‘Was that real, or computerized?’
These days, it’s getting harder for movie-goers to tell the difference. CGI, VR and visual effects are spreading across the big screens like (digitally altered) wildfire — meaning Red River College alum Andrew Degryse chose the right film career path at the right time.
Degryse, a 2007 Digital Media Technology (now Digital Media Design) graduate, specializes in making things look like they’re happening when they’re really not. In other words, he’s a visual effects supervisor.
Smoke, fire, blood, water — you name it, Degryse has faked it. When a director needed it to look like there was cold breath coming from an actor’s mouth because it wasn’t cold enough that day (in Winnipeg, believe it or not), Degryse made it happen.
When Keanu Reeves shot an airport scene on the local set of Siberia (in theatres this summer), Degryse added a computer-generated jet. And when the recently shot horror reboot The Grudge (in theatres next year) was before cameras this summer, he was responsible for supervising many of the sure-to-be gory scenes.
“Basically my job is making sure that we shoot things properly on set and we capture camera data so that the visual effects can be successful once the film goes into post-production,” Degryse says. “If we need to put tracking marks on a shot, or if there’s green screen, we have to capture it in a way that ensures it’s something the effects artist can successfully use.”
If it sounds complex, that’s because it is. Visual FX supervisors have to be extremely meticulous, work well with others, and be exceptional at time management — skills that few Digital Media grads leave RRC without attaining.
“It’s the Red River way,” laughs Degryse, who describes his educational experience as “intense” and not unlike life on a film set, where he might have as little as 10 minutes to coordinate a crucial, FX-laden scene. “My motto with anything I do is that nothing’s ever perfect, you just run out of time,” he says.
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