Computer Effects have always been a staple of cinema. In the 60s, several independent films gave a shot at producing realistic monsters and effects. When Star Wars came about in the 70s people were spellbound by the Lasers and Lightsabers and all the other goodies George Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic brought us. Since then CGI has taken cinema to new worlds and shown us new events that we could only dream of.
Perhaps the greatest advancement in the world of film in recent years has been the improvements made to Computer Generated Images. Michael Bay has stood atop the box office with a money net almost entirely on the basis that he can bring an extravaganza of special effects to his films. James Cameron gave grace and nightmarish detail to the sinking of the Titanic and lush and spellbinding beauty to the world of Pandora in Avatar. George Lucas himself crafted hectic space dogfights and battles within ruined cities when he returned to the Star Wars universe. The last ten years have hosted some of the greatest CGI achievements imaginable, and the world of film would be a lot worse off without it.
However, despite all of this, there are moments where CGI has left us dumbstruck by how unconvincing it is, or how it recklessly ignores physics or biology in an attempt to include something massively above budget or belief. There are a few trends emerging with CGI that need to be put to rest. Admittedly some of these are down to technology not being up to the speed demanded by the filmmakers, but in these cases surely an alternate method could be employed? Perhaps replace the jerky 2D monster with a good old fashioned prop?
When CGI is high quality and believable, it is remarkable; when it isn’t, it drags you right out of the movie you are watching. Perhaps future big budget endeavours will learn from these lessons.
This article was first posted on May 17, 2013