Computer generated imagery, or CGI, has allowed movie creators a chance to do things they normally wouldn’t be able to do. I’m not just talking about science fiction getting to perform a level of fake science previously too cost expensive to produce or limited by physics, but even other movies altering the scenery or creating a crowd that would have cost way too much to have that many extras. They learned to employ tricks like cardboard cutouts or failures like “day for night shots” but computers allowed them to compensate. Nobody should be mad at the tool, because it is a good one.
However, practical effects, from make-up to animatronics, also still have their place. CG has limitations of its own and Hollywood’s failure to grasp that can lead to some rather questionable moments. The “uncanny valley”, those little details that at least subconsciously tell our brains it’s fake, leads to breaking the immersion in ways so small some don’t even realize it’s happening even if they see the results.
Wren Weichman, one of the VFX artists for YouTube channel and digital effects comedy juggernaut Corridor Digital, was asked to give a TED Talk about modern CG and it’s benefits and weaknesses. Afterwards he turned it into a video essay for the channel, which is what I bring you tonight. however, if you just want to see the TED Talk without the fancy editing watch the second video instead. It was recorded in March but only uploaded to their channel in October. Either way it’s a fascinating look at what CG can and can’t do and why.
Catch more explorations of good and bad visual effects on the Corridor Crew’s backstage YouTube channel.
See Wren put his money where his mouth is on Corridor Digital’s YouTube channel.
Catch more TED Talks on their YouTube channel.