The Visual Effects
The Subtle Art of CGI
A signature hallmark of all Shyamalan films is the seamless integration of
visual effects into a real world. Unlike with almost every other major studio
movie, and certainly all superhero movies, Shyamalan's effects never call
attention to themselves. In fact it's often impossible to tell which elements,
if any, are computer- generated at all. That is both by creative intent, but
it's also borne of practical considerations.
"With Glass, we are making a comic-book movie that is one-tenth the cost of
every other comic-book movie," Shyamalan says. "I do that for many, many
reasons, but artistically, I believe in minimalism and I believe in limitations.
I believe we do our best work when we're faced with parameters: These are your
four crayons; what painting can you make?"
That philosophy extends to visual effects. "We want the film to feel
grounded, and yet compete with that level of spectacle that audiences have come
to expect from, say, a Marvel movie," he says. "Now, audiences know tacitly,
when they come to my movies, that's not what you're going to see. They're going
to see a psychological thriller. That gives us an advantage. If you're going 30
miles an hour and you suddenly jump to 45 miles per hour, it feels like 60. We
count on that illusion. You're watching a drama and then, suddenly, there's
something just slightly extraordinary. That's what the CGI does for us in
Shyamalan, his cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, and the rest of the
creative team worked with FX company Powerhouse, originally based in
Philadelphia, to achieve effects on Glass that will thrill audiences without
taking them out of the movie. "I've had situations on other movies where I
wasn't confident in the CGI team, so I kept looking at non-CGI answers,"
Shyamalan says. "But when you have a group like Powerhouse, you start to go,
'Hey, this is possible! That is possible!' It opens up a different way of
thinking about it. They did just a wonderful job, and often with things that
audiences will never even realize."
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