Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on CGI

I don't have much to say about entertainment right now. A: because most of my entertainment comes from the internet, and if you know me, you already know the people I am watching online. And I haven't watched the Castle premier yet.

I did want to talk a little about CGI, based on a conversation Greg and I had the other day. I hold the belief that, while CGI can enhance film, it has made some directors really lazy, and given others access to tools they shouldn't have. (I'm looking at you, George Lucas.)

One of the reasons that movies like Star Trek (the movie alternate timeline) and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogies work is because that they use a lot of practical effects. Many of the size tricks were done with perception, the use of little people and children as well as the use of tall people. They made two different sized items of nearly everything, a hobbit-sized one and a human-sized one. In Star Trek, the space jumping (parachuting) scene was done with the characters standing on a mirror. Oldies but goodies.

But CGI has created a battle call for certain directors, and that call is "We'll fix it in post." Occasionally, this is warranted. Everyone's been working long hours, you've got a shot that will almost work and another shot will break someone's patience, nothing has been as good as the first. But mostly it's people who are under a time crunch and won't slow down to get the scene right.

Also, let's talk about CGI blood. Here's what I have to say: No. Just no. It doesn't look real. It looks fake. And I realize that fake blood looks fake, but it also looks like it's actually there. No matter what you do, and how artfully you work it, the acting is never as good when you're reacting to something that is not there. (See: New Star Wars Movies.) Some actors can work around this, but it's a lot to ask. Watch the extra features to any movie that involves CGI characters, and you'll hear the actors talk about how hard it was. Sometimes they feel a little goofy saying it, but it doesn't get any easier. And also: fake blood is cheap. People with the lowest of budgets can get and make it. It is actual red fluid. Squirt it on your walls/actors/weapons/whatever.

Rant over.