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Special Effects/Makeup vs. CGI

Old 04-11-06, 06:36 PM
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Special Effects/Makeup vs. CGI

I was watching An American Werewolf in London (again) last night. Of course, most of you know how spectacular the special effects/makeup is. I also watched the Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns discussion with John Carpenter where different folks talked about the special effects/makeup in that movie.

Here's the point: Maybe it's my age, but am I alone in feeling like CGI and computers have hurt the movie industry in general? It seems to me that anything that has to be done creatively nowadays can just be done with expensive software and a director can just turn over chunks of a movie to his computer nerds to "make it look real". I just feel like a massive amount of creativity is lost with new technology. I personally loved watching the conversation with John Landis where he discusses how he wanted to show the complete transformation of a man to a werewolf: "I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew what I wanted it to look like".

Doesn't it seem like today a director says "I don't know how we can make this look real, so turn it over to the computer guys and have them show it to me when it's done".

Of course, CGI has it's place, but I actually prefer the space battles in the original SW movies to the new ones. I have an immense amount of respect for makeup/effects guys (a dying breed?), but I don't have the same kind of respect for the computer guys.

Am I all alone out here?

/rant off
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Old 04-11-06, 06:42 PM
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I'll be the first jerk to point out that there were more models in each one of the SW prequels than there were in the whole of the classic trilogy..., and I don't think the prequels failings are purely the fault of the CGI.

As for your main argument, I think that (as long as CGI has been around), it's still relatively young. There are films where CGI has been used and I didn't realize it until after watching some behind the scenes materials. That's where the strength of any FX lies, where you don't even see it.

As computing power increases, the quality of the work will increase, to a point where it will be seamless, and filmmakers will understand how to use it to it's best effect.

Last edited by milo bloom; 04-11-06 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 04-11-06, 07:06 PM
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There's a point where both should co-exist in a film.. Look at Jurassic Park as an example of where practical and cg effects for the T-Rex work and blend well within the confines of the story. Spielberg realized that he could make the model T-Rex move the way he wanted to .. and Tippett showed him his cgi one.

The problem is the time frame. And Spielberg already had nightmares with Bruce the shark... he's a stickler for delivering on time now because of it. I'm not saying however, that CG is any faster.. due to the R&D needed for things, but CG has come a long way in a reasonably short amount of time.

Last edited by devilshalo; 04-11-06 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 04-11-06, 07:25 PM
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I hate CGI.

Subtle uses of it are fine, but when it gets to the point where nearly every scene is all CGI, it's annoying.

I just prefer the make-up/animatronics.

CGI is just lazy.

Three different points!
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Old 04-11-06, 08:02 PM
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Oh Lord, another "CGI sucks" thread. We average once of these every two weeks around here, and they all are about the same. First there is the typical bashing of CGI, followed by the high praise of effects techniques of the past, which are if not more flawed, yet are still in use today.

All I'll say is this. CG is a tool that has opened up the palette for directors. No longer are they limited by their imagination. They can achieve any vision they have, because of CG. CG is fanastic tool. CGI and computers have in no way hurt the film industry. They have helped the industry immensely. If you have a problem with the CG use today, don't blame the tool, blame the filmmaker who uses the tool.

I shudder to think about Jurassic Park being done solely with stop motion.

Spielberg realized that he could make the model T-Rex move the way he wanted to .. and Tippett showed him his cgi one.
Actually, Tippett was working on the stop-motion, until ILM displayed their CG creations to Spielberg. That pretty much killed Tippett's work on the project. Stan Winston did the animatronic T-Rex, which was limited to close up shots of the head and shoulders.

Last edited by Terrell; 04-11-06 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:13 PM
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Meh, they aren't REAL special effects unless they're done in-camera. Anything else is just cheating. Give me Melies or give me death!
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Old 04-11-06, 10:18 PM
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It really depends on the implementation. Watch the CGI in Master & Commander and then watch it in Van Helsing. It's 2 very different things. It's a shame that more directors are perfectionists and give the ok for horrible CGI shots on $100 million + budget films.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:27 PM
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I still prefer special effects that exist in real time and space that the actors can interact with. I don't care how many millions Lucas can throw around, it still looked obvious that Natalie Portman was dancing with herself in the droid factory in Clones. Sure, all of the sweeping battle shots looked cool in Lord of the Rings, but they didn't look....real. Having said that, King Kong was a step further, but the running scene--again, it didn't look like the actors were running in time and space with the dinosaurs. And the insects on Adrien Brody...I almost bought it, but it just didn't look real enough.
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Old 04-11-06, 11:08 PM
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I can't stand CGI. Give me a gear-filled, rubber, saliva dripping, Winston monster anyday.
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Old 04-11-06, 11:34 PM
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Model Spaceships + CGI space = fine by me. The two can co-exsist.

I'm ok with CG as long as i cannot tell it's being used. Which is the mark of *ANY* great special effects.

However CGI needs to grow to a point where objects lose that glossy/plastic sheen that seems to be on alot of CGI things.

I must say that "Godzilla: Final Wars" showed us what was better, rubbersuit or CGI lizard.
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Old 04-12-06, 12:16 AM
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I still prefer special effects that exist in real time and space that the actors can interact with. I don't care how many millions Lucas can throw around, it still looked obvious that Natalie Portman was dancing with herself in the droid factory in Clones. Sure, all of the sweeping battle shots looked cool in Lord of the Rings, but they didn't look....real. Having said that, King Kong was a step further, but the running scene--again, it didn't look like the actors were running in time and space with the dinosaurs. And the insects on Adrien Brody...I almost bought it, but it just didn't look real enough.
....and neither did Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion dinosaurs or terrible optical compositing of days gone by, but I didn't hear people whining about that. It's all in how the tool is used.

What you're essentially saying is you want filmmakers to create your vision, your way, instead of their own vision? I'd recommend you get an imagination, or create your own film!
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Old 04-12-06, 01:06 AM
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I will reiterate to say that CGI is definately a tool that can be wielded well or not well. People tend to remember the best of what the older techniques were able to do.

Anyone who thinks that CGI is a lazy way of doing things really has no experience whatsoever with doing anything on the computer besides email. Graphic editing of any kind is a very time consuming and laborious process. I think it is still amazing how people are so ignorant about technology. It seems like people think that there is just some button in a program that says "Make King Kong climb". Just because you don't understand the process doesn't mean you can disrespect the work that people do. If you don't like it then fine, but at least have respect for the incredible work that goes into all of these effects.
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Old 04-12-06, 05:01 AM
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What we need is someone who can describe how people felt when special effects were first being used at all. Stop motion, animatronics, green screen/projections. I'm sure all of those were once frowned upon.

CGI is still relatively new. Sometimes, it's used to great effect. Unfortunately, quite often, it detracts from the movie. Everything listed above did as well at some point.
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Old 04-12-06, 07:11 AM
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It doesn't really matter to me if the fx is good. I've see good and bad with both methods.
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Old 04-12-06, 09:45 AM
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IMO (So I'm not talking on anyone elses part) CGI killed the action film.

Even stuff like full length sets where rendured useless because of it. I just think that certain directors (Lucas & Peter Jackson) over-use it.

I like the stuntman and the full feature sets with real props!

IMO.
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Old 04-12-06, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by T1000
IMO (So I'm not talking on anyone elses part) CGI killed the action film.

Even stuff like full length sets where rendured useless because of it. I just think that certain directors (Lucas & Peter Jackson) over-use it.

I like the stuntman and the full feature sets with real props!

IMO.
Isn't that a bit ironic considering your forum name?
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Old 04-12-06, 10:31 AM
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Look, I'm not saying the CGI doesn't have its place - for instance - Land of the Dead had a cool extra that showed how the created the ruined city with CG, but it blended extremely well. But I agree with the earlier post about King Kong. The actual ape (Kong, not Jack Black) looked fantastic. However, the scene where they were running with the dinos looked like actors running on a blue screen, looking over their shoulders and pretending to see dinosaurs. I find it interesting that blue screen technology really isn't that much better looking than it was 25 or more years ago.

CG is a valuable tool, no doubt whatsoever. But I think the craft of special effects and makeup is slowing dying at the expense of CG. I wonder if they'll just digitally alter Harrison Ford's face to make him look 35 for the new Indy movie.

In all seriousness, I loved An American Werewolf in London. I especially enjoyed watching how they made the wolf with animitronics. Yes, you only saw the front-half most of the time, but it was just those little glimpses that increase your terror and/or anxiety. But maybe I'm just an old fart...
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Old 04-12-06, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by fumanstan
Isn't that a bit ironic considering your forum name?
Robert Patrick was taken

In all seriousness though, T2 used very little CGI. For instance, all liquid shots of the T1000 where CGI. The scenes where his wounds heal, where CGI, but the process of putting the wounds on him (the silver holes) was real.

Everything else was make-up/animatronics.

The scene with Arnie walking into a barrage of bullets for example. Just a life-size model of Arnie. His damage was all make-up aswell.

Unlike in T3 where he just wears a blue screen on his face. Even some of the fights scene where CGI, which just wrong. Since it's a sci-fi action.
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Old 04-12-06, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by MartinBlank
I can't stand CGI. Give me a gear-filled, rubber, saliva dripping, Winston monster anyday.
Screw that. Harryhausen is where it's at.
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Old 04-12-06, 11:41 AM
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I think it should be depended on what is wanted and the best possible way to achieve that. Like a horror film works so much better with Makeup FX than CGI, but a film like Spiderman 3 might be best with CGI.

Actually, I think CGI works better when it is used to compliment an existing FX, like Jurassic Park (CGI with animatronics). CGI I think is a stupid tool for cartoons. While Pixar does good things, it still comes down to story instead of visual gags, like recent efforts.
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Old 04-12-06, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Terrell
What you're essentially saying is you want filmmakers to create your vision, your way, instead of their own vision? I'd recommend you get an imagination, or create your own film!
Excuse me, but what the hell is this crap?! So I have an opinion, and having an opinion equals dictating official policy? So what about everybody else on this goddamn board?

And my point was about fx for things that are supposed to be interacting with the actors. Jar-Jar Binks, for example; it was painfully obvious that the actors were in reality interacting with nothing.

On second thought, forget it: ALL HAIL CGI
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Old 04-12-06, 03:17 PM
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I don't mind CGI.

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Old 04-12-06, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Egon's Ghost
And my point was about fx for things that are supposed to be interacting with the actors. Jar-Jar Binks, for example; it was painfully obvious that the actors were in reality interacting with nothing.
However, Kong was a perfect example of how well it can be done. There will always be good and bad examples.

And in reality, Jar Jar was really Ahmed Best walking around in the suit only to be later replaced by CG. So the actor's are not really reacting to nothing. Just acting badly.
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Old 04-12-06, 04:08 PM
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I am going to school for Computer animation, its somethig I love but even though I love it I perfer old fasioned visual effects from movies like all the old monster movies from the 50's 60's etc. I pefer the visual effects of the old star wars to the new ones. The new ones have no texture and just doesnt feel real used. I like cgi when its needed like king kong, where its not full cgi, where the use sets and composite effects in them, Star wars pequels dont work cause its all cgi. some work like Sin city but thats cause of the style. Theres alot of cgi in films you would never know, if its just changing the clouds in the sky, adding buildings etc.
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Old 04-12-06, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by devilshalo
However, Kong was a perfect example of how well it can be done. There will always be good and bad examples.

And in reality, Jar Jar was really Ahmed Best walking around in the suit only to be later replaced by CG. So the actor's are not really reacting to nothing. Just acting badly.
King Kong was for the most part awesomely done, save a few things that I mentioned above, but those didn't detract from the movie.

And I thought that was the case with Jar Jar, but I remember (OK, it's been 7 years) thinking that Liam looked uncomfortable, like he was talking to himself, but it was probably just because he signed a contract and he couldn't get out of it. But the Star Wars prequels as a whole really have an artificial quality to them; to use the cliche, "there's no 'there' there". Watching the original trilogy sans mucking-with, where they use real sets, it feels more like real spaces inhabited by real people and objects. The new movies don't feel like that to me.

I'll try again. I think CG can be used to great effect, like Kong and War of the Worlds, if you have talented people and a large budget, but can restrain yourself. It becomes problematic to me when people don't know when to stop, and go way overboard--I'm thinking of movies like Daredevil (horrible CGI that seemed completely unnecessary, but it was truly terrible movie in any case), epic movies with CGI armies (too fake looking), and especially Ultraviolet or whatever the hell. The point I'm trying to make is in my signature.

Last edited by Egon's Ghost; 04-12-06 at 05:08 PM.
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