Image Conscious: A conversation with visual effects supervisor Randy Goux

Trevor Hogg chats with visual effects supervisor Randy Goux about his career…

“I’m from Cape Cod, Massachusetts,” states Method Studios Visual Effects Supervisor Randy Goux.  “My father is a musician and an artist.  I see a lot of what I have become from what I grew up with; there was a lot of observing and letting things affect you first before you put your stamp on things.”  It was by osmosis that the young salesman for a high end visual effects software got involved with the VFX industry.  “I ended up becoming one of the demo artists for Alias/Wavefront when I was 21.  From there I wanted to make movies.”  He notes, “I went along for the ride, started knowing how to do stuff well and working in studios, and here I am.”  Contemplating what is a great visual effect, Goux asks, “What do you say when someone puts their popcorn down and has to stare at the screen?  I find myself doing that when I’m impressed with something or something is getting to me visually.  It makes people stop for a moment.  They’re motionless and soak it all in. It’s not necessarily the seamless or the most grandiose stuff; it’s what affects people and burns into their memory.”  One such occasion stands out to the America who currently works across the border in Vancouver, British Columbia.  “The midnight screening opening night of Jurassic Park [1993] I will never forget that.  It was amazing.”

“Everybody has their different specialties as a supervisor,” observes Randy Goux.  “For me it’s all about the artists.  I wanted to become a supervisor because I had going up through the ranks seen stuff done well and supervisors treating us poorly.  I always saw when the supervisor met with the artist constructively, supportively and as a mentor, they always shine.”  Since beginning his VFX career with television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer [The WB, UPN, 1997 to 2003], Goux has experienced a lot of change in the rapidly expanding industry which has seen budgets getting lower.   “Normally VFX facilities didn’t hire a student because they needed to have experience.  Now the student work is impressive so it’s less of a risk to bring on a student right out of school.”  The evolution continues.  “There are a lot of companies out there now and a lot of work going on.  There’s going to be consolidation.  Vancouver has exploded.  In the next four or five years you’re going to see the companies which are thinking about the next four or five years still on top and some of the other ones will fade away.  Visually as far as what visual effects are going to be it’s going to be less of your Transformers and more like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter [2012] where it’s a different kind of visual.”

Randy Goux is well familiar with filmmaker behind The Avengers [2012].  “The main show there I worked with Joss Whedon was for Serenity [2005]; that’s where I had the most hands on and review sessions with him and was on-set with him.  It was a neat process.  Joss puts his trust in you as a visual effects person.  You’re sitting down next to him on the couch talking about Serenity.  We would go into editorial and Joss would ask me my recommendations as a real partner.”  Asked about his experiences on the Whedon created television series Buffy the Vampire Hunter, Goux replies, “You’re taking me way back here.  It was cool.  It was a hot franchise.  But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to shoot something on a Friday and you have to deliver finals in two weeks; that’s where you find your superstars.”  Graduating into film, the New England-native served as a CG supervisor for The Matrix Reloaded [2003] and The Matrix Revolutions [2003] which resulted in a lot of “trial by fire” learning.  “I have a lot of friends at Weta.   On the first The Lord of the Rings [2001] we saw a lot go down and pushed envelopes.   You realize that either you want to do it or it’s not for you.  I realize I really wanted to do it.”

  

Collaborating with VFX Supervisor Michael Owens on Invictus [2009] and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has been an enjoyable experience for Randy Goux.  “I have a hard time calling him a client when he is here.  Michael sits down next to you, talks it through, and understands what is reasonable; he has the same relationship with Clint Eastwood.  I think that came from the top down.  Clint was fantastic to him and he was fantastic to us.”  On the topic of 3D, Goux remarks, “It’s going to stick around.  It’s needs to be a lot more subtle than it is.”  Incorporating visual effects into a movie is enhanced by advance preparation.  “If you know what you’re getting into then you can have fun with it.  If you’re having fun then it’s always easier.  There are certain different paths that you go down when you do a show.  Sometimes it’s laid out for you and there are specific things that you definitely have to do and match this art from production to the ‘T’.  Or there is a director or supervisor you work for who wants to explore things with you.”  The experience on The Matrix sequels assisted in the VFX tasks required for the fight sequences featured in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  “I knew we had to keep our sense of pacing and speed on this one.  I wasn’t involved with any of the editing or the choreography but you definitely start to develop instincts for where the eye of the viewer is going to go at that very split second.  It’s half of knowing what you should be focusing on in the frame for your ten frame shot and half is to know what not to focus on so not to worry about it.”


VFX images of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved. Images courtesy of Method Studios Vancouver.


Many thanks to Randy Goux for taking the time for this interview and to learn more about his insights make sure to read Axe to Grind: The Making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.