, op. cit.

29 See, among others, Anne Baudry, “Les mains fragiles, Journal de bord d’une monteuse”, Cahiers du cinéma n° 503, June 1996, p. 99-103 or Hubert Niogret, “Évolutions du montage”, Positif n° 531, May 2005, p. 84-85.

30 “Les monteurs associés” association, created in 2001, http://www.monteursassocies.com.

31 “And if we can already make a clone of such a famous actor today, that we will perform in his place, it is because he had long ago, without knowing it, become his own replica, his own clone before he was cloned”, excerpt from Jean Baudrillard, Le Crime Parfait, Paris, Galileo, “L’espace critique”, 1995, p. 49. Our translation.

32 The title of the article in Cahiers de la cinémathèque n° 65, December 1996, p. 95-104.

33 David Danesi, quoted by Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, op. cit., p. 66.

34 That same year Jurassic Park was released, which will have the same effect on the imagination of Hollywood production: not only could they do more with computer-generated images than with other trickery techniques, they could do it better and cheaper.

35 The passage from the end credits to the opening credits is also symbolic of the increase in attention paid to digital effects in the film industry.

36 “Pierre Buffin, « Les effets spéciaux sont un peu les éboueurs du cinéma », 20 minutes, November 16, 2011, disponible en ligne http://www.20minutes.fr/cinema/670635-20110216-cinema-pierre-buffin-les-effets-speciaux-peu-eboueurs-cinema. Our translation.

37 Ibid.

38 Quoted by Guillaume Tion, “Effets spéciaux : Pierre Buffin, la grande illusion”, Libération, April 21, 2017, online: https://next.liberation.fr/images/2017/04/21/effets-speciaux-pierre-buffin-la-grande-illusion_1564388. Our translation.

39 Claude Huriet, Rapport d’information n° 169 — Images de synthèses et monde virtuel. Techniques et enjeux de société, 1997-1998, https://www.senat.fr/rap/o97-169/o97-1690.html#toc0.

40 Bayon, “Se forger des nerfs en acier trempé”, Libération, November 12, 1997, http://next.liberation.fr/cinema/1997/11/12/se-forger-des-nerfs-en-acier-trempe_222098. Our translation.

41 See André Gaudreault, Philippe Marion, La fin du cinéma? Un média en crise à l’ère du numérique, op. cit.

42 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

43 Unpublished interview with David Danesi, 2014. Our translation.

44 Arthur Limiñana, “J’ai interviewé le Français qui a réalisé Vidocq”, Vice, September 7, 2015, https://www.vice.com/fr/article/jm7a4p/jean-christophe-comar-vidocq-interview-912. Our translation.

45 Sophie Grassin et Eric Libiot, “La revanche du film de genre”, L’Express, November 23, 2000, http://www.lexpress.fr/informations/la-revanche-du-film-de-genre_640480.html. Our translation.

46 Unpublished interview with Hugues Namur, 2014. Our translation.

47 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

48 Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2013, p. 56.

49 “In the middle 1990s, Flame together with the SGI workstation cost $450,000; an Inferno system cost $700,000. (…) Because of these prices, such systems were only used in television and film studios or in big video effects companies”, ibid.

50 Jean Gaillard, Report to the CNC on “The Manufacture of Digital Special Effects in France. Sector Overview and Proposals to Strengthen and Expand” (“La fabrication d’effets spéciaux numériques en France. État des lieux de l’activité et propositions pour la renforcer et la développer”, published on 22 June 2016, http://www.cnc.fr/web/fr/rapports/-/ressources/9672382, p. 61.

51 Pierre Lelièvre, “Définition du Rôle de TD, Technical Director au sein des studios de fabrication d’images numériques ”, graduation thesis of the École nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière, 2012, p. 46. Our translation.

52 First developed in 1993 by the VFX studio Digital Domain for use in-house, then took over development by The Foundry in 2007.

53 Alain Carsoux quoted from Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, op. cit., p.70.

54 Jean Gaillard, op. cit.

55 Alain Carsoux quoted by Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, op. cit., p.79.

56 Jean Gaillard, op. cit., p. 65.

57 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

58 Frédéric Strauss, “Les effets numériques deviennent invisibles pour faire plus vrais ”, article published in Télérama, 29 March 2013, available at https://www.telerama.fr/cinema/les-effets-numeriques-deviennent-invisibles-pour-faire-plus-vrais,95141.php, last accessed: 5 November 2018. Our translation.

59 Unpublished interview with Cedric Fayolle, 2014. Our translation.

60 See the typology established by Christian Metz, “Trucage et cinéma” in Essais sur la signification au cinéma (tome 2), Paris, Klincksieck, 1972, p. 173-192.

61 Frédéric Strauss, Op. cit.

62 Pierre Buffin, quoted by Guillaume Tion, “Effets spéciaux : Pierre Buffin, la grande illusion ”, op. cit. Our translation.

63 Guillaume Tion, ibid. Our translation.

64 Jean Gaillard, op. cit.

65 For example, VFX Supervisor Bruno Maillard’s career and way of working was the subject of a case study for the Création Collective au Cinéma REVUE n° 02/2019: Caroline Renouard, “Entretien avec Bruno Maillard, superviseur des effets visuels de Dans la brume (2018), réalisé par Daniel Roby”, https://creationcollectiveaucinema.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/ccc210_cr_171-204_5mai.pdf

66 Unpublished interview with Christian Guillon, op. cit.

67 Round Table: “Does post-production make the film?”, 10 Ans de rencontres Art et Techniques, Volume 2, Actes 6 — Actes 10, 2005—2009, Montreuil, L’industrie du rêve, 2011, p. 170-171.

68 Unpublished interview, op. cit.

69 See the transcript of the round table by Bérénice Bonhomme and Katalin Pór: “The job of technical director, hybridization between technical expertise and artistic creation within digital special effects pipelines”, which took place during the international conference: “La Création cinématographique. Coopérations artistiques et cadrage industriel”, November 23 and 24, 2017, University of Lorraine, 2L2S research laboratory, in Bérénice Bonhomme (eds), revue Création Collective au Cinéma, n02/2019, https://creationcollectiveaucinema.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/ccc215_bb.kp_.tableronde_237-264_5mai.pdf; see also Anne-Laure George-Molland “La fabrication des effets spéciaux numériques”, in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux. Crevez l’écran ! Paris, La Martinière, 2017, p. 132-144.

70 Christian Guillon, “LŒil du superviseur”, in Réjane Hamus-Vallée (eds.), Effets spéciaux. Crevez l’écran ! op. cit., p. 160.

71 Stephen Prince, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema. The Seduction of Reality, Rutgers University Press, 2012, p. 227. See also other specific academic references on this point, e.g. André Gaudreault, Film and Attraction: From Kinematography to Cinema (translation of Cinéma et attraction [2008] by Timothy Barnard), University of Illinois Press, 2011, Réjane Hamus-Vallée and Caroline Renouard, Les effets spéciaux au cinéma: 120 ans de créations en France et dans le monde, op. cit.

72 Unpublished interview with Philippe Sonrier, op. cit.

73 See the article by Grégory Rozières, “Comment ont été créés les hologrammes de Claude François, Dalida, Mike Brant et Sacha Distel pour le spectacle Hit Parade”, https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2017/01/11/comment-ont-ete-crees-les-hologrammes-de-claude-francois-dalida_a_21652682/.

74 See Gilbert Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, Paris, Aubier, 2001 (1st ed.: 1958). The adjective “new” raises many questions, as shown by Frank Beau, Philippe Dubois and Gérard Leblanc (HYPERLINK "file:///Users/renouard1/Dropbox/Caroline/revue MAP/MAP article SUP multiples visages du num/Cinéma"

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Réjane Hamus-Vallée et Caroline Renouard, « The many faces of digital technology
Birth, life (and death?) of the profession of visual effects supervisor in France », Mise au point [En ligne], 12 | 2019, mis en ligne le 21 décembre 2019, consulté le 24 janvier 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/map/3378 ; DOI : 10.4000/map.3378

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Auteurs

Réjane Hamus-Vallée

Réjane Hamus-Vallée est professeure des universités au sein de l’université d’Évry Val d’Essonne/Paris-Saclay, centre Pierre Naville, où elle dirige le master Image et société : documentaire et sciences sociales. Elle travaille sur les effets spéciaux (Peindre pour le cinéma. Une histoire du Matte Painting, Villeneuve d'Ascq, Presses du Septentrion, « Images et sons », 2016 ; avec Caroline Renouard, Les effets spéciaux au cinéma, 120 ans de créations en France et dans le monde, Armand Colin, 2018) ; sur les métiers du cinéma et de l’audiovisuel avec Caroline Renouard (« Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique », CinémAction, 2015 ; Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinéma, Eyrolles, 2015) et sur la sociologie visuelle et filmique (direction, « Sociologie de l’image, sociologie par l’image », CinémAction, 2013).

Caroline Renouard

Caroline Renouard est maîtresse de conférences à l’université de Lorraine à Metz au Laboratoire Lorrain de Sciences Sociales (2L2S). Ses travaux de recherche portent principalement sur les effets spéciaux, l’intermédialité et les interdépendances artistiques entre anciens et nouveaux médias, ainsi que sur la création collective au cinéma. Avec Réjane Hamus-Vallée, elle a codirigé le no 155 de CinémAction « Les métiers du cinéma à l’ère du numérique » (mai 2015), publié Superviseur des effets visuels pour le cinema (Eyrolles, 2015) et Les effets spéciaux au cinéma, 120 ans de création en France et dans le monde (Armand Colin, 2018).

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