For as many articles I've read and videos and movies I've seen, the realm of visual effects remain a mysterious and magical power... not unlike The Force in that galaxy far far away. Speaking recently with two members of The Force Awaken's visual team, I suddenly imagine my confusion is probably akin to how it would feel to act a scene out with Chewbacca; all the Star Wars regulars understand his throat noises but I would definitely need subtitles.
Nevertheless it was a good time sitting down with Roger Guyett, a four time Oscar nominee who does both visual effects supervision and second unit direction for J.J. Abrams -- he tells me this is somewhat normal since second unit work tends to fall in the visual effects arena -- and Pat Tubach, also a previous nominee (Star Trek Into Darkness) who attempts to explain what "plate supervision" is though my brain won't comply.
Herewith the parts of our interview that I did understand, I think, and Roger & Pat's game answers including what their loved one think of their work and seeing the movie for the first time.
NATHANIEL: You're both "visual effects supervisors," so how does the work get divvied up? Do you get specific scenes?
PAT TUBACH: Roger okays everything. We do break things up a little bit for ease given the sheer number of shots and number of people involved. I worked a lot on the opening scenes: the village raid, the TIE figher escape sequence with Finn and Poe. As well as the rathtar escaping and terrorizing the gang.
So you had Captain Phasma -- I assume she was the most difficult to pull off since her suit is so reflective and much of her environment isn't actually there!