John Lewis - The Bear and Hare - 2013 Seasonal CGI Amazing coloured pencil drawings Tokyo City Symphony Luis Nieves - Baywood Red Light

3 July 2012

Is CGI ruining cinema?

Hi everyone,

Having recently been to see the movie Prometheus, I have decided to somewhat voice my opinions on a controversial subject which I believe in strongly and would like to know your points of view.

Having worked in various facets of the CGI industry ranging from games design to interior 3D visualisation, I have finally come to the belief that CGI in movies is slowly destroying the industry. My career has always been in CGI in some way or other and it is always what I have been most passionate about. Unfortunately I do think that is it being over-used or not used correctly by the vast majority of movies at the moment.

Close-up image of an Alien from the movie Aliens

Gone are the days of classic movie storylines such as Apocalypse Now or the original Alien movies (well, 1 and 2 anyway) and even the brilliant Blade Runner. A vast majority of the budget of a movie is now being invested in the visual effects as opposed to more important areas such as telling a good story or building an emotional attachment to the scenes and people in the movie.

image of Yoda - Starwars Return of the Jedi

Many people will argue that CGI has enhanced the movie-goers experience by more realistically immersing them into a movie. I agree more than anyone that CGI has its place in cinema and is a complete necessity now. It allows us to create and portray visual aspects of a movie which are simply impossible without it. The problem is that it needs to be used wisely and in the right places. Take, for example, the recent movie Prometheus (don't worry there are no plot spoilers for those of you who haven't seen it) compared to its classic counterpart Alien or Aliens even. The mood and atmosphere that Ridley Scott achieved in the previous films vastly surpasses that has been achieved in his most recent work. The look of CGI is in no way a replacement for an actual scene or a physical entity sharing the screen with the actors. The original aliens had a real physical presence and you could literally feel them sneaking up behind the characters in the movie. This was because it was all created through clever use of prosthetics and make-up and actual people wearing alien suits etc. In recent movies, the CGI characters just don't embody anywhere near the same feel of actually being in the scene. I don't think it is down to the skill of the CGI artists at all as they are amazing at what they do. I just believe that there is no replacement for an actual being, as it were, sharing the camera with the actors in a movie.

Image of a newly "born" alien infant from the Alien saga of movies

One consequence of the above issue is that the acting of the main characters in a film is also compromised. When face to face with an actual Alien or creature, the actors in a movie are much more convincing in what they are trying to portray. However, when they are simply in front of a green screen with nothing more than a little guidance, it must be much harder for them to come across as believable. 

Shot of the model of the Blade Runner city

The truth is that in today's cinema experience, there aren't many new and fresh ideas. Originality has all but left the minds of most movie writers these days and the fact that so much focus is put on the visual impact of a film is just making this situation worse. We are in need of original and engaging stories that rely more on the characters and plot than just wowing us with amazing effects.

Image of the alien creature from the 80's movie - Predator

Another problem is the way the critics are assessing and reviewing films at the moment. They are simply reinforcing this false economy by evaluating movies based greatly on their visual impact alone. How amazing the CGI is plays a very large part of how good a rating a movie gets these days and that simply shouldn't be the case.

Image of the Alien from the Alien Saga of movies

As a closing note, think back to movies with little to no CGI intervention. Terminator, Dog Soldiers, Alien/Aliens, Predator, Jacob's Ladder, Blade Runner etc... The list goes on and on. One thing you will notice is that these are not massively recent films. The above obviously have visual effects which are a requirement of every movie really. What they don't have is an over use and reliance on virtual characters or virtual scenes and such to portray the atmosphere of the film. This is how movies should be made, to engage us and draw us into the story, while the visual aspect should aid in keeping us there.

Image of the Robot from Terminator

I am very interested in hearing your comments and points of view on this discussion and thanks for reading.

3D & Media

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for submitting a comment. Don't forget to visit www.sovibrant.co.uk to learn more about our work.