|True to his style, Jones wants to set yet a new benchmark: a fully animated feature that looks like $100 million, for a fraction of that cost. To accomplish this, Jones feels “preproduction is a key, but it’s also the choices we make in preproduction as far as the visual design, the development of the look, and how much detail you put into the build process as far as the models.” |
Jones feels that a lot of studios overbuild,
and not every frame has to be perfect. “Moving into the digital environment, a lot of
people seem to want to manipulate pixel
by pixel, frame by frame, because you can.
I think you need to use the power of the digital environment, the tools, but think about it as you would if you were a documentary filmmaker. You have to be able to shoot and use what you get.”
Jones hopes to streamline production by merging a paradigm of DVD and film, by designing characters that can use generic rigs that are modified by character, and by paying attention to the position of the characters to the lens to reduce background detail. By careful planning that involves the supervisors, leads, and Director, Jones hopes to avoid the tug of war that so often comes into play as the clock runs down.
Facial libraries and motion cycles of performance should allow more focused time on engaging performances. On the lighting and compositing side, Jones wants to utilize a digital timing process with a colorist to smooth out every scene. “You are always involved with the pipeline, the technology, the artists. For me, it’s much like building a racecar; I want to build the best racecar there is so I can attract the best drivers. That’s always been my inspiration and passion, is to provide a tool or pipeline that’s as easy to use as a Number 2 pencil.”
As if the task at Rainmaker wasn’t enough, Jones is involved in a personal project with a group of people creating a DVD series that teaches gratitude, values, and emotions, the basic principles of life to children. Jones is partnering other influential people on the teaching side and bringing those values together as lesson plans. They have their own distribution network in place, allowing them to place DVD’s into the hands of 60,000 stores.
“This idea came about when a friend of mine who has a group that he meets with once a week, were just talking about the law of attraction. It was during the time The Secret came out. They are all prominent businessmen, and one morning they said, well, why don’t we do something for kids? This project expands on the law of attraction premise, which is basically ask, believe, and receive.
It’s not overly spiritual, not overly religious; it’s believing in your intentions. It’s a way of educating young people on what life is about and how they might be able to control more of their own destiny. What we are trying to do is provide tools for the youth to expand upon their life so they are involving themselves from the self-help side before they’re adults, and they can start to explore the deeper meaning of life.”
Jones feels a great family atmosphere teaches love, understanding, and appreciation, but those are also things that are formulated over a matter of time by individual perception. The majority of schools do not teach values or the meaning of one’s emotions, or what gratitude means. For Jones, this is a huge undertaking, trying to find a way they can change the world in a positive way with the youth, so that the future generations will have a model and a foundation that they can then stand on, “and that all of us can feel proud that we’ve contributed something more than just what we do on a day to day basis to the future of society.”
The DVD’s will be interactive with the parents initially engaged with the children’s learning. The second level is viral within the web, with a website set up specifically for the child to expand their interactivity further.
|Plans are the child will have the choice of creating their own avatar. Each time they log on they get information or education about values, emotions, and gratitude. It is soft learning as the child is involved in game playing, edutainment as opposed to entertainment. |
By hyperlinking topics to content on the web, a story, for example, about people thankful for warm blankets coupled with a touch screen allows the child to learn about how blankets are made, with the option of saving the information on the hard drive for later.
“Some people might say this could be religious or spiritual, but if you really break it down, it’s the foundation of what we all should strive to practice on a daily basis. The more that you are thankful, the more it allows opportunities for newer things to come into your life to be thankful for. We are being very careful not to take this too religious or too spiritual, but to make it universal in its approach.
We know that there are going to be people out there that will have negative responses to this, that you shouldn’t be teaching children this type of thing, but at the same time we think the positive side outweighs the negative by hundreds and thousands. For me, I think it’s going to change the world, that’s how big I think it is. I know that’s the way I want to think of it. It’s for the kids, and who doesn’t want to do something for the kids?”
Jones said it’s about being passionate about what one does and believes. “I love storytelling, I love filmmaking, but I’ve always felt I want to contribute something to the world. I never thought I would have children personally because I started late in life. Children have changed my whole life in ways I never felt possible.”
Though Jones didn’t think he would have children, it was always Jones’s goal to be a Producer, to “make projects that I wanted to make, and be able to control the process of filmmaking on the projects. There’s a certain cache and sexiness to being a VFX Sup, but at the same time, I think that the studio business has become such that, as a creator, you do not have the independence or the freedom that one used to have years ago.”
The thing Jones thinks is the greatest thing for the industry is pushing the envelope of VFX, pushing the envelope of animation from 2D to 3D. He feels the tools for storytelling have become more visual, so now the audience is much more critical and demand the best and obviously the studios follow suit. “They won’t admit to it, but why is it always the blockbuster summer pictures that has big VFX films in it that are the ones that are all about box office numbers?”
But Jones firmly reiterates storytelling is key, and if you don’t have a great story, there is not much you can express with the imagery. “I’ve always believed that visual FX should be used as the exclamation point on the sentence, not the sentence.” He compares it to stories as timeless as sitting around a campfire making up whatever that illusion is.
Be it finding the storyline or breaking new ground, Ed Jones is not one to back away. “If someone says it can’t be done, I’m usually interested in signing up for it. What I’ve learned is that, in this industry, if someone says you can’t do it, you will find a way to get it done. That’s the challenge, and that’s what attracts me. I think we live and breathe this industry and then go home at night and not sleep well. But the value of that is I am able to go home and dream about those challenges at night and work through those challenges in my dreams. It might be restless sleep, but it’s something I live and breathe, it’s who I am.”
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