VFX Video Essay: Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn't)

Taught By:

Freddie Wong

Description:

Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies?

We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad, is because we only see “bad” CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere - you just don't know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character– and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible.

Lesson Plan

Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies?

We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad, is because we only see “bad” CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere - you just don't know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character– and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible.

There are plenty of movies with bad VFX, and occasionally a bad movie with great VFX. But you ever wonder why you almost NEVER see a great movie with awful visual effects? Even classics with practical effects that look dated to our modern sensibilities - we don’t really seem to mind those - and audiences certainly didn’t at the time.

Maybe it’s because we don’t have much to complain about when it comes to great movies - the craft and storytelling so enchants us that we’re not, in the back of our minds, looking for an easy scapegoat. And when we think about a great movie, we think about story and character– and if the visual effects aren’t perfect, we forgive it. So maybe the reason why people seem to think visual effects are ruining movies isn’t really a problem with visual effects… Maybe it’s a problem with the movies themselves.

For more reading, take a look at Cinefex (http://www.cinefex.com/), which is a quarterly published by the VFX industry that goes into incredible depth and detail about the VFX process for current movies. FXGuide.com (http://www.fxguide.com/) is a great blog about visual effects with great interviews and articles. Finally, if you're really curious where the best visual effects are - don't look at the Oscars. Look instead at the Visual Effects Society awards (https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/ves-awards) and nominations - they are awards judged by the people who know VFX best - artists actually working in the industry.

And if all this discussion about visual effects has set your heart aflutter, do me a favor. Next time you go see a movie, stick around and look at the credits and marvel at how many artists work goes into the visual effects for your typical movie. It’s astounding, and probably much more interesting than some lame post credits sequence, anyway.


VFX Breakdowns From:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (DSH)

Gravity (Framestore)

Iron Man (ILM, The Orphanage, The Embassy)

Jurassic Park (The Stan Winston School)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Digital Domain)

King Kong (Weta)

The Avengers (ILM)

Independence Day

Rango (ILM)


Movie Clips From:

  • Transformers
  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Avatar
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Jurassic Park
  • Dark Knight Rises
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Mummy Returns
  • I Am Legend
  • Forrest Gump
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Lone Survivor
  • Ugly Betty
  • Independence Day
  • The Avengers
  • King Kong
  • Zodiac
  • Iron Man
  • Rango
  • Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • The Matrix Revolutions
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Kon-Tiki
  • The Abyss
  • Titanic
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • Lucy
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Godzilla
  • The Social Network
  • District 9
  • Gravity
  • Transformers
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Life of Pi
  • Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
  • The Invisible Man
  • Jaws
  • Jason and the Argonauts
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Labyrinth
  • The Matrix
  • The Frighteners
  • The Mummy
  • 300
  • Batman Begins
  • A Trip to the Moon
  • Elysium

Discussion