It’s in fashion to praise the practical effects of modern blockbusters today while spurning the CGI overload of bloated blockbusters past. One of the reasons that Mad Max: Fury Road resonated as much as it did with audiences was that so much of the stunts and action relied on practical, real life moments and not something churned out by a few ones and zeroes in a rendering program. Except…that’s not completely true. Yes, a lot of the stunts in the film were practically enacted, but George Miller still used CGI to add in cars and people, to render landscapes that weren’t actually there, and to help supplement his practical work. So is CGI bad? A new visual essay essentially states that audiences are only sick of CGI because they are sick of bad CGI (it makes more sense in the video).
Rocket Jump Film School crafted the following visual essay about how ubiquitous CGI-use is in film today. More importantly, the majority of audiences don’t notice its most frequent uses, like when it’s used to populate crowds or construct landscapes. There are things that CGI still struggles with, specifically the look of real people in motion in close up and some funky physics issues where the CGI creations look too light. But mo-cap rendering and a deft filmmaker can work around these areas to deliver impressive effects that many people confuse with either a practical solution or the real thing. David Fincher’s work and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity are both highlighted for how much CGI ”snuck” past audiences because it was used so precisely. It’s an interesting hypothesis that is ably supported by a lot of behind the scenes clips of pre-rendered shots from films and TV shows. In the end, perhaps it has less to do with the quality of the CGI used and more to do with the quality of the filmmaker using it and the film in which it’s ultimately used.