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Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

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Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Old 05-24-17, 08:20 PM
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Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I'm not going to sit here and say I don't love the CGI of today's blockbusters, but I always think in the back of my head that all the visuals, the scenes and yes, now, even the actors are all fake. I mean a virtual Peter Cushing for more than a few seconds and with dialogue is insane.

But, then you have the crapfests like Resident Evil: The Final Chapter where you can't even tell if the actors are real. I mean Milla Jovovich zip lining through fire? That was so terrible. Not one thing about a movie like that this is practical. And it makes me sad and usually takes me right out of it.

But, I can't help think that we will rarely see any blockbusters without the use of CGI anymore. They are just rare nowadays and it's too damn bad. King Kong (33) still holds up because it was all practical effects. The original Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, every Harryhausen, fucking all those big ones with not a single use of CGI. Classics each and every one. We'll never have that again.

I mean when it's done well (CGI) it's good. Guardians is a good example since most was CG. And when it's done bad, it's purposeful and takes you right out even if modicum of good story which is not usually likely.

Of course, story has something to do with enjoyment of newer movies, but to most it's about the effects.

So even though we won't see the greats of old, we adjust and accept the effects of today.

But, if you had to choose, do you prefer practical or CGI?
Old 05-24-17, 08:35 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I realize CGI has reached levels where it really looks good compared to the 90s when CGI was starting to be used a lot more when it really shouldn't have been but call me old fashioned when I say practical effects still looks better the vast majority of the time. CGI should only be used to enhance the practical effects and be used a limited amount.

Occasionally my opinion is proven wrong when I see "making of..." docs that show CGI use that totally surprises me. David Fincher is great at using CGI and movies like Gravity make me realize that CGI when done right has a place in films.
Old 05-24-17, 08:37 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I think the problem with CGI is that the technology is so easily available to effects artists with limited talent and artistic vision. I think with practical effects, there was more of a sense of spending years learning the craft.

Of course, you could also argue that there were a plethora of movies with crappy practical effects--but IMO, crappy practical effects can still have a charm of their own, but crappy CGI effects almost never do.
Old 05-24-17, 08:43 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Eh, depends.
Old 05-24-17, 08:52 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Practical effects.

It's why I enjoyed the LOTR trilogy and not The Hobbit trilogy as much. Sure LOTR used CGI, but the on-set real locations were a nice touch to have.
Old 05-24-17, 08:55 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Not picking one over the other, since both have their place. There's so many things that CGI can do that is basically impossible with practical effects, and there's also so many instances where settings, backgrounds or props are CGI and most people don't even notice it.

Bad CGI seems to stand out more for people, but there's so many bad practical effects in old movies that people seem to be less critical of.
Old 05-24-17, 09:02 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

There are some effects that wouldn't be possible without CGI. There, of course, is a greater appreciation of practical.

Any effect, done badly, really sucks. A great effect is a great effect, no matter which type. It just all depends...so, you're high again.
Old 05-24-17, 09:42 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

CGI is the death of cinema. Practical.
Old 05-24-17, 09:43 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Computers should be used to enhance, not entirely replace.
Old 05-24-17, 10:11 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

There will come a time when computer generated effects won't have to be brown and gray with flat lighting. That time isn't here yet. Until then, I prefer practical.

Lord of the Rings


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Non-CGI movies can look like this:

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WGQetcm_dQE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Last edited by Nick Danger; 05-24-17 at 10:24 PM.
Old 05-24-17, 10:44 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Originally Posted by E Unit
Eh, depends.
This exactly.
Old 05-25-17, 08:38 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Practical

CGI is overused for every little thing resulting in incompetent filmmaking.

6 Reasons Modern Movie CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy

Opinion: 10 Reasons Why CGI is Getting Worse, Not Better
Old 05-25-17, 08:46 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

CGI should be used to only enhance a movie, no overwhelm it. T2 is a perfect example where CGI enhances the movie with Robert Patrick's T-1000 character.

The result of CGI is the death of Summer Blockbusters because they don't care about story and characters anymore as it's all about big CGI action pieces to wow the fans. But I do blame the fans who continue to goto these CGI movies because they make a lot of money, so Hollywood won't stop making them.
Old 05-25-17, 08:54 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I don't mind the color grading as much as most people here, in fact I rather like it, but I do feel like the masturbatory free pass it grants directors does hurt movies. As in one of those articles Inri posted, you completely lose that sense of wonder -- things go from being "This is something spectacular!" to "Oh look, more splosions". The characters have no sense of awe left, and neither does the audience.

It's one of the reasons I actually enjoyed Midnight Special, for all its flaws, there's a nice sense of wonder to it at times.
Old 05-25-17, 09:07 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I like this video which explains that the problem isn't CGI, but bad CGI.


I feel people tend to forget that there's tons of films with crappy practical effects. The difference is that if a practical effect is bad, people don't bad mouth all practical effects as a result.


I also like this VFX breakdown from Wolf of Wall Street, that shows how a lot of "everyday" environments in that film were actually a mix of CGI and digitally manipulated elements.


I watched Boxtrolls recently, and there's a ballroom scene in that film with a lot of characters dancing. After watching the behind-the-scenes on the Blu-ray, they reveal that only the "hero" characters in that scene were stop-motion puppets; the rest were CGI. The effect in the film though is seamless; the CGI character look just like they're stop-motion.

I couldn't find the Blu-ray feature online, but I found this other video where they mention this at about the 36 minute mark:
Old 05-25-17, 09:21 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Originally Posted by OldBoy
King Kong (33) still holds up because it was all practical effects...
Well, I'm not sure "holds up" is a good description of the original King Kong effects. I mean, they're amazing and interesting and full of character, but they're not realistic. Nobody nowadays is fooled into thinking that's a real giant gorilla.

Originally Posted by OldBoy
The original Star Wars... not a single use of CGI.
I think you're forgetting the Death Star plans briefing scene:
Old 05-25-17, 09:22 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Until CGI can replicate the realism and intricacy of Octaman or a jellyfish monster, I will have to pick practical.


Old 05-25-17, 09:40 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

From what I've heard, the practical xenomorphs in the first two Alien films which are over 30 years old, look better than the CGI ones in Covenant.
Old 05-25-17, 11:06 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Fincher uses a lot of CGI but not many notice it.
Old 05-25-17, 11:18 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Originally Posted by TomOpus
Fincher uses a lot of CGI but not many notice it.
A breakdown of some SFX from Gone Girl:

Zodiac used CGI to recreate its period setting, but also to do things like some pretty effective blood splatter.


I feel like if I had to "Sophie's Choice" between CGI and practical, I'd choose well done CGI, because practical is just too limiting; there are simply some things you can't do with practical, while with CGI it's mostly a question of doing it well.

Of course, the best option is for filmmakers to use the best tool for the job. Sometime's that's practical, if for no other reason than it may be cheaper than doing the effect digitally in a realistic way.

I mean, look at Guardians of the Galaxy, where two members of the team are CGI, but another two are makeup effects (maybe more than two, depending on who you count as part of the team in the sequel).
Old 05-25-17, 11:58 AM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

I feel like people are naturally more willing to accept bad practical effects, because in the end it's still an actual physical object that exists and has weight and depth, even if it looks hokey. Bad CGI on the other hand stands out more when it looks unnatural or stands out next to real actors.

For me, an actor wearing a bad monster or alien costume looks just as bad as a bad CGI character, but maybe decades of video games contributes to that
Old 05-25-17, 01:06 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Old 05-25-17, 01:10 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Old 05-25-17, 01:24 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

Yeah it depends. If it's good I'll like it. Bad Practical fx can be kinda fun at times. But bad CGI can often take me right out of a film.
Old 05-25-17, 01:36 PM
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Re: Practical or CGI...when it comes to effects?

If an effect can be done practically and look good that's always my choice but certain things make more sense to use CG for.

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