Wednesday, June 14, 2006

End of an Era

ILM is shutting down their physical effects unit, meaning that the triumph of CGI is nearly complete.

It's sad not because CGI isn't great, but because there is still a place for models and miniatures--see the amazing work with Minas Morgul and Orthanc in the LoTR series.


Anonymous said...

Sic transit gloria mundi.

arrScott said...

Two specific reasons this is sad:

1. CGI still cannot convincingly capture the physics of certain body motions that physical effects can simulate perfectly.

2. The limitations of physical effects have often served to force filmmakers to focus on storytelling instead of losing sight of the story amid the boundless possibilities of digital. Witness George Lucas. Sure, three X-wings flying past the camera in a straight line wasn't a very dynamic shot. But the Battle of Yavin is one of the best aerial combat sequences in film history, where the little model spaceships tell a compelling and coherent battle narrative. The all-digital space battles of his later trilogy are dynamic to the point of awe, but they're also incoherent messes of random motion and glitter. In other words, pointless, masturbatory crap. The same comparison holds between physical-effects Chewbacca and CGI Jar-Jar Binks. Quite often, artists are better served by technical limitation than by technical liberation.