Goodbye Practical Effects, Hello CGI

Movies have been around since the early 1900’s.  There have been a vast amount of great films that were made over the years.  Directors have had sleepless nights trying to put together an idea that they had in mind.  Crafting that idea out of a lump of clay and molding it into what fits their taste can really bring out the charm in the film they worked on persistently to create.  It takes a lot of time and due diligence to be a film maker.  A short time ago it took even more time and patience before CGI had drastically changed the movie industry completely.  CGI is becoming more like a hand held GPS for a long road trip.  It has become that much of a necessity.  

The future of film-making has drastically changed over the years.  CGI is used more heavily in films than ever before.  However, one must wonder if CGI detracts viewers from the film rather than actually engage them.  Now don’t get me wrong, CGI has its positives if used effectively.  However, I will mostly focus on the negatives since I want to establish my point that CGI is overused in Hollywood.  Here are three negative reasons how CGI is beginning to take over the film industry:

  • Firstly, CGI is used too heavily in films today.

Films such as  Avatar,  the  Lord of the Rings  and  Hobbit  trilogy, Transformers,  the newer  Star Wars trilogy, and the  Matrix  trilogy, all rely too heavily on CGI.  In these films, the viewers are able to decide what is real/not real.  These films require the use of a green screen in which actors are placed in front of a giant green screen and have to “imagine” they are actually in the environment where they are acting.  This can be rather challenging for an actor/actress to try and believe that something is there even though the film crew will later “fill in” all of the necessary CGI work that needs to be put into the film at that particular moment.  Don’t get me wrong some of the films are well done in certain aspects.  However, the believability for me in a film is the next point I’ll dispute.

  • Secondly, the use of the green screen can detract viewers away especially if the CGI is poor.

Ever watch a film and say; “yea that looks fake!”  Well, you are not alone.  Unless the CGI is believable, the director should change their approach to the film.  There have been numerous times where I watched a film and thought to myself;  “the actors look as though they’re performing right in front of a screened background.”  This happens for one of two reasons:  Either, the director and film crew didn’t take the time to fix up some of the problems to make it more authentic or the green screen wasn’t necessary to begin with.

  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly is that CGI lacks the creativity that movies once brought us.

The Wizard of Oz;  Jaws;  Alien;  2001 A Space Odyssey;  the  Indian Jones trilogy;  even the majority of Christopher Nolan’s  The Dark Knight Trilogy  all used very little CGI in the making of those films.  However, the film that I like to reference to the most with practical effects and VERY little CGI is Steven Spielberg’s  Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park  will forever go down as one of my favorite movies of all time.  This film REALLY brought dinosaurs to life.  I have to say that if Spielberg never made this film, I probably would not have much love for dinosaurs as I do today.  The majority of this film, (and yes I mean MAJORITY), does not use CGI.  There are a few occasions where yes they HAVE to including the T-Rex chase scene, the brachiosaurus, and the other T-Rex scene where he escapes from the electric fences.  This film focuses mostly on practical effects with a ton of animatronics to make the T-Rex come to life.  These effects in my opinion are what set it apart from other films that rely mostly on CGI.  Granted, CGI was not heavily used during this time.  However I believe if Hollywood were to make a movie with only CGI dinosaurs, it wouldn’t look as credible or effective even to today’s standards.  If you want to check out some clips on how they operated the T-Rex look no further than these two behind the scene clips:      

As I stated earlier, I believe that CGI is hurting the creativity we once had in movies.  Practical effects in my opinion are the best way to truly bring out the best in a movie.  Even though CGI is usually faster to work with and saves time, it unfortunately doesn’t have quite the same realism that practical effects does.  Yes it is more time consuming, but in the end I believe it to be worth the effort.  I mean c’mon what sharks are more believable?  The shark in  Jaws  or the sharks in  Deep Blue Sea?  You be the judge of that.  I think you know what my answer is.

Here is a really cool article I found on various scenes filmed in movies using practical effects that are worth checking out.

Source:   http://www.businessinsider.com/movies-without-cgi-2014-3?op=1.

I will conclude this article by leaving this quote from a source I read online.  This person shares the same feelings towards the use of CGI as I do:

“Film used to be an art-form in which filmmakers always took the long route in having their cinematic brainchild become a direct manifestation of their creative cerebral stirrings.  Any compromises or attempts to tamper with their precious babies used to be treated as blasphemy or at least was met with violent opposition.  Unfortunately, that was the status quo of yesteryear; nowadays the corporate-types pull all the reigns while the creative department sits snuggly and silently within the pockets of their double breasted suit jacket…Hollywood, knows only the easy way out and shortest path to a profit, the most commonly used shortcut sweeping the cinemas being the dreaded CGI.  So tasteless is this accoutrement that is found in virtually every summer blockbuster that comes out nowadays, taking the place of actual effort on anyone’s part but a stock animator’s.  CGI-filled scenes are always the most disjointed parts of a live-action film…”

Source:   http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-otherwise-promising-movies-ruined-by-cgi.php.

So what do you guys think?  Do you think CGI is overused in Hollywood?  Also, do you think directors should change their approach and stick with practical effects?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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