【獨家】「客戶瘋了嗎?」──好萊塢美術指導:你所不知道的電影幕後 (中英雙語)
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好萊塢業界有太多吸引眾人目光的亮點,相較於編導和特效,設計團隊的角色並不常被提出來討論。

設計教育中說到 Graphic Design(註一),老師都會對學生曉以大義:不要以藝術家自居,設計是為了解決別人的問題。

設計師之所以能行走於各行各業,無非是受雇解決各種視覺傳播方面的疑難雜症。有時候具有個人風格的設計師被請來自由發揮,表示他們的個人風格被雇主信任,能解決品牌的問題。在電影工業也不例外,要能解決別人的問題,設計師必須要有同理心,要能轉換立場為其他文化設想,最重要的是,要對人好一點。

一個電影美術指導,面臨的疑難雜症

設計師在處理影視作品時可能會遇到的視覺設計問題,大致有以下幾種:技術問題、行銷問題、文化問題等等。

技術性問題

各行各業的美術工作者都會遇到,只是電影設計要處理的問題比較包山包海。例如:請在明天以前做出三張全幅、符合醫學的腦神經科學圖表、我們希望材質感要是銀不是鋼、希望這個白色標誌能比白色背景更亮一點。

行銷問題

行銷問題則類似「廣告代理商」的日常大小事,例如:友台也同時推出三部吸血鬼作品怎麼辦、原著是兒童繪本,但電影版希望能賣給青少年以至於全人類、為了吸引女性觀眾,這部歷史劇希望能包裝成情殺劇。

以上三個類別不一定獨立存在,有時候一個一個來,有時候 A+B、B+C、A+C、A+B+C+A+C......以上情節,這次暫時保留,我們這次先將重點放在文化問題。

文化符碼、字體設計──請顧及全世界觀影者的敏感神經

影像設計中的文化問題,對設計師──尤其是非美籍設計師來說,一直都是最大的挑戰。它不只是概念問題,也是一種質感問題。

以全球為市場的美式大成本首輪片,文化問題相對較為單純。一般來說,只要能排除基本常識面的疑慮──也就是不符合倫常法紀,或是會冒犯特定民族的敏感元素,其他文化要素在 CG 渲染下重手的情況下,大多不是一般會關注的焦點。

但是就如前面所提,一個好的產品必須要照顧到全球人類纖細的神經,所以任何細節都值得謹慎處理。

舉例來說,在筆者參與設計製作的《X 戰警:天啟》(X-MEN: Apocalypse)片頭中,美國版與國際版略有出入。這一段動畫的概念為「以高速穿越人類歷史中,代表重大衝突和轉折的里程碑」。但其中人類文明發展的幾項重要符碼,例如基督受難像、蘇維埃的錘子與鐮刀、納粹十字、雙子星大樓等,都被視為敏感物件,而在某些國家的發行版本中有所增減。

圖片來源:X-MEN: Apocalypse / All rights reserved, 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Prologue Films


面對文藝劇情片,文化質感的重要性就相對增加。設計團隊能不能抓對感覺,對於製作方想要表達的視覺訊息,乃至於故事真實感,都會產生巨大影響。

舉例來說,同樣是牛仔風格,美國拓荒時期的鐵道標示字體,和遊樂園裡的西部探險區字體有很大不同。前者可能想要表達拓荒時期的堅苦和粗曠,後者則是闔家同樂、輕鬆幽默。

當然,客人們所提交的問題,經常不會這麼簡單。比如,所謂的「空氣感」,或稱之為「氣場氛圍」,有時對於大多數觀眾而言只是毫厘之差,但對於影片來說都是不可失控的重要元素。

好萊塢電影熱愛引經據典,考驗設計師的文青指數

除了字體和顏色等基本美學元素,無以言狀的各種文化引用,不時會在設計過程中考驗設計師的文青程度。

即使是貌似敘事層級不深的好萊塢主流電影,也如同許多美國電影一樣,不論是外顯或內在,都借用了許多西洋經典名著,文學改編作品更是不用說。因為這些作品深植於社會,影響了文化人的思考模式,例如《大亨小傳》、《蒼蠅王》、《動物農莊》以至於全套《莎士比亞》,在美國是人人都知道的學生讀物。

在藝文界人士日常聊天時,都會唐突引用《哈姆雷特》的情況下,一名時常需要和客戶做概念溝通的設計師若不熟悉這些作品,就算沒造成嚴重後果,也多少會在客戶的心中留下一些疑慮。

客戶簡報,檢驗彼此瘋了沒

在客戶的簡報(creative brief)(註二)中,會出現許多的引用。客人喜愛某導演的攝影風格、某 70 年代電影海報的構圖、某部片著名的運鏡或場景。

理所當然地,創意部門的負責人必須瞬間理解對方在説什麼──或至少大概知道對方在說什麼。

這類簡報不但提供了作品所需的情報,同時也是雙方創意部門互相試水溫的過程。透過簡報,我們可以知道這位客人知不知道自己要什麼、他們的藝術接受度,以及他們瘋不瘋。不瘋並不一定是好事,但瘋了大多都沒好事。

好萊塢式「致敬」:自首點子從哪裡抄來的

雖然每部電影在推出時總是要強調它「前所未有,空前絕後」的獨特性,但在好萊塢電影的世界中,「致敬」是一個非常重要的構成元素。

所謂的「致敬」是一種美稱,又稱「啟發」,把來自靈感繆思的贈禮歸至某位先代大師的名下,說得直白一點,就是自首供稱這些點子是從哪裡借來的。這個 collage(註三)的動作,我們姑且稱之為「混搭」,存在於八大藝術的基本方法論之中也沒什麼好批判的,但要拿別人的文化來混搭,首先也要能辨識這些材料。

為文化引用舉一個例子,筆者參加製作的美國恐怖故事"American Horror Story: Freakshow"第四季片頭製作過程中,不但需要考察真實馬戲團文化,在設計時,我們以該劇的靈感來源之一──1932 年的經典馬戲團恐怖片"Freaks"為根基,加入 Brothers Quay 的人偶劇質感、Joel-Peter Witkin 黑暗唯美的攝影風格,無非是要緩和這部片以 Freakshow 為名的殘酷本質。

圖片來源:American Horror Story: Freakshow / All rights reserved, FX Networks, Prologue Films


遇到以歷史,戰爭或宗教事件為題材的影片,設計師的史地教育水平意外地重要。學歷不是問題,但設計師在成長過程中,對歷史人文事件的關心程度,和史地資料的收集速度,都會影響作品的品質。

國內搞笑片講求草根性,科幻片容易征服亞洲市場

至於最難做的文化挑戰,坦白説是喜劇片。如同我們熟悉的國內搞笑片,喜劇片往往單純指向國內市場。而喜劇所謂的梗,則出自於國民的成長經驗和過去的社會環境。

透過關心國際新聞,大家都可以操作一些現在進行式的議題,但不是在美國長大的人,自然就無法知道過去美國發生過哪些梗。

這些草根的資訊,很多來自於美國過去五十年的當紅影集、三十年前紅遍高中生的社會現象等等。這些當年在電視前的兒童和高中生,就是現在的片廠高層人士。而不用説,亞洲文化中的各種搞笑梗、動漫梗,在西洋社會是完全不通用的。

一般來説,在文化面上,沒有這方面問題的魔幻類或是新興科幻片(星戰等歷史悠久的系列作除外),一直都是非歐美出身設計師的強項。只要能作出一定的 CG 水準,其它問題都相對次要。

亞洲同時也是這一類電影的主力銷售市場,原因同樣在此。很多在美國國內面臨嚴苛批評的科幻片,都在亞洲市場得到拯救。面對各種外星人入侵和宇宙船起降,大家相對沒有時間擔心地球人的文化代溝。相對地,怪獸和外星人摧毀城市的路線規畫,將會受到預期票房的影響。

螢幕上兩秒的視覺,都是一個團隊的心血結晶

每部電影依類型和資本差異有不同的團隊結構,但有個大前提:好萊塢電影工業,確實是一門工業。任何一個 shot(註四)即使只有二秒、即使螢幕上只有一行白底黑字,它的誕生,都來自整個團隊的血汗,絕非單獨一個導字輩、某個大師級人物,或某位當紅特效師可以一語概括。

電影這個商業產品的各種細節,在全球票房的壓力之下,絕大多數的決策都是經由各部門無數次的大小會議和審查。各種好與不好的成因,往往有如滾滾洪流般,就這樣發生了。在這嚴格的環境之下,沒有一個人的角色是輕鬆的。

謹以此文感謝過去合作過的導演、客戶和團隊成員們無比的耐心和熱情,希望有緣再相會。

註一:Graphic Design:簡單說就是文圖視覺設計,應用範圍包含平面以至動態及立體作品。
註二:Creative Brief:客戶簡報,內容為來自導演及製片方的各種具體或抽象的指示和期望。
註三:Collage:藝術作品中將各種元素重組的拼貼法,就是混搭的意思。
註四:Shot:製片用語,用來指稱影片裡的一個小段落,類似一般俗稱電影裡的「一個鏡頭」。在後期製作中只有空景或字卡的段落依製作需求也可能被視為一個 shot。

Design for Moving Pixels

While other crews in the Hollywood industry all have ways to win attention, in comparison to directing, editing or visual effects, graphic design has not been as well noticed as a part of the post production team.

People might be curious about what the design duties are in this glamorous industry; the nature of design never changes. Designers are there to solve visual problems and put the fire out, whether it came from Mars, Mordor, or the 3D printer.

Graphic designers, to differentiate themselves from other artists, are hired and paid by all sort of businesses and agencies around the world—to solve their client' s visual design problems.

Their personal styles may sometimes be trusted, but the visual problem of the product must be solved. This rule does not change in the moving picture industry. To solve other people' s problems, one should be flexible, empathetic, culturally knowledgeable, and kind to others.

Starting from the basics, visual design problems can roughly fall into three categories: technical problems, marketing problems or cultural problems.

Technical problems, as they have haunted graphic designers in other industries since the lithographic age, are set in diverse formats with random content when it comes to the moving picture scenarios:

Designers might be responsible to deliver a genuine-looking brain neuron diagram for a lab scene within a day. To re-texture a stainless steel logo to appear undoubtedly made of silver.

Or it could be as simple as that the white logo now needs to be brighter than the white background.

While the technical problems often go into bedeviling details and may reveal more about the client' s personal cognition to the world, marketing problems are for the bigger picture.

Marketing problems in the film industry are very similar to those in the advertising industry. They are the important business directions from above, which will actually affect the future of the entire production.

Examples such as:

Our vampire logo design must be distinguished from the three other vampire movies; The original story was written for toddlers but we need to sell it to teenagers and whoever can afford a movie ticket; We need to package this history show with murder and sensual atmosphere in order to attract more audience.

The problems from the three categories do not always come alone. Frequently, they cross-contaminate.

To avoid digressing, we' ll focus on the cultural problems at this moment.

While dealing with visual design, one may find cultural problems being the most challenging part. It is not only about the subtlety in the concept, but also in the cultural texture.

There are apparent difficulties when the designer is not native to the culture, and it is even more difficult when the audience is also not native to the culture.

The cultural problems in international blockbuster action movies are often relatively simple. In general, as long as designers follow common sense, and handle culturally sensitive elements with care, most things will be acceptable.

The culture layer of the story will be subdued by the power of visual effects. However, a good product made for the global market must handle its business responsibility to the cultural sensitivity of its audience around the world.

For example, in designing the title sequence for "X-MEN: Apocalypse", a full CG sequence which showcases a series of iconic milestones in human history, several icons such as the Swastika symbol, the World Trade Center and other sensitive objects were removed in certain international distributions.

The demand for a precise cultural atmosphere rises when it comes to dramas and documentary films. The design of visual and graphics has greater influence on cultural accuracy and on the credibility of the story.

For example, the font and the design of a western sign may stage the film as either a hard boiled western film, or a cowboy adventure comedy show. Besides fonts, colors, basic graphic elements, there are also visual or non-visual cultural references to be tailored to the story.

The references derived from personal and social experiences vary from culture to culture. When handling a story with real historical events, people who studied hard in secondary school will feel the reward. The speed and quality of cultural research is crucial to the quality of the design delivery.

For non-English speakers, it is recommended to have a basic understanding of western literature classics, the Great Wars, American history and subculture trivia. A shared language is fundamental to design concept development.

Down the road in the design process, the absence of shared cultural bases will lead to miscommunication, misleading and doubts between the designer and the client.

In order to stay on the same page with the clients, a designer is required to have a good memory for names, well known artistic styles and movie scenes. The initial design brief with the client will reveal an omen of the design future on the project.

Although every client would ask for the most unique and the never-seen-before, "homage"still plays a great part in the film industry.

The activity of collaging, as how it lives well in the nature of graphic design, it requires a basic understanding of the raw materials.

To pull another example from experience, during the design process of "American Horror Story: Freakshow" at Prologue Films, the design reference ranged from classic circus horror films to American circus history, and various photography and art forms that involve circus performers.

Our design team made the choice to incorporate Brothers Quay style puppet show, to add a layer of artistic style that set a distance to the sensitive part of the subject, and let the show tell their story.

The most challenging cases in the designing for motion graphics, however, are comedies. Comedy films often target the local audience, its essence strongly reliant on the shared background of a relatively small group of people.

One may be able to come up with borderless international jokes, but the strongest ones always come from shared memory within a very limited age range. Generation gaps could set barriers within people from the same region, not to mention how difficult it will be to say a good joke to people from the other side of the earth. The effectiveness of movie jokes become rather hard to predict, as the production try to respectfully entertain a full scale horizon.

Sci-fi and fantasy films have always been easy to enjoy by the vast foreign market and artists around the world. Not much shared culture background is required to understand the characters' mental or physical states when there are alien attacks and planet collision in sight.

While the route of monster invasion may be varied by global sponsorship and the box office of the precursor, when it comes to visual effects, cultural regards becomes secondary. On the other hand, audience tend to value the remaining cultural content in these movies as more layers of taste are fulfilled, the story grows.

Every film has its own structure in production, as so in design. The movie industry, as it is said, is a mass industrial production. Every single detail presents the result of months and years of efforts from hundreds and thousands of film workers, along with endless changes and decisions. In this hero-driven industry, the design effort is rarely recognized as a collective force from the motion graphics team.

I would like to thank the great efforts, inspirations and insights from all members in the team whose names rest within the blinks of pixels well designed.

《關聯閱讀》
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所有壓力,都是進步的原動力──特效化妝師程薇穎專訪(上)

 

執行編輯:YUKI
核稿編輯:林欣蘋

Photo Credit:Lia Koltyrina@Shutterstock(示意圖)

作者大頭照

Nadia Tzuo/設計影業 Filmodesign

Nadia Tzuo 現職藝術總監/設計,旅居美國。長年服務於電影電視產業,基本全年無休。
過去曾參與美國多項電影、影集、遊戲片頭動畫的設計相關工作。保持進取但不過度樂觀的冷靜精神,與您分享設計師在美國影視工業的實務經驗及各種大小事。

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