After ‘Rust,’ will CGI replace prop guns on film sets?


LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Action scenes involving gunfire and explosions are spectacular these days, due to technology. Some of that Hollywood magic happens at Barnstorm VFX, one of many production houses that specialize in computer-generated imagery, or CGI.

In a quick shot of a typical gun scene created just for NewsNation by Barnstorm VFX, a gunshot involved no smoke or gunfire at all — even the shell casing is computer-generated.

“So we take all these elements, put them together and then splice the footage together and then add a muzzle flash element — a library of muzzle flashes,” Lawson explained.

Barnstorm owner Lawson Deming further enhanced the shot by adding reflections in the eyes of the gunman. They specialize in visual effects, and you’ve likely seen much of their work.

“There are visual effects in everything. Every show you watch nowadays, there are visual effects. Everything from just two people sitting to action movies, the biggest films that you watch,” Deming said.

From James Bond and beyond, computer-enhanced scenes with gunfire stretch from phone screens to big screens — and you might not even realize you’re watching one.

“Even in action sequences that are planned to be fully practical will probably involve visual effects eventually,” Deming said.

Images and audio can be manipulated and enhanced in infinite ways. Crowd scenes can be generated along with building backgrounds.

Deming said a shootout in a period Western film such as Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” should be fairly straightforward.

“You might utilize a particular plug-in or tool or libraries of elements … muzzle flashes, shell casings, other elements, using them across tens to hundreds of shots.”

He said the biggest compliment for visual artists is for an audience to be unaware of their work.

“We always want to do as good a job as possible because it’s what helps make people believe in the movies,” Deming said.

He estimates that more than 50% of action sequences involve visual effects. Much of that work is gunfire, explosions and the aftermath.

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