Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Less is More

I always used to think that CGI and special effects had to be big these big, in-your-face spectacles; explosions, giant transforming robots, things like that. After our last class of making (somewhat real-looking) birds, however, I realize that this is certainly not the case. Turns out, CGI is used for some incredibly subtle things, whether it be via a greenscreen or any other method.

One of the better movies that I watched over Winter break was Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. Apart from a scene where a gigantic yacht capsizes in a storm and some of the more ludicrous parties that the film showed, I figured that there wasn't many special effects used overall. It seemed pretty straightforward; lots of scenes in offices and fancy homes that I thought were perfectly plausible for a man like Scorsese to film. 

Well, I was wrong. Turns out that Scorsese used a pretty decent amount of CGI throughout the entire film. I'm always of the state of mind that it's better to film something for real (whether it's special effects or just getting the exact location that you're looking for) but I have to say that I'm extremely impressed with Marty's attention to detail. Whether it's a tiny detail (replacing a doorway to make a home look completely different) or something huge (completely recreating a prison by using a ton of greenscreen shots all at once), the CGI in Wolf of Wall Street was generally pretty seamless. 

One of the only scenes that I thought for sure was CGI'd was the "commercial" at the beginning of the film, where a lion walks between a row of desks in a brokerage firm. I thought the lion was done completely with special effects. Turns out it was one of the only real things in the scene. Pretty much sums up what I know about special effects.  

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