CGI sucks, except when it doesn’t


The reason we think it’s bad is because, when it’s done well, we don’t notice it.

Then it’s awesome.

Great visual effects serve story and character and, by doing so, are invisible.

Way to get great effects is by understanding what the computer can do, playing to those strengths, while supplementing the weaknesses with other techniques.

Computers are good at rendering things,

  • solid objects
    • Cars in chases
    • Airplanes
    • Entire cities built from reference photos, allowing them to fly the camera around wherever they needed it to
  • Cloth, animals, skin (was a real challenge at first)
    • Matrix reloaded is artificial
    • 3rd Matrix movie is a lot better
    • And then Benjamin Button
  • Human beings are still a challenge, because any anomaly jumps out,
  • But far away human beings are no problem (don’t hire as many extras now)
  • Water, computers are on top of it
  • Explosions, fire, smoke, generally okay
  • Physics is a problem – they seem too light
    • To counteract this they’ll work of some actual reference data
    • Take practical footage from other shootings and add that into the shot


Bad quality due to:

  • Money and
  • Time
    • Very competitive landscapes
    • Razor thin margins
    • If they do their job well, you almost never see it


If the movie is good, even flawed visual effects get overlooked, they were always a part of this art form.



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