View Full Version : VFXSoup Interview - John Gajdecki

May 19th, 2004, 10:27 PM
VFXSoup has a new interview with Special Effects Supervisor John Gajdecki, and includes commentary about working on both "Stargate SG-1" and the pilot for "Stargate Atlantis" -- with some behind the scenes photos:


(Please follow the link for the complete article and the photos.)

VFXSoup chews the fat with John Gajdecki. One of the industry's best known visual effects supervisors. Click here to read the interview...

VFXSoup: "Hey John, how did you start in the industry? Did you always want to do this?"

John: "I guess I was lucky because I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I loved technology and I loved art. I was good at photography and at building models; I didn't like computers too much though. If you looked at visual effects technology 20 years ago what else could I do?"

**snippity doo-dah**

VFXSoup: "What are you working on now?"

John: "I'm currently working on pilot of Atlantis, the spin-off series Stargate SG-1. I've worked with the producers many times in the past and it 's just like working with old friends, because I am."

**snippity doo-dah**

VFXSoup: "What are some of the things you've learnt about shooting HD?"

John: "I've been doing HD in some fashion for about 5 years and the general rules of thumb are:

1) When shooting HD the lack of color depth is a problem, but nothing that we didn't have when we shot reversal films, the same rules apply : Expose for the highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves. Of course we dpn't shoot reversal films anymore for a good reason.

2) The compression is a big problem. It makes keys difficult by adding edges and noise in the screen. The noise is different from and in some ways worse than film grain.

3) Blue and Green screens should be chosen for what is being keyed not because you've heard that green is a cleaner key. It's not true, the noise of the channel is overshadowed by the noise in the compression. Shoot with blue if you are keying a blue sky, shoot with green if you are keying in a giant green slug thing.

4) I miss the extra negative area that film has. I would always transfers my own elements and re-frame the image or lay down quadrants to have the extra resolution to add camera moves in post. HD just means we shoot more tiles on the day.

5) Not being able to overcrank ( yet ) is a really big limitation for VFX work. The Panasonic vari-cam can do it, but not at full 1080p, so it's not a format that plays well with others. Usually we shoot elements on film, but it's just a matter of time. Anyone want to buy a Mitchell High Speed camera ?

6) Today's HD works best for dark shows like Stargate and Atlantis. 2 reasons : 1) The camera's sensitivity allows you to light larger locations with less juice. 2) Highlights get clipped. It's a rounded, softened, psudeo-film style clip. But you can still see it in the highlights.

7) Many years ago I saw Bicentennial Man as a digital projection with a prototype system and ya, the projection needed a lot of work. It looked way way worse than HD does now. But I'll tell you, no one walked out of the theater demanding their money back because of the way it looked. The story worked, the audience was there for the story. If the story is bad no one will sit through a great projection of a great looking image and that is the way it's always going to be.

**snippity doo-dah**




Larry The Chevron Guy
May 20th, 2004, 06:47 AM