CGI versus Storytelling

January 1, 2017 Music

Computer generated animation and effects can be amazing, revolutionary, and even beautiful, but they are often overrated. .

How many people remember the movie, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”? It was touted as a breakthrough feature film, with completely computer generated actors. Let’s face it, the computer graphics were amazing. The action was amazing. Neither of these could save the film, however. The bottom line is that the script was horrible. Perhaps “Final Fantasy” would have been a better film if it went the rout of “Fantasia” and just played music while the audience enjoyed all the cool images. The point is that computer animation is just another tool used to convey a message. Used properly, computer animation can truly enhance a story. Can you imagine the movie “Toy Story” done with puppets? Maybe it could have worked, but I doubt it would have achieved the same success.

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It’s true that computer animation enables movie makers to create effects that would be very difficult or impossible to achieve otherwise, such as compositing an actor’s face on his stunt double or building convincingly realistic environments that don’t actually exist. That is, of course, if the movie budget is large enough. All too often, it seems, these effects are thrown in just because movie makers can get away with it. .

The “Matrix”, for example, made use of a variety of different computer effects, from creating squid-like destroyer androids to super powered martial arts scenes. Almost every bit of computer animation, almost every effect, was used to further the story. Jumping on the bandwagon of the “Matrix” success, many new movies copied its effects without taking the story-telling aspect into consideration. In other words, I”m more likely to believe in a computer-generated Neo doing kung fu than three stick-like “Charlie’s Angels” flying through the air and beating up bad guys three times their size.


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