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General Discussion => Movie Talk => Topic started by: Variety of Cells on October 23, 2006, 09:22:42 AM

Title: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on October 23, 2006, 09:22:42 AM
This was started in another topic, but it was suggested that I move it here, and I agree.  Anyone have thoughts on the current state of CGI in films?  Here are mine.

I personally like the way Terry Gilliam puts it.  With CGI, you can not be surprised.  When you make models, the light might shine off it in a way that was unexpected, or it might move and feel different then what was planned, which adds to the realism.  WIth CGI, everything is created to look exactly as intended, no surprises, no magic moments where the light was just right and the actors performance was amazing and he played off of his surroundings, creating something unexpected but beautiful.  Also, when making CGI cities or places, they are created by a handful of people.  Real cities are created by millions of different people, so there's bound to be some fakeness to it.

Though there is CGI that I love.  Final Fantasy Advent Children is amazing.  The sheer amount of detail put into it is mind boggling.  And they moved the camera in ways that you just can't in the real world, for some very cool effects.

And how do you feel?
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Pak-Man on October 23, 2006, 09:32:48 AM
CGI is a tool and, like with any tool, the user just has to know how to use it effectively.
Let's look at Lord of the Rings (I know the love isn't 100% mutual for everyone in these parts, but most can agree it's a visually stunning movie.)
Peter Jackson used CGI to do ONLY what couldn't be made real. The Shire wasn't CGIed. They actually built a set in the wild and grew plants over it. Makeup was used whenever possible, and it was only with creatures like Golum that CGI was used. This way, CGI is filling in the gaps in what couldn't be done before, and is doing what it needs to do, while letting reality continue to look real.
So CGI CAN be used effectively. It's given us movies that wouldn't have been possible before and allowed movie directors to show their unfiltered vision.
That said, when you're using CGI to do something that could be done with standard special effects, you're just being lazy, and the downside to that laziness is that there's an undefinable fakeness to your movie when it becomes overpopulated with CGI items and characters.
I imagine that filmmakers will eventually figure out the balance. When a new technology comes along, the first impulse is to use it as much as you can. Then camps are formed between the "Use it as much as you cans" and the "Don't use it at alls." Finally, there'll be a balance and movies will be all the better for it. We're getting closer. It's not being overused in as many recent movies.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: kodiakthejuggler on October 23, 2006, 10:47:14 AM
CGI is great for most applications, but "humanlike" CGI is still far away. Sure, it looks better than ever, but the human body is the hardest thing in nature to get just right, and the current state of CGI is just not there yet.

I was watching Terminator 2 just last night, and there are many shots in that film that almost look photorealistic. And the amount of detail put into each shot is mind boggling! Case in point: the reflection of the chopper pilot as the T-1000 breaks through the glass and morphs inside. And for its time, 1992, can still out perform even some of today's big budget blockbusters.

Another good bit of CGI is in Forrest Gump, how they removed Leutennant Dan's legs. It looks so seamless.

Same with Jurassic Park. Those dinosaurs, especially the T-Rex look so amazing. It's hard to tell that it's digital.


But, movies like Lost in Space(1998) are just horrible in the CGI department, with special effects that are trumped by PC games.

So, when used properly and given great care and detail, CGI is a welcome addition.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Joe Don Faker on October 23, 2006, 10:55:58 AM
The examples of good CGI you point out Kodiak, I agree with.

Though I do like the achievement of realistic effects via actual sets, puppets, make-up, lighting, and rubber prosthetics.  One of my favorite movies, THE THING, uses all of these masterfully, creating numerous effects that are realistically gross and stand up well, 25 years later.  And I was just watching the 1985 version of THE FLY, which again has some pretty disturbing and memorable effects done without CGI.

To add to the list of "good CGI" though:  I remember thinking it was pretty well done in another Cameron film, Titanic.  (In any case the one little CGI man falling the length of the ship and clanging his head on a pipe on the way down... that stays with me... ;)
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Petey Wheatstraw on October 23, 2006, 12:17:51 PM
In many instances where the use of CGI has been discussed, the phrase "The CGI was so good, you couldn't even tell it was there." Really? It just seems to me that if the CGI was really good, you wouldn't even know that there was CGI in it, and if you can't tell that it's there, you wouldn't talk about it.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Sharktopus on October 23, 2006, 12:22:47 PM
I personally like the way Terry Gilliam puts it.  With CGI, you can not be surprised.

I don't have time to pontificate on CGI right now but I just wanted to say that Terry Gilliam's gone quite mad and his films are all the better for it. I'd love to see what he could do with an unlimited budget and complete creative freedom. Of course, he'd probably make Don Quixote in outer space or something, and my head would explode four hours into it, before the second act even ended.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: gammer on October 23, 2006, 12:33:33 PM
I understand the need for CGI to "fill the gaps" when you look at the cost/time:money ratio. But to date, you can still tell when its in a movie and it looks fake.
Whenever I watch the making of the old Star Wars movies or Raiders of the Lost Ark, I'm always amazed at the detail that went into a scene, as they had no option to use CGI. And it showed, as it looks more realistic this way...or at least you can tell a computer didnt do it.

I think the worst movies for overuse of CGI is the newer Star Wars movies. Shame on you! Bad movie...BAD!
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Grillslinger on October 23, 2006, 12:39:47 PM
I loved The Thing. I loved The Lord of the Rings.

Effects, whether they are physical or digital, should be used to help tell the story. CGI is good when used as a sculpting tool (peter Jackson), but not when used as the clay (George Lucas, who, while visiting the immense Gangs of New York set, said, "You know, you can do all this with CG now.")

Some directors, and some companies, can use CGI and make it look more realistic than others can. It can be well used and is, more often than people think, undetected.

It can be amazing.

Unfortunately, many people simply feel the need to use it as a selling point to get a movie made, and use CGI for an effect that can be created simply and conventionally. The Ebersik (2 headed dragon from Willow looked far more realistic than any of the creatures in that Spy Kids movie which came well over a decade later.

Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Tarantulas on October 23, 2006, 12:46:51 PM
CGI can be used as a story telling tool... not as the story itself...  YES, I'M LOOKING AT YOU, GEORGE! ;)
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Sharktopus on October 23, 2006, 12:47:19 PM
I loved The Thing. I loved The Lord of the Rings.

What about The Lord Of The Thing?
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: SmilinJackRoss on October 23, 2006, 12:54:15 PM
In many instances where the use of CGI has been discussed, the phrase "The CGI was so good, you couldn't even tell it was there." Really? It just seems to me that if the CGI was really good, you wouldn't even know that there was CGI in it, and if you can't tell that it's there, you wouldn't talk about it.

I hope you're being sarcastic.

Just because you can't tell it's CGI, doesn't mean you don't know it's there.  Example:  The main character of a movie gets shot in the head, and the bullet wound looks completely real, the CGI is flawless.  Now...I know that it isn't real because, well, they don't actually shoot actors in the head.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Grillslinger on October 23, 2006, 12:57:52 PM
The Lord of the Thing is the absolute best! Even Mike is in Awe of its (need a new word, since no other will do)...awsominity.

Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Petey Wheatstraw on October 23, 2006, 01:09:22 PM
In many instances where the use of CGI has been discussed, the phrase "The CGI was so good, you couldn't even tell it was there." Really? It just seems to me that if the CGI was really good, you wouldn't even know that there was CGI in it, and if you can't tell that it's there, you wouldn't talk about it.

I hope you're being sarcastic.

Just because you can't tell it's CGI, doesn't mean you don't know it's there.  Example:  The main character of a movie gets shot in the head, and the bullet wound looks completely real, the CGI is flawless.  Now...I know that it isn't real because, well, they don't actually shoot actors in the head.

Well, what I was talking about was films having an air of mystery to them, not audiences knowing what specific special effect was used on scenes like that. No sane person would think that scenes like that were real. But you shouldn't know how those scenes were created. If the average viewer can tell what effect was used, the effect has failed. It's better for films to have an air of mystery in terms of special effects, for scenes where something absolutely impossible happens, the viewer needs to say "Wow, how did they do that?" Not, "Wow - that was great CGI."

When "King Kong" came out (the good one, I mean), RKO issued a variety of contradicting press releases and statements so that no one would really know how the special effects were created without specifically stating what exactly they did. Audiences knew that you wouldn't have a giant ape standing around on a set, but they didn't tell people it was stop-motion, and audiences didn't know that it was stop-motion.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Shinigami on October 23, 2006, 01:14:25 PM
The biggest problem with CGI is it allows for alot of complete hack directors to make things that are sellable.  I think the best example would be Rob Cohen.  His dependance on flashy special effects for movies is absolutely atrocious.  He can make a movie marketable simply by hiring out a CGI company to make outrageous sequences.  He doesn't have to concern himself with believeability, characters, or anything else.  Just sheer flashy-ness.

I think the best example of good CGI would be Underworld: Evolution.  I highly recommend you watch the making of specials.  They did a very high percentage of practical effects, and then augmented them with CGI to make them more seemless.  The main vampire baddy was a guy in makeup.  Alot of people thought it was pure CGI, but even when he was flying it was a guy in makeup.  They did flying by putting him in wire works, and then digitally removing the wire and inserting wings.  The end result is highly believable, and it was cheaper than pure CGI!!
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: MontyServo on October 23, 2006, 02:45:15 PM
I used to love CGI.  I would always be amazed at the things that they would show with these special effects.  It was really neat.  It would let you see things that you would have never been able to see before.  The technical marvels of CGI were ahead of their time.

I would watch every Thursday night.

But when they started with the CGI Miami and the CGI New York, that was when I started to think that maybe CGI was overrated.  Now I just watch Law & Order SVU.

Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Tarantulas on October 23, 2006, 02:50:52 PM
Episode 1 killed it for me.

Something like "Jurassic Park" had it right...  Just enough to add to the shots you are trying to accomplish.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Joe Don Faker on October 23, 2006, 03:28:24 PM
But when they started with the CGI Miami and the CGI New York, that was when I started to think that maybe CGI was overrated.  Now I just watch Law & Order SVU.

Ha ha.  The power of CGI wasn't enough to recreate David Caruso's film career, apparently...
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: mrbasehart on October 23, 2006, 06:39:39 PM
I think the best example of good CGI would be Underworld: Evolution.

Yeah, it looks good.  Pity the film stinks, though :)
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Sharktopus on October 25, 2006, 04:45:16 AM
Underworld Evolution is an hour and a half of exposition they left out of the first one. And writer/director Len Wiseman said as much in a special feature. They came up with so much backstory that they would dole it out over two or three movies if audience reaction to the first one allowed it. Too bad they didn't come up with two or three movies worth of plot. You do have to respect they're sticking with in-camera effects these days, though. Now how about not filtering out every last drop of color from the film, Len?
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on December 18, 2006, 07:16:41 PM
And through the power vested in me, I raise this thread from the dead.

When I went to see Apocalypto I was sitting next to a couple who were obviously not enjoying the movie very much.  The guy's cell phone also rang twice during the film, to give you a little insight as to who this person is.  Anyway, when the leopard scene comes up, I heard the couple laughing and saying "man it's just a puppet.  Looks so fake." 

I admit that you could tell it was a puppet, but it was an awful good puppet.  However, it got me thinking.  They didn't yell out at the CGI pig at the beginning, so why didn't they accept the puppet?  It's just as easy to notice that something is CGI as it is to notice that something is a puppet.  In both cases it's relatively simple, for the main reason that whenever you would normally use CGI or a puppet is when it would be impossible or too dangerous to use the real thing.  So your disbelief is already high because you know it has to be some sort of trick.  But still, when you can spot CGI (which you can't always do, same with puppets) it looks realllly fakey.  And it bothers me that the normal movie going public will accept shitty CGI, but will no longer accept decent puppets.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Minnesota on December 18, 2006, 07:46:11 PM
Thanks Variety, I didn't know you had Keanu's powers of resurrection Speaking of CGI pigs,  Babe was quite the groundbreaking title ;)

To go further into what Variety was saying though, I agree people complain about the stupidest things like puppets, then fail to notice the more important points like plot holes.

Also some people will make fun of ANY special effects (my dad was this way), every time something happened that would suspend belief, they say "yeah right" or something like that... doesn't matter if the effects are good or bad, they just always point out special effects.

p.s. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the future, I'm surprised @ how many people haven't seen it yet?!
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on December 18, 2006, 07:50:11 PM
p.s. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the future, I'm surprised @ how many people haven't seen it yet?!

Well you have redeemed yourself in my eyes Minnesota.  I am now once again proud to live in you.  Advent Children is amazing.  I wish they would have released it in theaters. 
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Minnesota on December 18, 2006, 08:00:00 PM
yeah, that was the original topic right :) Did ya see that a double dip dvd is coming out in a couple months for 50 suggested retail and there are virtually no new additions to the old 2-disc version.

The funny thing is I've never played a final fantasy game in my life ... and that movie was like number 1 or 2 on my 2006 top ten list.


Edit: speaking of the 2006 top ten thread
http://www.rifftrax.com/smf/index.php?topic=780.0 (http://www.rifftrax.com/smf/index.php?topic=780.0)

It is that time of year if anyone wants to Resurrect that topic as well...
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Sharktopus on December 19, 2006, 12:43:13 AM
To go further into what Variety was saying though, I agree people complain about the stupidest things like puppets, then fail to notice the more important points like plot holes.

Also some people will make fun of ANY special effects (my dad was this way), every time something happened that would suspend belief, they say "yeah right" or something like that... doesn't matter if the effects are good or bad, they just always point out special effects.

I HATE people like that! There was somebody at Superman Returns whho said "That looks fake" when the bullet bounces off Supey's eye. Of course it looks fake! It's a bullet bouncing of an eye! It looks fake when he flies too. Get over it. There are bigger things to complain about.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on December 19, 2006, 12:53:37 AM
I HATE people like that! There was somebody at Superman Returns whho said "That looks fake" when the bullet bounces off Supey's eye. Of course it looks fake! It's a bullet bouncing of an eye! It looks fake when he flies too. Get over it. There are bigger things to complain about.

I agree.  At least he didn't fly like the Puma Man.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on December 19, 2006, 03:45:45 PM
The best CGI is the CGI you never notice.  Like when that cow gets hit by the car in Oh Brother Where Art Thou. 
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Brak on December 19, 2006, 05:14:43 PM
Since we are on the subject, how would you consider the CGI for the Pirates films?  I myself didnt realize that a lot of the landscape shots were all CGI, and when i checked out this site http://www.ilm.com/theshow/ it was just amazing how much the actually put in there.  just wanted to get your thoughts on that
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Grillslinger on December 20, 2006, 08:18:21 AM

Peter Jackson's LOTR was pretty, but sometimes just...too much. When the camera flies from someone's left nostril to the top of a million-foot-high cgi construct of Orthanc into a moth's rectum, it just kills any believability.
Essentially, I'd like CGI to be able to be mistaken for model-work. That's my ideal version.

I think Orthanc was actually done with model work.

So that Star Trek update is good, huh? I heard about that and thought it would be awful. I'm glad to hear that's not the case.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: J-Proof on December 20, 2006, 09:52:52 AM
In referenece to Apocalypto: I thought the jaguar looked very real! So real in fact that I couldn't tell he was fake, and didn't even consider it being fake until it was mentioned in this thread. (Of course I knew the scenes with the jag and the humans wrestling and whatev' had to be fake, but I never once leaned over to Mike and said "hmm.... fake-ass jaguar, dude."

Anyway - the whole CGI topic is a very good topic. I personally think CGI is too commonly over-used so that studios can come up with the next summer blockbuster... Obviously, the Star Wars Prequels were rather over-zealous with special effects. For all three movies, not one scene existed that didn't involve CGI (something Lucas was proud of).

But if you look at a classic adventure movie such as Raiders of the Lost Ark or, heck, Lawrence of Arabia, the limitation of location and camera capability forced the directors to come up with very creative solutions to problems otherwise fixed by CGI.

A lot of movies have successfully balanced CGI with "reality." I absolutely love the Pirates of the Carribean series. And I equally love the first Jurassic Park. I even really enjoy the Star Wars Special Edition Trilogy. But some studios need to understand now, that CGI doesn't = awesome movie. In most instances, it's just annoying. Spider Man, for example: I would love the movies so much more without the fake-lookin' rubbery CGI spidey leaping around. Just get a stunt double and some rope....
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: BathTub on December 20, 2006, 10:16:58 AM

Peter Jackson's LOTR was pretty, but sometimes just...too much. When the camera flies from someone's left nostril to the top of a million-foot-high cgi construct of Orthanc into a moth's rectum, it just kills any believability.
Essentially, I'd like CGI to be able to be mistaken for model-work. That's my ideal version.

I think Orthanc was actually done with model work.

It was, there was heaps of model-work in LOTR in fact pretty much all those towers and cities were what they labled Bigatures because they were physically huge.

Like with the Superman/Eye thing there are times and people who just can't make the disconnect and have to go 'oh that's so fake' even though there is nothing wrong with the effects, its just that people know the situation is fake and reject it.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Pak-Man on December 20, 2006, 10:23:25 AM
But a lot of Spiderman is possible only with CGI. I'd hate to see a Spiderman movie made before 1990. Spidey's gonna look fake either way, and CGI pulls it off more convincingly than matting and strings. Plus you get stunts and acrobatics that Spidey's supposed to be able to do that a stuntman and/or martial artist couldn't pull off.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: mrbasehart on December 20, 2006, 11:21:47 AM
But a lot of Spiderman is possible only with CGI. I'd hate to see a Spiderman movie made before 1990. Spidey's gonna look fake either way, and CGI pulls it off more convincingly than matting and strings. Plus you get stunts and acrobatics that Spidey's supposed to be able to do that a stuntman and/or martial artist couldn't pull off.

You never saw the extremely crappy series made in the 70's?
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Pak-Man on December 20, 2006, 11:38:34 AM
No. I saw it. And I think it proves my point nicely. :^)
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Tyrant on December 20, 2006, 01:04:58 PM

   I'm with the majority here when it comes to CGI being used as a tool only when all other modern day special effects techiques won't fit the bill, and only then.


   What's getting under my grill way more, however, are these lame CGI 'cartoon' movies coming out that are CGI for no reason other than it's 1) cheaper and 2) faster to produce than traditional cel animation. PIXAR is the only company that has gotten it right because they know their storylines simply wouldn't have enough 'oomph' with traditional animation. But I've seen numerous other movies from different studios that are obviously CGI because it's cool and fast, no other reason.

   And normally I could just avoid the whole shebang except that cel animation has fallen by the wayside in this huge CGI orgy. I know PIXAR seems to be, ironically, the one that will bring it back (I hope), but to see one art medium completely demolish another one (more cherished) is a bit disturbing and not the least bit annoying.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: kodiakthejuggler on December 20, 2006, 01:16:06 PM
these lame CGI 'cartoon' movies coming out that are CGI for no reason other than it's 1) cheaper and 2) faster to produce than traditional cel animation.

Faster to produce, maybe...

Cheaper??

Not necessarily. Computer Animation is terribly expensive, and nowadays, there's so much of it, that in order to stand out, the producers of the newest animated feature have to create some form of technological leap to stay ahead of the pack. It's just the in thing right now, and a Computer Animated feature is more likely to make money.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: J-Proof on December 20, 2006, 01:28:53 PM
these lame CGI 'cartoon' movies coming out that are CGI for no reason other than it's 1) cheaper and 2) faster to produce than traditional cel animation.

Faster to produce, maybe...

Cheaper??

Not necessarily. Computer Animation is terribly expensive, and nowadays, there's so much of it, that in order to stand out, the producers of the newest animated feature have to create some form of technological leap to stay ahead of the pack. It's just the in thing right now, and a Computer Animated feature is more likely to make money.

Cel animation is more expensive because more of it needs to be outsourced, and the pre production is so dang long. However, both mediums take about the same amount of time to complete overall.

The most expensive feature cartoon ever made, with inflation considered, is Pinnochio. Probably will stay pinnochio until someone invents something even more hi-tech-crazy than cgi cartoons. Pinnochio required the invention of almost every animated camera technique available.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Nunyerbiz on December 20, 2006, 08:38:59 PM

I have no problem with CGI effects, but like any other aspect of a movie, it's jarring and ultimately unsatisfying when something becomes gratuitous. The Superman Returns / bullet to the eyeball is a good example. Everybody knows Superman is bulletproof, the Man of Steel, etc. We've seen bullets bounce off him countless times in comics, cartoons, movies, etc. Was anybody amazed to find out that his eyeball wasn't his achilles heel? I'm not saying shots showing off Superman's already well known abilities are all pointless, but a little restraint goes a long way.

Title: Re: CGI
Post by: mydrumsaresick on December 20, 2006, 09:17:32 PM
My brother in law's cousin own a CGI company called Zoic. They do all the CG for Buffy, Angel, Firefly, The HP commerical where the guys face sticks to the picture. They did Serenity and parts of Spiderman 2 and The day after tomorrow. its cool being in the studio and watch what they do. they guys work their ass off and yet even at moments I'm not to impressed but then again they still can only do so much. all in all I'm happy with the progress CGI is at.
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: EVOLUTION117 on December 21, 2006, 09:55:51 AM
p.s. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the future, I'm surprised @ how many people haven't seen it yet?!

Well you have redeemed yourself in my eyes Minnesota.  I am now once again proud to live in you.  Advent Children is amazing.  I wish they would have released it in theaters. 

Yes, Advent Children is an amazing movie, but even something so amazing can be improved upon with the right material.  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw)
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: Variety of Cells on December 21, 2006, 10:55:30 AM
p.s. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the future, I'm surprised @ how many people haven't seen it yet?!

Well you have redeemed yourself in my eyes Minnesota.  I am now once again proud to live in you.  Advent Children is amazing.  I wish they would have released it in theaters. 

Yes, Advent Children is an amazing movie, but even something so amazing can be improved upon with the right material.  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw)

That, was absolutely amazing.  It made this rainy day here in Minnesota magically turn sunny. 
Title: Re: CGI
Post by: kodiakthejuggler on December 21, 2006, 11:15:31 AM
p.s. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the future, I'm surprised @ how many people haven't seen it yet?!

Well you have redeemed yourself in my eyes Minnesota.  I am now once again proud to live in you.  Advent Children is amazing.  I wish they would have released it in theaters. 

Yes, Advent Children is an amazing movie, but even something so amazing can be improved upon with the right material.  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3Zj4Pilkw)

It's even more amazing that they can manage to make the MST3K audio synch up terrifically with the video!!

Did DisembAudio have a hand in this one?!?

 ;)