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lew1984

Green Screen and CGI in cinema

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Hi guys was reading an article on the internet about Sir Ian McKellen's dislike for green screen whilst filming the Hobbit and was wondering what your thoughts are on this? Do you think that too much green screen and CGI in modern films is taking the human element out of these films?

I think its important for actors to work with real surroundings and other actors on set to give a more meaningful performance, I think no matter how good an actor you are maybe there is something artificial and maybe even hollow about talking to a pole with a photo on it lol. I'm also of the opinion that CGI is relied on to heavily and prefer to see more models and real sets eg original Star Wars type stuffs rather than CGI everything, it really doesn't age well ether and find some older films look more real than newer CGI heavy films.

Not to say I dislike CGI altogether but a more balanced approach would be great like in Christopher Nolans Batman films, I would rather see CGI to augment a scene or background vistas etc.

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The Star Wars prequels were blue screen or green screen only. That gave the entire film the look of being "manufactured". The same thing can be said about the Avengers. CGI is spectacular, but still not 100% photo realistic.

At least in The Hobbit they used green screens, but with sets for the actors to anchor themselves in.

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Motion pictures are totally artificial these days. A few stage-trained actors do appear in them, but it is nothing compared to the Hollywood Hey-day. Compare, if you dare, films like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind to the "hits" that are around now. It has slid into a technical decadence and the costs are now astronomical.

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I feel like the efficacy of CGI is largely dependent on the movie being considered. For a movie like The Hobbit, bad CGI would ruin the movie. For a movie like Tron, CGI is expected and totally acceptable.

Admittedly, this is speculation on my part, but I think that Hollywood will ultimately be forced to pursue whatever manufacturing techniques produce viable movies at the lowest possible cost. DVD sales are an important part of a movie's financial success, but DVD sales are going to eventually fail as the DVD itself is slowly phased out. Movie ticket sales are another important factor, and those are slowly failing also. Hollywood needs to figure out how to crank out big budget blockbuster movies without the "big budget" part.

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And to think that films like Tron were disqualified from the academy awards because the SAG at the time considered using computers to create special effects to be cheating.

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  • Original Poster
  • And to think that films like Tron were disqualified from the academy awards because the SAG at the time considered using computers to create special effects to be cheating.

    Its funny how things change with the times lol. CGI defiantly has its place and is a viable option for creating worlds that would be otherwise impossible or impossibly expensive, SCI-FI/Fantasy films are a good example of this. And I guess with its lower costs and considering the financial climate and lower admissions for movies CGI is the most viable option. But I think its still possible to use older techniques wisely to produce more realistic outcomes and still be cost effective. I would just like to see a more balanced and varied approach. Anyhow my biggest gripe is a lot of films just get made for churning out special effects for cheap wow factor at expense of a decent engaging story/script.

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    At the moment, I think the pendulum has swung too far. More acting and less special effects would suit me and many others, I am sure. CGI extravaganzas are getting rather faddish now. Granted, fantasies like The Hobbit can only benefit from CGI because the races depicted in the story are almost totally imaginary, but if some story like The Caves of Steel (Isaac Asimov) were to be made, very little, if any, CGI would be needed. It might be science fiction, but I think portrayal of androids by actors is now in the bag.

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    Admittedly, this is speculation on my part, but I think that Hollywood will ultimately be forced to pursue whatever manufacturing techniques produce viable movies at the lowest possible cost. DVD sales are an important part of a movie's financial success, but DVD sales are going to eventually fail as the DVD itself is slowly phased out. Movie ticket sales are another important factor, and those are slowly failing also. Hollywood needs to figure out how to crank out big budget blockbuster movies without the "big budget" part.

    Physical movie sales may eventually be replaced by digital downloads, but people will still pay for those. The detriment comes from services such as Netflix, which cause people like me to say "why would I ever buy a copy of a movie?"

    As for movie ticket sales, maybe if the price of them hadn't doubled in the past ten years...

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    I like CGI in a movie when it's done in moderation, used where you really need to use it and do practical effects while you can. For instance, in the latest James Bond film, the only obvious CGI use was the artistic intro sequence (which is OK, because it's surrealistic). But one scene where most movies would use CGI (the London Tube train crash scene) they actually let a real train crash on a physical set; Awesome! It's so much more fun when you see real things causing mayhem than CGI rendered models...

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    There are a lot of small businesses that depend on motion picture theatres in your local area. It is important to continue to distribute the media to them, and that they have the equipment to project it. This is an important social experience for people.

    Watching a movie at home with or without a few friends limits the experience severely.

    I have no argument against motion pictures going totally digital for convenience sake and to get rid of cumbersome physical distribution. However, if you don't have access to live theatre in your locale, I think a motion picture theatre is the next best thing.

    Current pricing for recorded entertainment should not try to match the pricing for live theatre. I really don't see spending $20 or more per person to attend the running of a recorded show. Some serious thought needs to go into this.

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    Having thought about this in a little more depth, I think that I would like to see less of a focus on special effects (and as a result, CGI in general) and more of a focus on intellectually thoughtful movies. Movies like Fight Club, The Fountain, and Pi don't require a lot of special effects or CGI, but are nonetheless good movies because they promote critical thinking in the viewer. Action packed blockbuster movies have their place, but I think that they are relied on too heavily.

    There are a lot of small businesses that depend on motion picture theatres in your local area. It is important to continue to distribute the media to them, and that they have the equipment to project it. This is an important social experience for people.

    I disagree with this entirely. Typically, social interaction at a movie theater goes something like this:

    -Stand in line for a ticket

    -Stand in line for concessions (maybe, maybe not)

    -Try to find a good seat that isn't too close to anyone else

    -Watch a never ending stream of previews

    -Watch a commercial from Sprint that turns "please silence your phone" into a philosophical question about living phones

    -Watch a video from the theater company politely demanding that you shut up and be quiet for the duration of the movie

    -Watch the movie (usually in stone silence)

    -Leave the theater once the movie is over

    How is any of that a social experience? Unless you are going with a bunch of friends, you're probably not socializing with anyone. The most social interaction I ever have at a movie theater is when a bunch of my friends get together for a "fraternity movie night" where we watch some movie that no one cares about and then we proceed to ignore the whole "be quiet" etiquette because there is absolutely no one else in the movie theater to be upset that we're being noisy.

    Watching a movie at home with or without a few friends limits the experience severely.

    It depends. Some movies really are best when viewed on the big screen with professional audio systems. For most other movies, a movie night with a few good friends really tops anything the movie theater can provide. I recently watched Fight Club again with a friend that is a big fan of the movie. We probably stopped the movie a dozen times to discuss themes and statements made by the characters, and it made the movie significantly better. Quite a while back, a couple of friends and I gathered to watch the Star Trek reboot. Things went along like normal till the movie got to the "it only interacts with nuclear matter" phrase. After several minutes of dissing J.J. Abrams for ruining the movie with such a ridiculous comment, we opted to turn the rest of the movie into "an engineer watches Star Trek" session and we completely lampooned the entire rest of the movie. The girl that was watching it with us said it was the funniest thing she had seen in months.

    Then there are "bad movie nights" as we call them. The movie being played is some F grade movie that is so terrible that no one would bother to watch it, but that's fine, because no one is there to watch the movie anyway. You're there to hang out, chat with the people around you, and generally have a good time. The movie is just an excuse to get everyone together.

    Current pricing for recorded entertainment should not try to match the pricing for live theatre. I really don't see spending $20 or more per person to attend the running of a recorded show. Some serious thought needs to go into this.

    There are some live theater presentations that I would gladly go to see. Otherwise, I have no interest. I'd pay more for a movie ticket than a theater ticket, and I generally don't like paying more than $7 to see a movie.

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    Well, you see, I would pay a lot more to go an see a live play by a good author, a revival of a Broadway musical, one of the current really strong performances currently on the theatre circuit, and especially an opera like Jesus Christ, Superstar, West Side Story or La Bohème. When I was working, I subscribed to several theatre series, and my wife and I, and sometimes the kids, enjoyed this immensely.

    When Les Miserables was playing the Royal Alex in Toronto I saw it three times: first as part of a fund raiser for the Canadian Opera; next with the kids; and finally with my in-laws from the west coast. I enjoyed each performance.

    One thing about live stage performances is that they are never the same twice. These shows evolve over time, and while it always the same meat, it usually has different gravy. Sometimes an actor is replaced, sometimes some stage business is changed. It can be a lot of fun to see one of these more than once.

    I particularly remember one family experience when we arrived in Belleville, Ontario by boat. We docked at the yacht club, and went downtown to see what was available. We stumbled on a modern dress performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was a scream. I like parody, but this wasn't played that way. It was played straight except for the 1920s costumes and sets. Cross-gatered in yellow, indeed. I still get a laugh after 30 years thinking about this.

    I guess it has been a long time since I went to a movie theatre. It sounds like a deadly experience now. What a shame. Something like living in a high rise apartment building where you are not even on speaking terms with your next door neighbour. What a shame.

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