Monday, February 17, 2014

How much of what we watch is real?

Through many hours of YouTube scouring and fact searching, I can confidently state one thing: so much less of what we think is real in movies actually is. My mind has been sufficiently blown by the countless examples of where visual effects have replaced what I truly though had been shot on-set. Usually, one can tell what can be realistically recorded on a camera and what is produced by a computer. Well, as it turns out, that's not entirely true.

Take The Avengers for example. Now, clearly very much of the film is computer-generated. It's obvious. Unless there was actually an alien invasion that recently happened in New York City that I wasn't aware of, I think it's safe to say that the large majority of this invasion was created through the use of visual effects. What I had no idea, though, was the fact that pretty much the entire city itself was also created after the original shooting of the film. Seriously, take a look:

It's unbelievable to think that some of the only real-life things in that entire video are a couple actors in front of tiny green screens. You'd think at least some of the city landscapes would be shot on-scene, but nope! Not at all!

The Lone Ranger is another prime example of this sort of visual effects use. Now, personally speaking, I feel like the large-scale use of effects is much more noticeable in this film, even though the animators did an excellent job with it. I'm really not quite sure how to explain why I feel this way, but there's just a feeling you get when you watch the film. Here's a highlight reel of The Lone Ranger:

I had another video that was a much better example, but it decided that it didn't want to be posted. Anyway, you can see in this video that, in many scenes, the only real things are the actors themselves. Sets seem to be becoming obsolete when they can be replaced by green screens and special effects.

Here's the link to the actual video I want you to watch.

NOW you can see how ridiculous The Lone Ranger is when it comes to special effects. While the effects aren't necessarily the most realistic-looking you've ever seen, you've gotta hand it to the animators. Led by VFX Supervisor, Gary Brozenich, the visual effects company MPC created over 550 individual shots for the film. These include anything from CGI canyons and forests to horses and scorpions.

It's crazy just how much of a film can be attributed to the countless animators who you've never heard of and exactly how much of what you're seeing on screen was actually shot on-set.

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