Movie scenes before CGI effects often look very odd and ridiculous

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Did anyone else read this title and think the reference was to something like this:


I went on a tour Phil Tippett studios (who did the Twilight Saga effects among many others) a few years back.

Apparently the hardest part of doing that werewolf scene was that the cameraman kept framing the shot around the human actors instead of accounting for where the giant wolf was going to be. It makes a lot more sense to use stand-ins (either props or actors) if you can get something that’s approximately the same size as the CGI creature which is going to be in the final scene.


That is fascinating.

I feel like CGI used to be for things it would be hard to imagine how you would film. A giant fortress, a fleet of spaceships passing overhead, a dragon. Or maybe that’s just what I used to think it was for.

So many of those were using CGI for totally commonplace stuff, where it’s obvious how to film it - bring cast and crew to the place where it is, and film. A river, a restaurant, a street with a bus stop and apartment buildings, a ferry boat deck.


What Sort of Man Reads Boing Boing?


The cost of CGI apparently went down so much it makes such substitutions cost-effective.

…on a side note, I love the scene of the dragon being petted…


It can actually be much more complicated and expensive to shoot those kind of scenes on location than to do it against a green screen and drop in the background later.

Consider something mundane like two characters having a brief conversation in front of a courthouse for an episode of a legal drama. If you shoot on location you have to arrange permits, mark off the area for shooting, control for sound and lighting, transport a whole cast and crew and hope that the weather cooperates. But if you shoot against a green screen you can get the same shot for a fraction of the cost.


Am I the only one absolutely sick of CGI?


Depends on the quality. When it’s badly done it makes a movie look like one long video game cutscene (think Gods of Egypt). When it’s well done you likely don’t even realize it’s there (for example, I don’t recall anyone complaining about all the CGI in Law & Order.)


If is hard for me to believe that an actor is not affected by their environment. That is, all other things being equal, you will get a better performance when you have actual scenery (and other actors) to act against.
I would imagine that that goes for the director, DP etc.
might explain how sterile the first the Star Wars movies were, being all green screen.
maybe I’m just a Luddite.

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Depends on the actor. Pretending that a tennis ball on a stick is a monster is just a little further along on the acting scale than pretending the person pointing a gun at you is really trying to kill you.


Sure, but there’s a big difference between “imagine that instead of standing in a featureless soundstage, you’re actually running across an alien desert being pursued by an army of cyborgs” and “imagine that instead of having a conversation in front of this green column you’re actually having a conversation in front of a marble facade.”


And sometimes you cannot get the permits.

I think it was The Da Vinci Code or its sequel where the Vatican denied permits to shoot in their facilities. So the crew sent “tourists” who took a lot of photos and videos, which then were used to computer-model said facilities.

Permits? Who needs your stinkin’ permits when we got computers?


I remember reading a story about Neil Gaiman working on the movie MirrorMask and working with the directors and FX crew. He was a little surprised at how much things cost; when he proposed a simple scene of kids in a classroom, he was told it was way too expensive: they’d need to rent the school or build the set, cast 30 kids, dress the set, etc. So a few days later he was looking despondent and they said “what?” and he said “well I want to do this effect where we crumble the earth like a cookie, but I know it’s way out of our budget,” and the FX guys laughed and explained that they could do that in a few hours for the price of a sandwich, using CGI.


“Zentai-suited weirdos and absolute-literalists” is a reasonable condensation.


#Betteridge’s Law of Comments?

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That’s not acting, then.

An actor is a person who makes human reactions believable in the midst of the non-human unbelievable. A stage-set with real grass and real trees breaks everything apart, and throws shade on the craft. If an actor needs a naturalistic environment in which to act – they aren’t an actor.


Can you? Is 3D CGI that easy now, or do they pay animators that little?

Yes and no. I personally wish to return to more believable action that doesn’t require CGI. Done RIGHT, however, it is still a good thing. The best CGI is the stuff you don’t notice. Even the newest Mad Max used a lot of practical effect, still used CGI to further dress things up.


If you were being directed by Werner Herzog, believing that the guy with the gun was going to shoot you might be an awful lot easier.


So I guess GoT is more just Tits and Green Screen, in reality, eh?