Thursday, October 23, 2003

Movie CGI

I think that the overuse of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) is killing the modern movie.

Directors without any real vision think that computers can replace talent, skill, and creativity. It is my option that the more computer generated scenes a film contains, the less an audience is able to connect or relate to the story.

The two Star Wars prequels are perfect examples of this. These were filmed nearly entirely on green screens - and it shows. They lack the heart and the grittiness that the originals possessed. They seem empty and lifeless, and boil down to being one spectacular effect after another.

Jurassic Park, which is over ten years old now - and the first movie to extensively use CGI, is one of the few films that got it right. The story took center stage, and the dinosaurs were simply part of the cast of characters.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy also has managed to dodge the bullet (sorry about the Matrix pun) of overdone effects. The key with these movies is their use of CGI, it was employed as an aid to tell the story and was not the dominating aspect of the films. The outstanding aspect in these movies are not the computer generated battles, but the real detail that was employed on the sets. Each set was painstakingly recreated from the books and contains so much detail that much of it can't even be seen on camera. By creating a believable and immersive universe, the CGI can be used as part of the story and does not stand out like a sore thumb.

The Matrix movies hold a special place in my heart. While they use probably as much CGI as the Star Wars movies, it fits within the atmosphere that has been created. The story is set inside a computer, so to use computer generated effects seems fitting. The technology in this sense takes center stage, and I am all for it - the movie is about technology.

Computers should not be used as the main vehicle for storytelling - they should be used as a supplement. It is the only way to keep movies real, believable, and most importantly - enjoyable.


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