Blockbuster filmmaker Christopher Nolan is known for his preference for practical stunts instead of relying on green screen and CGI, which add a level of authenticity to Nolan's movies that are missing from most other big-budget films. For Nolan's upcoming movie Tenet, editor Jennifer Lame told ICG Magazine that there are less than 300 visual effects shots in the entire movie, which, as Nolan pointed out, is fewer than what is seen in most modern rom coms.
"The visual side of the film is huge in scale, but our VFX shot count is probably lower than most romantic comedies."
Most moviegoers associate VFX and CGI trickery with the elaborate visuals of alien planets and fantasy monsters seen in Hollywood films. But a large part of the industry inserts CGI in movies, from dramas to comedies, in more subtle ways, from erasing unwanted parts of the background to seamlessly joining together characters and props from different shots.
Such kind of VFX editing is used to reduce cost and speed up the filmmaking process. As one of Hollywood's most meticulous directors with large budgets at his disposal, Nolan is not constrained by either factor. As he goes on to explain, special effects were a 'safety net' instead of the primary choice for creating the world of Tenet.
"Visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson was responsible for coming up with our safety net. We wanted it all in-camera, but if it couldn't be done, what choices are there in post-production? I like to say Andrew kind of bid himself out of a job because he helped us achieve such an enormous amount practically. There were still very complicated visual effects for the team at Double Negative, but Andrew's expertise and background in on-set effects benefitted us enormously."
Christopher Nolan also had strong words of praise for his cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who first worked with Nolan on Interstellar and recently earned an Oscar for his work on Dunkirk.
"The director/DP relationship is at least as important as the one I establish with a lead actor. The greatest DPs help you find a storytelling balance between creative exploration and practical execution."
So despite Nolan declaring that Tenet is his most ambitious movie ever, expect to see fewer CGI shots in it than Batman Begins, which had 620 scenes employing VFX, Inception, with 500 such scenes, and The Dark Knight Rises with 450. It will be interesting to see how Nolan crafts a more ambitious narrative with his upcoming movie while relying on less CGI trickery than most of his previous movies.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet takes audiences inside the world of international espionage, with a mysterious new technology referred to as 'time inversion' at the center of the plot. The movie features a lead cast consisting of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branaugh, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel, Clémence Poésy, Denzil Smith and Michael Caine. Tenet arrives in theaters in select U.S. cities Sept. 3. This news was first reported in Issuu.com.