Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Gary Gutierrez, Animator, Title Designer, SFX Supervisor And So Much More!

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gary Gutierrez, an exceptionally talented animator, title designer, SFX supervisor and more. From his start as an animator on Sesame Street, to his work as the SFX supervisor on The Right Stuff, Gary has watched the industry rapidly transform from cell animation and optical printers to CGI and digital compositing.

Originally, films used glass matte paintings to create environments impossible to do in real life. For example, the original 1933 King Kong used many layers of etched glass to give the effect of a massive gorilla in a lush forest. The film then used a technique called “rear projection” to put the actors’ performances inside it. Since then, techniques have changed with films such as Back to the Future, using a combination of robotic camera movements, blue screens and miniature models to create a futuristic society. While matte paintings still exist to this day, matte painters use computer software such as Adobe Photoshop or Foundry Nuke, far from the layered glass planes filmmakers used nearly a century ago. 

Despite this revolution in techniques, Gary states that the principles haven’t changed. No matter the method, compositional rules and understanding how light works still play a major role in creating realistic effects that fit a scene. For that reason, Gary suggests learning how to draw instead of only learning how to use modern computer software. 

Skilled drawers still have great importance in the modern film industry. Animation takes so long to do, that virtually every animated film will “storyboard” before beginning. Storyboarding involves rough sketches of every frame of the film, allowing animators to easily replicate the design of characters, worlds and framing of every shot in the film. Live-action films use storyboards as well, especially when planning complicated and expensive scenes. For example, Gary did the storyboard for Black Stallion, a live-action film. In a certain scene, the filmmakers had to use a horse, a child actor, a camera on a helicopter and a large racetrack. A storyboard allows every person on the production team to know what to do and keeps the entire production organized. Even outside storyboarding, drawing gives creators the ability to clarify precisely their vision of what a shot should look like. 

While the medium of cinema will keep transforming, thanks to the rapid evolution of technology, Gary’s career and wisdom demonstrate just how important it shall always be to maintain learning the elements that make cinema – lights, camera and action. Thanks Gary for your remarkable contribution to filmmaking.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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