CGI: Know Your Limitations

Recently, I watched a wonderful video put together by RocketJump Film School. The video is called, “Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t).” The video takes an in-depth look at popular movies and how they use CGI, Computer Generated Images. It is a fascinating look at why people are oversimplifying things when they say something like, “CGI is ruining movies.” Or, “CGI just looks fake.” In reality, CGI is like most tools that filmmakers use. If you do it well, no one notices. But if you do it poorly, everyone notices.

Crocosaurus from Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

Crocosaurus from Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

I occasionally like to watch terrible Syfy channel original movies. They usually have simple, descriptive titles like Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. Basically, the movie will feature a large shark and a crocodile/dinosaur. And, if you have watched any of these movies, you know that the shark and croc will look incredibly fake because they are CG.


Scene from Mad Max: Fury Road

I also enjoy watching big blockbuster movies like this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road. You may have heard people praise George Miller’s use of practical effects (real things not CG). And George deserves that praise. There are incredible practical effects in that movie. But, they are mixed with lots of CGI, too. His ability to mix practical effects with CGI makes for incredible results.

George Miller knew that relying solely on CGI would lead to poor results, but he also knew that CGI can be a great tool. He knew his limitations.

Watch the video from RocketJump Film School to learn a lot more and see some great examples of CG that you probably thought were practical effects.

– Bryan Reklis

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