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Sunday, April 22, 2012


    As CGI, or Computer Generated Imagery becomes more prominent is the art of practical special effects falling to the wayside or is it proving to be more effective in generating chills in horror films? Audiences have begun to not only expect but demand increasingly realistic, impressive and often unexpected  computer generated effects and imagery. Production of television as well as film is increasingly done on sound stages or smaller insert stages against green screens, with performance capture (aka motion capture) on the increase, whether it is needed to tell the story or not. Which brings to the reality that not all filmmakers want to use C-G-I... and many of them talked about it at a recent gathering called Monsterpalooza.   

   In 1931 Frankenstein's monster was reanimated on the screen with Boris Karloff wearing four hours of make-up and three hours to take off to bring the monster to empathetic life. "King Kong" may have been a frame by frame animation, but every effort was made to bring a level of compassion and a heart to the greatest ape's expressions and movement.

Since then monsters have become a mainstay of American and international film. Actors can transform themselves into these characters, often without CG animation. Actors feel that for true humanity to come to life in characters the actor, and the actors eyes are vital.

   Acting is reacting. Even computer generated characters, monster or human, must react in ways that bring the story to a very real life.

   Monsters, strange characters and the actors who interact with them must have realistic expressions, movements and reactions.

   The Stan Winston School of character arts teaches the practical effect, using costumer, puppetry, make-up and prosthetics to film. Named after the man who created aliens, terminators and monsters, the studio  continues to teach how to mix the human and computer elements without losing out on the primary mission...telling a human and believable story. The audience should forget they are watching a movie and escape into the world of the story being told.

   To do this, all of the elements, both human and inhuman, real and computer "enhanced", must work seamlessly and integrate into the story without shouting "look at me, I am a CG!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And the best example of this is Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Andy Serkis is amazing at bringing CGI characters to life.

John Williams
COM 101
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