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Offline Variety of Cells

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CGI
« 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?


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: CGI
« Reply #1 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.


Offline kodiakthejuggler

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Re: CGI
« Reply #2 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.


Offline Joe Don Faker

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Re: CGI
« Reply #3 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... ;)


Offline Petey Wheatstraw

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Re: CGI
« Reply #4 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.
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Offline Sharktopus

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Re: CGI
« Reply #5 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.


Offline gammer

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Re: CGI
« Reply #6 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!


Offline Grillslinger

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Re: CGI
« Reply #7 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.



Offline Tarantulas

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Re: CGI
« Reply #8 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! ;)


Offline Sharktopus

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Re: CGI
« Reply #9 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?


Offline SmilinJackRoss

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Re: CGI
« Reply #10 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.
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Offline Grillslinger

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Re: CGI
« Reply #11 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.



Offline Petey Wheatstraw

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Re: CGI
« Reply #12 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.
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Offline Shinigami

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Re: CGI
« Reply #13 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!!


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Re: CGI
« Reply #14 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.