Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Movies and Technology: From 3-D to CGI, the Good and the Bad

Well I just bought a new I-phone today and well it has inspired me to talk about the use of technology in film and how throughout the years movies have used this to: help make money or waste people's money, and create films that will help advance the process of making films.

The latest trend (although it is not so much about new technology) is the use of 3-D in film.  The "goal" of the production company is to pull the audience into the film more and breakdown the walls bringing them into the actual film so they feel a part of what is going on on-screen.  This will lead to 4-D in the future and has influenced the invention of 3-D television viewing because of the growing technology that keeps people actively involved.  My own analysis is that it is a way for companies to make more money from their viewing audience.  I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D (it was hard to find a theatre that was just play a regular version of the film in NYC).  It was a waste of the extra money I had to pay this being filmed in 3-D was pointless, there have been a handful of films that make me laugh when the advertiser says "in Imax and Imax 3-D.  The summer months are almost upon and I have found myself researching and looking up films that will not be shown in 3-D so a) I don't have to wear those damn glasses and b) I won't have to pay extra to see a movie like Toy Story 3 IN 3-D.  Now I may sound old with these comments but this is one form of "advancing" technology I just think is stupid, and people will soon realize is a waste of their money.
Now technology has also done a great job by advancing animation, this is one place where PIXAR has helped to further one form of film making.  There are recent modern day marvels that just could not have been as visually beautiful as they were today, or made.  The landscape of science fiction and fantasy films has become almost entity.  Just think about the wondrous work of James Cameron's two iconic blockbuster films.  Now I have to say Cameron is an AWFUL screenwriter, but as a director he is a true visionary.  His two films Titanic and Avatar both are visually beautiful and create world's and experiences that are aided by CGI.  Avatar visual effects are just fantastic and they highlight some of the best work done in recent years.
The key to good CGI is making the viewer feel as though the world exists and that the Hollywood trickery does not make someone in the audience laugh at the fake human beings that are used or have the fakes images take away from the actual story.  Obviously budget plays a huge role in creating believable special effects, but in a day when blockbusters are given huge budgets it should not be hard to make something look believable.  However there have been several cases where films just did not understand technology and looked sloppy and fake.  If you watch the first Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone during the quidditch game it is clear that some of the people on brooms look fake or computerized.  This is one of the most noticeable gaffs I have seen in recent years (I blame Chris Columbus as I hate his direction).  I tried to find a clip on YouTube but alas damn copyright.  If you are a fan watch the movie and you will see.

Please directors just don't forget that depth is important and a good screenplay matters, so try not to make your films just look good, give them some substance.  This video listed below higlights the last hundred years in visual effects over the last 100 years enjoy!

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