Why do folks hate CGI in movies?

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Animatronics and make-up still looks better than CGI. Only thing I can think of where there CGI looked real is District 9. Avatar looked like a cutscene from a Square game through most of the the movie.

Edit: CGI is perfectly fine for backgrounds and effects like lasers but I rarely like movies with a lot of CGI in the foreground. It just reminds me that I'm watching a movie and it annoys me.

I think people are more annoyed at the presumption that CGI is better, CGI can often look really fake and it need not be used is some cases. The most recent Star Wars films were a good example of this. Also some people probably consider it cheating.

because it's lazy film making... look at Blade Runner it is in my opinion one of the most visually impressive movies ever made and it uses no cgi...

Ponch:
I was totally ninja'd by every single previous poster.

Same here. The consensus seems to be:

We don't hate it, per se, as much as we think it's overused and, more often than not, done poorly. When used in tandem with practical effects (example: Lord of the Rings, HellBoy, Where the Wild Things Are), they're effective. When they're used in place of perfectly good practical effects, it's patently absurd.

Look at it this way:
Star Wars
IV, V, VI: Yoda is a puppet designed by one person out of foam rubber and cloth, and operated by roughly two other people (Frank Oz as the main operator and voice, with another person operating the eyes and ears. This process is later reduced to just Frank Oz). As a result, Yoda has as much if not more screen presence than many human actors and becomes a cultural icon.

I, II, III: Yoda is handled by a team of at least half-a-dozen animators working on a bank of high-end PCs (not to mention a huge render farm) running software (which was itself developed by hundreds of programmers with overhead of their own) to effectively, in their own words, MATCH Frank Oz's performance as Yoda in the original series. As a result, Yoda can have a few overly-flashy fight sequences which get a few encouraging laughs, but are ultimately forgotten and regarded as, "Well, that certainly proves Yoda CAN fight with a lightsaber. Now what?"

Two words: Uncanny Valley.

As many people have been saying there is good use of CGI and not so good. When people complain about the CGI, its because they sense a jarring lack of consistency; it looks 'fake' or unrealistic when next to the real actors. Aside from the actual rendering of the models/effects and how the actors react to them, the animation playback speed has to match the speed of which the real camera footage was recorded at as well. Sometimes this doesn't happen and you get an inconsistency between two sources which causes them to clash.

Basically, in order to become (near) immune to criticism, CG has to truly seem photo realistic (enough) in both the model/effect and in movement, or be stylised well enough for the viewers to be more willing to suspend disbelief.

Even animatronics and puppetry have faults that CG can overcome. ED-209's stop motion for example. As brilliantly constructed and animated as it was, you can notice how rather 'stuttery' its movements were. If it was a photo realistic cg model with its animation matching the footage frames per second, it may well have been cheaper, quicker and prettier.

Real world props don't usually have inconsistency because its real; it looks as it would in real life. A CG artist has the arduous task of trying to replicate the most difficult of visuals, involving many long studies on why plastic looks the way it does. Most people don't take this into account and cite CG as lazy as a result. On the contrary, it may actually take more effort to do right and its all too easy to fall in uncanny valley.

Dr. HeatSync:

Even animatronics and puppetry have faults that CG can overcome. ED-209's stop motion for example. As brilliantly constructed and animated as it was, you can notice how rather 'stuttery' its movements were.

Eh, I'm sure it's only a glitch.

summerof2010:
Snip

It really depends on how it is used. If it takes a backseat to help drive the story, action, characters, etc. or is used to places we can't even imagin, I am perfectly fine with it. Good CGI, however, doesn't mean expensive CGI. On one hand, one of the reasons that District 9 works so well is that the aliens almost always look real, as disgusting and savage as they may be. The other hand is stuff that is meant to be artistic, like most Pixar films (for example, the 50's comic book style of the Incrediables). Bad CGI is stuff used to replace story, characters, and coherient action (I.E. Transformers) or CGI's that looks like it is really fake (the Final Fantacy movie).

Using CGI effects for effects which can be easily reproduced by normal methods just strikes me as lazy movie-making. CGI blood for example makes me angry because fake blood has been around as long as movies and almost always looks better than the CGI version

I can't speak for why anyone else dislikes CGI, but for my money, it's because the state of the art has yet to get to a point where the best CGI is as indistinguishable from reality as the best practical effects.

Blade Runner has already been mentioned; I'd also add Pan's Labyrinth and, of all things, Star Trek IV to the mix. Now, I'm sure Pan's Labyrinth used some CG, but the majority of the effects were practical, and the film just looks better for it. Star Trek IV is an odd choice, due to the relative lack of effects, however, what effects are in it are breathtaking -- and here's the reason; The lighting. Specifically, our most advanced CGI still doesn't quite match the way light works in real life. Looking at the newer Star Wars films, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even Avatar, the parts with CGI effects don't quite look real, largely due to light not quite playing off of surfaces the way it should. In all three of the films I initially mentioned, and many others by extension, we don't hit that lighting based portion of the uncanny valley, because the lights are actually playing off the surface of a real object -- often something that is actually on the set with the actors.

If it looks good, then it's great. Many times though, it either sucks or is used to cover up flaws about the movie in general.

I mean, look at Transformers. The whole movie is just showing off pretty CGI in a shitload of time.

People hate it so much because even I could literally do better than some of the shit they have these days.

Mar451:
I don't like when people use CGI when they could have used more traditional effects

Remember Jurassic Park? Only about 4 minutes of that movie were CGI in all, the rest was clever puppetry and animatronics. Its when people use it as shortcuts where I get annoyed.

See AVATAR, Star Trek, and any Star Wars movie that has Ewan McGreggor in it.

Just because you can use CGI, dosnt mean you should.

Soemtimes its needed, like say for example District 9, or Splice, or Hellboy, but they use the special effects to clean and polish the make up and animatronic effects.

Thats how i feel on it anyway

I completely agree with you.
Sure just because you CAN use CGI all throughout a film, doesn't mean you should. It will eventually become noticeable and just distracting in my opinion.

The only time cgi is ever good in a film, is when you didn't even notice they had used it...

However, if you do catch it, it never blends in with the rest of the film, it stands out too much...

Because, done poorly, it ruins suspension of disbelief.

That's why Avatar makes a bajillion dollars. For all its storytelling flaws and originality issues, it looks so beautiful and real, people don't even care.

guardian001:
People don't hate CGI. People hate bad CGI.
I'll define "bad" though, because in this case it doesn't have the same meaning it normally does.

If you look at something in a movie and say "Wow, that was some really good CGI!", That movie had bad CGI. Because you noticed it. If the CGI is good, you won't notice it, and everyone is happy. If the bits that are CGI stand out from everything else, no matter how nice they look, that is bad CGI.

Which is why people hate it. It sticks out. It breaks immersion. Its constantly sitting there, breaking the experience. It's like the uncanny valley. If just a few little things look off with CGI, the entire thing is ruined.

Good CGI should be like a good sound effects department: you don't realize it's there until you're done and thinking, "Yeah, that's totally what lightsabers activating sounds like" and not "Man, that lightsaber sounds like a guy hitting two pieces of cutlery together". Good CGI should be so seamless that I don't notice it's there. The only problem with that statement is that there are a lot of film-makers these days who decide to include things that are impossible to build in real life, so certain things have to be CGI. A good example of high quality CGI was the Transformers. The movies themselves were average at best but those CG robots looked like they were almost actual things on set.

matsugawa:

Look at it this way:
Star Wars
IV, V, VI: Yoda is a puppet designed by one person out of foam rubber and cloth, and operated by roughly two other people (Frank Oz as the main operator and voice, with another person operating the eyes and ears. This process is later reduced to just Frank Oz). As a result, Yoda has as much if not more screen presence than many human actors and becomes a cultural icon.

I, II, III: Yoda is handled by a team of at least half-a-dozen animators working on a bank of high-end PCs (not to mention a huge render farm) running software (which was itself developed by hundreds of programmers with overhead of their own) to effectively, in their own words, MATCH Frank Oz's performance as Yoda in the original series. As a result, Yoda can have a few overly-flashy fight sequences which get a few encouraging laughs, but are ultimately forgotten and regarded as, "Well, that certainly proves Yoda CAN fight with a lightsaber. Now what?"

Yoda wasn't in IV and he was a puppet in I. Sorry, I just couldn't let that go unsaid.

I do not hate CGI. I do however dislike any special effect that is obviously a special effect. When I watch a sequence, if I can quickly construct a plausible way that the sequence was built, my disbelief, once suspended, comes crashing down. CGI is simply an oft used effect that violates this tenant.

Yeah I like CGI not the low-budget shit now but the sort of animation that works with the movie not totally fucking it up. Just because you have CGI in a movie doesn't mean that it gives it the hole spotlight I've seen low budget movies ruined by the way they use their animation. Terrible.

summerof2010:

Geekosaurus:
I want to see them do it for real. I'm talking more in terms of action films here, and not so much sci-fi...

So it's the simple fact that you know it's fake? ...Isn't it all fake? I mean, even without CGI, you can hardly call action movies from a decade or two ago "realistic." Although I do know it's much cooler when it at least seems like it's possible. Maybe it's simply that the effects that would require CGI are just too fantastic for you to find plausible enough to get into. Just thinking out loud. Er, in text.

It's a strange argument to put forward, I know. There's a bit in the Bourne Ultimatum that sort of illustrates my point quite well though.

It's the bit where Bourne is being chased over the rooftops, oh erm...spoiler alert? Ok...so he's being chased and he feels the need to jump from a rooftop and smash through a narrow window to land in some innocent person's house. There's a shot that follows him from behind, through the air and into the window. It's probably less than a second long in the film and they could have quite easily just green-screened Matt Damon (or a stunt man) jumping onto a safety mat and then fill in the background. But they don't, they strap a camera onto a man and put him on a massive wire connected to a crane, and he literally jumps off the rooftop with the stunt man and follows him through the air. They put all the time, effort and money into making this shot, despite the fact that it's a minuscule amount of the film*.

You can sometimes tell when a section of the film is done with CGI, and sometimes you can't. But I like how the film-maker didn't take that risk. The fact that they actually did it for real just makes it that little bit more awesome. You perhaps wont notice it during your first viewing, but you can look back on it and think, 'yeah that bit was epic'.

*I watched the DVD bonus footage, so I'm fairly certain this story is true.

Sometimes it's better when something is in front of the camera.Puppets can look realistic but CGI will always look a fake or plastic and the realism in movies is far better without CGI altough i like CGI effects i prefer the old stuff when the actors really had to act and movies show a lot more creativity

This is pretty much why...


...wait a second...George Lucas said what?..

Ok, well back more on topic, I don't really mind CGI, but when it is used way way too much you can tell its there and it kind of breaks it for your mind =/ Like young George said, it's just a tool, not a means to an end.

Good CGI I have no problem with.

But then there's this.

image
image

Avatar, for example. Those use CGI to help form a world, within with the characters and stories inhabit. When the CGI is a component, same as the music or story or whatever, and when it's done WELL, it's gone. Or Jurassic Park, where the CGI is not used as a component, but as a means of enhancing the reality.

The problem is more often than not it's used as a crutch, or becomes the focus. I remember a documentary on Star Wars Episode 1, where they talked about how they spent more time on the details of a single second long shot of Yoda, than they did any other shot in the film. And for what? All the flaws with that film, and they spent what probably amounted to hundreds if not thousands of man hours for a single shot, simply because they could?

Plus a lot of times it comes down to laziness. Look at it this way: if I design and animate a giant snake, I can do that by myself on a single computer over the course of a few days with render time.

Contrast that with the dozens of people required to design, construct, transport, operate, and maintain an animatronic and from a money standpoint it just doesn't make sense to invest in the real thing when, as a lot of responses in this thread prove, having a real thing is pointless because people will just accept CGI as better.

Really the biggest problem I see is that we seem to spend more time arguing about the CGI, while ignoring the important things, like plot. But then this is the video game graphics argument all over again. If you think CGI is the only important thing, well, you have absolutely no right to complain when a movie is terrible, because they spent all that time and money on the graphics instead.

easy the difference between the star wars trilogys

Eldritch Warlord:

matsugawa:

Look at it this way:
Star Wars
IV, V, VI: Yoda is a puppet ... and becomes a cultural icon.

I, II, III: Yoda is handled by a team of at least half-a-dozen animators... ultimately forgotten and regarded as, "Well, that certainly proves Yoda CAN fight with a lightsaber. Now what?"

Yoda wasn't in IV and he was a puppet in I. Sorry, I just couldn't let that go unsaid.

Gah! You're right. Well, there goes my geek credibility. I should have just said "original trilogy" and "prequel trilogy" (which is what I meant with the numbers, but it does look like I was citing the specific films) with a note about the Episode I puppet supposedly getting a lot of negative feedback from fans, hence going digital with him for Clones.

I really don't hate CGI, i just think that in order for it to fit in, it has to be the right type of movie.

That and, the only REAL reason I would hate it is way too much of it. Transformer 2 (which i was forced to see) just had to much. most of the things on screen were flying robot arms/legs.

well i dont know anyone like that
my dad the most old fashioned guys i know was blown away by avatar and named it one of his favorite sci fi movies

It works quite well when implemented as a way to enhance the movie slightly while still relying on traditional directing and actors/actresses. If a movie solely relies on CGI it can really take away from the movie.

CGI is used far too much as a gimmick. It needs to be used carefully, and for reasons that make sense.

Avatar? They had to make a whole damn planet. CGI was used for a reason.

Star Trek? Massive, action-filled space battles. Just TRY to make that stuff with anything else.

The Last Starfighter? Can I get a unanimous "WTF?"

Well as a amateur CG artist my self, this is going to come as a little hypocritical... I don't like it, not in large doses anyhow. The problem it tends to have is that it often looks too clean, weightless and too, well fake. I'm not against the use of CGI, however I feel we rely too much on it when really animatronics and models should be the preferred method. I mean... Animatronics and models always have a sense of realism to them, mainly because they actually existed. They where shot and filmed, using camera tricks and such to make them interact with the actors. That's not that I completely detest CG... I think it's good in small doses. Like covering what can't be covered, doing what you really couldn't do any other way or using it for background stuff.

What I'm saying is, CG should be a last resort for most cases. Otherwise, model work would do. Case and point, the lord of the rings movies and the original star wars movies. The lord of the rings movies relied mostly on clever model work and camera tricks while using CGI for shots that would have been implausible to film any other way.

The star wars movies use models filmed in front of a green screen for the most part. These ships look and feel real. They look like they have actual weight to them and the look like they could exist. The CG models in the prequels just look too... Clean and chromed. While the models in the original gave it that realistic edge due to the models being real material.

Geekosaurus:
It's a strange argument to put forward, I know. There's a bit in the Bourne Ultimatum that sort of illustrates my point quite well though.

It's the bit where Bourne is being chased over the rooftops, oh erm...spoiler alert? Ok...so he's being chased and he feels the need to jump from a rooftop and smash through a narrow window to land in some innocent person's house. There's a shot that follows him from behind, through the air and into the window. It's probably less than a second long in the film and they could have quite easily just green-screened Matt Damon (or a stunt man) jumping onto a safety mat and then fill in the background. But they don't, they strap a camera onto a man and put him on a massive wire connected to a crane, and he literally jumps off the rooftop with the stunt man and follows him through the air. They put all the time, effort and money into making this shot, despite the fact that it's a minuscule amount of the film*.

You can sometimes tell when a section of the film is done with CGI, and sometimes you can't. But I like how the film-maker didn't take that risk. The fact that they actually did it for real just makes it that little bit more awesome. You perhaps wont notice it during your first viewing, but you can look back on it and think, 'yeah that bit was epic'.

*I watched the DVD bonus footage, so I'm fairly certain this story is true.

I think I get that. Actually, that reminds me of watching Jackie Chan when I was younger. He was cool enough in it's own right, but I was ten times as enthralled by him after I found out he did his own stunts. Just knowing that, even if it was just a movie, he was actually doing that shit -- blew my little 10 year old mind.

Ironic Pirate:
Because if used too much or poorly, it looks terrible. Not any worse, arguably, than a terrible costume, but still.

Also, some directors that will go nameless here use it in place of character development or plot.

The second thing he said. Sadly due to the ease and bombastic nature of most CGI it has turned many movies into a spectacle rather than a story. Why? Because you can churn decent CG technicians out of a school pretty much like clockwork. Truly great story however requires a raw talent that is very hard to teach. So studios go with the more bankable and reliable blockbuster that has shitloads of explosions and CGI disasters as apposed to well written and likable characters. That has generated a certain stigma around CGI not because its quality or potential or artistic merit is any less than make up or stop motion but because it has overshadowed that which should be foremost in modern movie making; the story.

And some people are just nostalgic elitist pricks.

Cheveyo:
Ok, I'm going to say this as plainly as possible. It will answer a large number of questions you may have now and in the future.

PEOPLE ARE STUPID.

That's why.

This is the truth. CGI is awesome and most of humanity is too stupid to appreciate it.

People will say this:

Because badly done costumes etc. look 'quaint'.

Badly done CGI just looks like badly done CGI.

aka this:

Cheveyo:
Ok, I'm going to say this as plainly as possible. It will answer a large number of questions you may have now and in the future.

PEOPLE ARE STUPID.

That's why.

It's not really hate towards CGI. I love good CGI, hell i fiddle with 3d design myself as a hobby as well as other digital arts. Problem with CGI in sci-fi/action/fantasy movies is different however. Most of production either
a) overuse them even when it's not needed
b) do a crappy CGI that just hurts eyes
or c) try to pull the whole movie by just special effects ignoring all other factors like proper acting, good story, etc.

When i see a trailer for yet another action packed blockbuster i just ignore it. I am not interested in seeing 2h of CGI showcase broken by really bad scenes where actors stutter out cliche after cliche and entire 'cinema magic' is brought down to rendering a bigger, uglier beast or fancier explosion. Movies need to be about something, they need to be good on many levels, not just have best 3d design team.

summerof2010:
They're smoother, prettier, and more believable, especially when combined with conventional costume and make-up pieces.

It's that last line that's key. They work when they are smoothly combined with conventional techniques. However, they often are not. Look at Star Wars Special Edition. The CGI looks worse than the models because the CGI is too clear. A great example is the final space battle at Endor. The ships that are models are a bit rusty, they're far away, they're moving so you don't see them clearly, and they look used. If you've ever seen a warship in a navy, it never looks brand new, because after a few years at sea, the ship is worn, used and being repaired. Most ships in most western nation navies are decades old too. So having old, worn out models for space ships taps into this and makes sense.
Compare this to the ships that are CGI in Special Edition. They are bright and clean. They actually shine a bit so they're easier to see. You can count the rivets from miles away, because every point is perfectly rendered. It just stands out a lot and the only reaction is "Oh yeah, that's CGI."

{quote}
So why is not using them a point a movie's favor? Keep in mind I'm the farthest thing from a movie buff, and I'm only 18, so I wasn't even cognizant back when CGI was new, and I've never paid that much attention to it's development.[/quote]

It can be. I don't know of anybody who actually says "They used CGI, I'm not going to see it because of that." But the problem is when CGI is used as a crutch. Older movies had to get around unrealistic things with good film maker. Jaws is suspenseful because you don't see the shark. It's not that you couldn't make a good movie where you show the shark, it's that by not seeing the shark, the movie becomes much scarier. But this is very hard to get away with. The choice back when Jaws was made was either to make something really silly, because the audience realizes you're tricking them by not showing the shark, or to be an amazing director and keep the tension up when the audience will almost never see what they are supposed to be afraid of. That's why so many horror films from the time are just dumb, because the director was not up to the challenge. Now, CGI gives the director a new option. Be a crappy director, but show the audience something scary. There's an object to fear and the movie stays scary.

Does this mean that for a scary movie to be good, you can't see the monster? No, not at all. In the hands of a good director, you can still have a good movie with CGI. What it means is more movies can get away with being crappy. So you end up with a smaller percentage of good movies.

I used horror, but it's true everywhere. Star Trek needed interesting story telling and action to get away with spaceships on a string. The final lightsaber fight in Return of the Jedi is better than any of the battles in the Prequels because you actually care about the characters and the outcome. You, the audience, feel the conflict, both the external dueling and the internal self-doubts of the characters. It's dramatic and powerful. So it doesn't matter that the stunts are simple and the choreography basic. Compare that to the Prequels. The fights have flips and spins, CGI everywhere, lasers constantly firing, little midget aliens leaping 6 feet in the air, all kinds of stuff. But the writing is so poor, that you don't care. I still don't know why Dooku or whatever his name was, was a a bad guy. I don't know why he thought fighting Yoda was a good idea. It was just a fight for no reason, so nobody cared. All the money was blown on CGI.

That's the reason for the hate. CGI isn't inherently bad, and it can enhance a great movie. But only enhance it, not make it. CGI can allow directors to get away with an otherwise terrible movie. So many do, and that's why it's looked down upon.

Unlike 3D, which is inherently bad and pointless and should never be used, but I've written enough already.

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