Blood Diamond visual effects supervisor Jeffrey A. Okun has written to say that he “[takes] take great issue with the impressions and facts of your article on the Jennifer Connelly teardrop [in Blood Diamond].” Fine, except all I did was quote from and attempt to summarize a two-week-old Times Online piece by Ben Hoyle.
The thrust of Okun’s letter seems to be that Connelly’s teardrop on her cheek was digitally manipulated (i.e., copied or substituted), but in an emotionally genuine way because she really did “cry” while performing the scene…just not in the precise way we see her crying in the scene in question.
“Your article implies that the tear was added in an arrogant and off-handed manner with complete disregard for Jennifer and her performance. In fact, she did cry in the scene — but maybe not in this part of this take.
“Ben Hoyle, you will notice, did not say that we added the tear but that there was a take without it and a digitally manipulated ‘after’ shot with it. For all any of you know, we took the crying Jennifer from one take and used it in the other. Further, you should note that I, the visual effects supervisor, did not say anything about if we did add a tear or not. I spoke only to costs of altering performances and how I feel about it when I am asked if we can do it.
“Your story leads the reader to believe that we did in fact add a tear with wanton disregard for the actress or her performance.
“I would greatly appreciate it if you would please either print a retraction, remove the incorrect impressions or take the story down immediately.” — Most sincerely, Jeffrey A. Olkun, Visual Effects Supervisor, Blood Diamond.
Wells to Okun: “Thanks for writing and voicing your view. I’ll run your letter (you already ran it in the comments section), but I certainly won’t take down the story. All I did was quote from and summarize a story that ran in the Times Online — I didn’t write/report anything myself.
“It seems to me, however, that you’re splitting hairs by saying you may have copied a Jennifer tear and pasted it into another scene, etc. The bottom line, in my view, is that the CG guys — having dazzled but at the same ruined any sense of audience trust or belief in visual realism since virtually every scene in movies these days involving any kind of scale or eye-filling wonder is a manifestation of some form of CG bullshit (nothing is real, it’s all high-tech hard-drive fakery, a CG cartoon-like world through and through) — are now moving into another realm.
“I’m speaking of the world of emotional reality that actors strive so hard to deliver with focus and authenticity. You may be faking it a somewhat ‘real’ way in Jennifer Connelly’s case because she really did ‘cry’ at one point while filming the scene in question, but you and I know it’s the thin end of the wedge. The next guy is going to fake the next performance just a little bit more, and then the next guy and the next guy, etc.
“Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me Werner Herzog is wrong. No offense, but some of us feel that excessive CG is the worst thing to happen to the magic of movies in a long , long time, and this latest manifestation — copied/duplicated/substituted teardrops — is just the beginning of another wave of digital bullshit that will further separate moviegoers from a semblance of real-world reallity as they watch films in hopes of deriving a sense of whatever…art, meaning, real-life echoes.”