Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Practical vs CGI

The character to my left is Carl Kolchak and he's from television. Recently I got the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and it's an awesome little show. You can see why Chris Carter was inspired by it. Maybe the biggest difference is Kolchak is more humorous then agents Scully and Mulder. But I digress from the point. What amazed me about the show was how effective it was and it only used pratical effects. Sure some make up is looking a little dated but it really tried to work with what it had and it just seemed a little spookier because what was there was really there. I for one think that movies are suffering from using too much CGI. Of course some movies do require CGI but there is just something about seeing it for real that can ellicit real emotion. Take John Carpenters The Thing, it's an older movie put the pratical special effects still stand up and make the movie that more frightning.

Moving on. I think one of the best examples of bad CGI is the recent Star Wars movies and in particular The Phantom Menace. Now I know that it seems everyone gangs up on these movies and it would seem stupid for someone to say the CGI is bad. But what I mean by bad is that it is used to excess and destroys a sense of reality. The reality of the movie can have wizards, robots etc and the special effects allow us to buy into the reality. Sometimes the overuse of CGI can take away from the emotional experience as we know what is on screen is not real. If we take the pod racing in The Phantom Menace everything is pretty much CGI except for a few headshots. A podcast I listen to regularly pretty much summed up that scene. It's an extended ad for the Pod Racing Game. I'm not going to keep this up as I still enjoyed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. But I like muppet yoda over cgi yoda, and the scene that gets to me the most is in Return of the Jedi where Luke goes insane to try and protect his sister. All which was done without CGI.

Still CGI has allowed some movies to be made that couldn't be made normally. But for me the best of these movies are those that still combine practical and CGI, allowing the CGI to enhance than be centre stage. One of the best examples of this would have to be Lord of the Rings. If you ever have the chance going through the making of documentry's really is an eye opener. While CGI is employed a fair bit there is alot of make up work done, pratical effects like forced perspective and bigitures. What are bigitures you ask? Big ass minitures. Bascially made to look like the structures of Middle Earth so Jackson could film some scenes with out the need of CGI to make it more realistic.

Look CGI is a good thing. It has allowed for some wonderful movies to be made. I guess I just have a few questions is all. Did I Am Legend really need CGI vampires? Does a computer background have to be used for every scene? Does a lone monster killing teenagers really need that CGI edge? Does a japnese gore opus need that thirteenth spurt of CGI blood? I think on that note that's all I have to say.

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