CGI still improves film

Grace Wilson, Staff Videographer

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In recent years, Hollywood has grown increasingly skilled in developing computer-generated imagery, or ‘CGI’. Audiences are able to experience new worlds otherwise impossible with these revolutionary improvements. However overuse and laziness have come as well. 

Filmmakers are able to create lazily written scripts with little depth, and audiences will still come as long as there is a cool explosion. CGI is often not as special as it used to be, and many are arguing that CGI has cheapened the industry, but this is not true. CGI should not be looked down upon due to misuse and it should still be used to improve film.

The technology we use for films now has obviously not always existed. For years, companies were able to make beautiful and believable scenes using only practical effects and clever camera work, such as the xenomorph in “Alien”, or the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park”. Impressive practical effects with limited CGI like these form the argument that if we were to go back to mostly just practical effects, movies would be improved. Practical effects are indeed important, which is why they are often seamlessly combined with computer-generated effects. CGI can be used to improve shots that were attained with mainly practical effects, or the other way around. They do not have to be exclusive. Good filmmakers utilize all the available technology they can to improve their story with good shots. This technology can be brand new or 50 years old, but the only thing that matters is that the effects they want are attained.

When one hears about CGI, the image that generally comes to mind is flashy backgrounds, giant robots, or giant explosions, but this is not all that CGI is. It is used in ways audiences often are not aware of, to do something as simple as adding a prop. Unobtrusive and subtle CGI has become commonplace in films, going unnoticed by the audience, but making all the difference. An example of this is the musical “Les Miserables”. All of the singing in the movie was recorded live as they were acting. This posed the problem of where to place microphones without having them in the shot. The creators decided to not hide them, but just edit them out, so they were unnoticeable. 

Another example is an entire baby in “Children of Men” being computer generated. The baby is involved in chase scenes and hazardous situations, so the filmmakers obviously couldn’t use a real baby. This resulted in a fake baby that had the film’s audiences fooled.

CGI is not just giant in-your-face scenes. It can be simple and unnoticeable.

The most obvious boon of CGI is the astounding visuals that can be attained with it. Stunning galaxies, characters and worlds are now able to be generated with computers. There are just some things that can’t be made with practical effects, that can only be achieved with CGI. 

With technology improving every day, more detailed and realistic scenes are possible. Today’s movie-goers should not write off CGI for misuse, it is just a tool that can be used correctly or incorrectly.