Chris Amico

Journalist & programmer

Monsters, near and far

I’ve been watching Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and it’s great. Despite the title, it’s primarily a show about people and how they deal with trauma, family secrets and a sprawling conspiracy.

Over at Polygon, Zosha Millman interviewed the show’s VFX supervisor, Sean Konrad, about how they show and use the monsters. It ends with this bit of insight about dealing with things beyond our comprehension:

The monsters are so big, they can’t fit in the frame, right? You want to tell things from the human point of view. And if you’re standing in front of a 300-foot monster, you’re never going to be able to fully take it in; you’re gonna see a foot, or you’re gonna see it from a distance, filtered through the silhouettes of buildings and other things like that. And so a lot of that philosophy, that subjective point of view, informed how we shot the show, and how we approached our CGI shots. And sometimes you need those objective shots, where you go out wide and you see what’s happening — but we really felt like we need to earn that by constantly placing the action with our people. And I think that works for the philosophy of the show, because we are trying to tell this human drama, from this human point of view. And so if you constantly go out to, like, you know, 300-foot cameras, where monsters are fighting for two or three minutes, then it no longer feels like the same story that you’re trying to tell.

Great journalism does much of the same. The problems we cover – climate change, threats to democracy, inequality and mass migration – are bigger than anything we can see in one frame.

I’m always tempted to tell a story about systems. These are, however, ultimately stories about people and how we deal with the world.