Thursday, March 26, 2015

CGI vs Practical Effects

Being in a motion graphics and animation class, we kind of find ourselves in the center of a heated debate in the movie industry. Is it better to use computer generated effects, or practical effects. Fans also have a huge stake this debate as well, many claiming that the overuse of CGI can "ruin" movies. Thats one of the reasons disgruntled fans give when complaining about the Star Wars prequels, and why the internet was overjoyed to find out J. J. Abrams is using puppets for Episode VII.

But one of the biggest franchises to find itself in the center of this debate is The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. 

One thing that movie nerds love about The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the amazing use of makeup and practical effects to produce a large amount of Orcs and other characters in the movies. Actors would have to sit in makeup for hours on end into in order to achieve these impressive effects.

Many fans were then disappointed when they realized that The Hobbit trilogy would be taking a more computer based approach to get the desired look for many of the characters. While they did utilize makeup for some close ups and other less action oriented scenes, there is a heavy use of motion capture and other CGI techniques in order to create many of the characters. 

Both techniques are extremely impressive to pull off, and how they are received by an audience comes down to personal preference. In my opinion, you get best end result when you combine the two, using practical effects when you can and falling back on CGI when practical effects are just no longer practical.

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