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The Importance of CGI in film today

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on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of The Importance of CGI in film today

Wilson Tai Kai Chung

So what do these films have in common? Why are they so popular? The answer is obvious. All these films were CGI films

Digital technology, such as computer generated imagery (CGI) has been a growing trend and is increasingly used in conjunction with not only animation, but also with live action films.

CGI opens up film making to many new and different possibilities that could not normally be shown or experienced without a good imagination. According to Christian Darkin, an illustrator and animator and has written five books and countless magazine articles about visual effects. In one of his articles he mentioned,

Importance of CGI
CGI technology now has a lead over other special effect methods. Why? For one, CGI is not only safer, it’s also cost-friendly and allows the filmmaker to have greater control over a production. Why risk someone’s life with a mechanical effect if you can shoot it safely and quicker in a controlled environment with CGI?
CGI Film vs Narrative Film
Tom Sherak, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences explained the importance and impact of CGI technologies during an interview.
Bibliography
Andrew Darley (2000) Visual Digital Culture: Surface Play and Spectacle in New Media Genres. Routledge.

Box office mojo (2012) Yearly Box Office[online]
Available at: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/
[Accessed 10th OCT, 2013]

Lyn Bailey (2013) CGI in Films [blog] September 3rd, 2013
Available at: http://lynbaileyreflectivejournal.wordpress.com/category/cgi-in-films/
[Accessed 10th OCT, 2013]

GRAEME MCMILLAN (2009)Does CGI Ruin Movies? [online]
Available at: http://io9.com/5411842/does-cgi-ruin-movies
[Accessed 9th OCT, 2013]

VIKAS SHAH (2011)The Role of Film in Society [blog] JUNE 19th, 2011
Available at: http://thoughteconomics.blogspot.com/2011/06/role-of-film-in-society.html
[Accessed 5th OCT, 2013]

Finn Orfano (2011) Importance of Digital Technology in Films[online]
Available at: http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/video/articles/60023.aspx
[Accessed 8th OCT, 2013]

Sigurd Kvernmoen(2010) A Computer Generated History [online]
Available at: http://www.cinesyn.com/a-computer-generated-history/
[Accessed 19th OCT, 2013]

Mike Lee (2012) Christopher Nolan Talks IMAX, 3D & CGI in Movies [online]
Available at: http://screenrant.com/christopher-nolan-imax-3d-cgi-mlee-164945/
[Accessed 10th OCT, 2013]

Stacey Abbott(2010)Science Fiction Studies [online]
Available at: http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/98/abbott98.html
[Accessed 4th OCT, 2013]

Kaitlin Bernard(2011) BETWEEN REALITY AND REALISM: CGI AND NARRATIVE IN HOLLYWOOD CHILDREN’S FILMS



History of CGI Film
CGI began as Fragmentation Animation. In 1967 an artist named Charles Csuri started making animation by using his drawings as the foundation for his creative exploration with the computer. With this exploration came the film known as Hummingbird. This film is among one of the first to be made using CGI.

Early Cinema
Cinema was officially born in at December 28, 1895, when the Lumiere brothers in Paris opened the world first movie theater. in 1899, French magician Georges Melies made himself literally disappear in his short film, The Conjurer, by stopping and restarting the camera and splicing effects were very difficult, and significant deliberate effort was needed to put them in a film.

Productions could only afford effects essential to project. A new negative was optically created by multiple exposures to the different previously filmed effects elements.


Acknowledge the Importance of CGI
Box Office
Statistic Comparison
"The Dark Knight Riseses" and "Iron man 3" are both super hero movies from the Marvel. in these two films, "The Dark Knight Rises" were made with extremely minimal use of CGI. In the other hand, "iron man 3" was made big-budget blockbuster. So i made a comparison between these movies based on box office statistic.
The Importance of CGI in Film Today
According to the worldwide box office statistic, in year 2009, Avatar hit the world top grossing film with the amount of $2,782,275,172 worldwide. Not long ago. in year 2012, The Avengers hit the world top 3 grossing film worldwide and top 1 of the year. Not to mention Transformers, Ironman, Toy story, Harry Potter were all the films that hit the top grossing film every year.
Introduction
Evolution of CGI
CGI Culture

"Things have come a long way since "Walking with Dinosaurs".
3d animation, motion graphics, CGI and visual effects are now a regular part of many films. ...... computer animation and CGI is now routinely used in almost any situation where shot footage isn't available."(Christian Darkin )
Essay Planning Presentation
CGI has changed a lot since its start in the late 60's with an animated drawing of a bird using a computer to where it is today. There have been many important firsts in CGI such as the animated wireframe graphic of the death star trench in Star Wars or the first use of CGI in a title sequence in Superman The Movie.

CGI has only been around for about 40 to 50 years but it is such an integral part of film making today. CGI opens up film making to many new and different possibilities that could not normally be shown or experienced without a good imagination.
The Beginning of CGI
First use of 3D CGI
After these first steps into discovering the possibilities of CGI George Lucas saw it’s possibilities and conceived the popular Star Wars franchise which made use of top edge CGI effects at the time and many that were never seen before. The 1977 movie became a huge box office hit and became an inspiration for many CGI effects that followed.
First fully CGI Animated Film
Disney collaborated with the animation company Pixtar to create the first ever fully animated film called "A Toy Story"

The fact that this movie was created in full CGI animation and looked as exceptional as it did, opened the doors to the future of what could be created using Computer Graphics Imagery.
First Physically Textured CGI
Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it's the 27th most magical moment in cinema history. It was so breathtaking that physically textured dinosaurs so realistic, it felt like they might come out of the screen. Jurassic Park made a big breakthrough to the future of film Industry. since then, more and more 3D CGI films came out
Conclussion
As conclusion, CGI is the symbol of future in film industry, Since its beginnings in the 1960's, CGI has advanced just as quickly as the technology needed to make CGI possible. CGI started with animation as simple as deformation and reformation but has come to the point where feature length films rely on CGI to make the dreams of directors into reality.

Today we can even make feature length movies entirely comprising of CGI. As technology continues to progress, so too will CGI and the techniques used to capture objects from the real world and render them in the computer generated worlds of film.
CGI make Impossible Possible
"You look at Iron Man, you look at Star Wars, you look at The Lord of the Rings, they would never have been able to have done those without CGI. CGI gets overused sometimes, but the truth is that it is an incredible tool for telling fantastic stories that you would never in the past have been able to tell." (Martin Campbell)
In an interview with the director of "Green Lantern". Martin Campbell talks about CGI.
Digital animation, or CGI in movies has allowed filmmakers and animators to tell stories in a different way. CGI has allow the filmmakers to create a fantasy world that no one can ever imagine to enhance the story quality.


CGI make story telling in style
When Jurassic Park was released in 1993, CGI was still largely unproven both in the industry and at the box office. Hollywood was hesitant to gamble on high-tech special effects. This was because audiences had not accepted CGI yet as anything more than a novelty.

As journalist David Morgan observed in 1993,


Which is why for most CGI films, its effects didn't so much sweep audiences away yet elicited the audiences reaction with "How did they do that?".
"audiences were always aware that what they were watching was carefully crafted special effects."
As technology advanced and effects artist grew more skillful, it became much more reasonable to put in effects for spectacle as well as to create more believable action. visual effects were able to provide filmmakers the tool to create whole new world in which stories could take place. with the introduction of computers to filmmaking in the 1980s, the world of possibilities got even larger.
CGI Commercials
After the great discover of CGI in films, TV commercials had also taken advantages of CGI and started to make CGI commercials. The first ever created CGI commercial in 1984 - "Brilliance" by Ketcham Advertising. Since then. more and more CGI commercials has been made to enhance the quality and style of their commercials.
Visual Digital Culture
"In mid 1980s that a clear trend, based squarely upon a revitalized resurgence in special effects techniques becomes discernible in the production of these high budget and intensively media-hyped movies. This impulse has, undoubtedly, been prompted and underpinned by various developments in digital image technologies. .... As we start the new century the extraordinary growth of this kind of film shows no sign of slowing down." (Andrew Darley, 2000: 102)
Video Games Based on CGI Films
CGI Music Videos
Eventually, CGI technology had as well used by the music video industries. The first music video that used CGI is "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits in 1985. Same goes to music video, CGI enhanced the quality of music and made them more interesting.
Most of the CGI films had developed video games based on their own story as an additional promotional tie-ins. The result turned out to be a successful medium. Games such as Star Wars, Tomb Raider, and Toy Story are some of the well-known film based video games.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Eidos Interactive, a British video game publisher, announced that The Tomb Raider video games have together sold over 35 million units, making it one of the best-selling video game series of all time.

According to box office statistic, the global grossing of this film hit top 1 under the Video Game Adaptation category and top 15 most grossing film in year 2001 with total $274,703,340
Advancement of CGI
Tron 1982 vs 2010
Tron was a science-fiction film released by Walt Disney Productions. 28 years later, they remade the movie with higher definition. The result was a box office success, grossing $74 million (double the grossing in 1982) The image below shows the differences of the CGI technology in 1982 and 2010
With the advancement of 3D graphics, filmmakers are able to do stunning photorealistic CGI completely in real-time, which could very well be good enough for the future films. Compare to the 1970s, CGI today has reached a higher level which is so breathtakingly real.
"It's important to remember that our organisation is the Academy of Arts and Sciences, not just arts. The Science part of the mix is just as important as anything else. The technology of movies, from the beginning has been important. This thing called 'sound' revolutionised films. Remember, we started with silent movies- and then sound came along and took movies to a place that the telephone took society, wow- we have sound!" (Tom Sherak 2011)
"So if we look at the idea of technology and what technology does for the movies? technology allows movies to take stories to places where they couldn't have gone before, and that technology helps escapism- which is why, ultimately, you go to the movies." (Tom Sherak 2011)
Recently, there were many argument against the overuse of CGI. Many said that the CGI had detracted the importance story in cinema. Some even said that CGI ruined the film. As far as I could see in my research, people who disagree the overuse of CGI, far more than people who accept it. So is CGI really that bad that would affect the future of film industry?

It's true that movies were originally made based on narrative stories, movies are people who come out with ideas about something they want to say, something they want to tell someone. That was and has been the purpose why cinema was built in the first place by the Lumier Brothers. But not long since then, the first visual effect film was made by Georges Méliès. Illusion and tricks were shown in the film to fool the audiences. It was the first film that made without narrative and yet his magic film had became so well known

Same goes to CGI today. CGI was made as illusion and tricks to fool the audience into seeing something seamless, eliciting t "wow! how did they do that?" However, back then, there have no problem of people standing up and say visual effect will ruined the originality meaning of film.
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan admits that he uses CGI in his films, but he uses it to tell the story instead of making it a large-scale visual spectacle. As a result the global grossing of The Dark Knight Rises hit $1,084,439,099
Iron Man 3
In the other hand, Shane Black, director of Iron man made the film a big-budget blockbuster. In return, the global grossing hit $1,214,713,994
CGI not so Important?
There are few directors that do not agreed that CGI plays such important role in film. I do not denial them, what they said have had their point. The improperly use of cgi can really ruin the film. In fact, they are the experienced directors that made amazing films.
"However sophisticated your computer-generated imagery is, if it’s been created from no physical elements and you haven’t shot anything, it’s going to feel like animation. ......... The problem for me is if you don’t first shoot something with the camera on which to base the shot, the visual effect is going to stick out if the film you’re making has a realistic style or patina. I prefer films that feel more like real life" (Christopher Nolan 2013)
"You can get greedy and what I’ve learned is that CGI never replaces the real thing."
(Justin Lin 2013)
Christopher Nolan
Director of "The Dark knight Rises" and "Inception"
Justin Lin
Director of "Fast and the Furious" talked avout Fast and the Furious in an interview.
Resources Media
carlrodney(2007)History of cgi[online video]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSXhoCCggB8
[Accessed 15th OCT 2013]

tipoomaster(2011)Above Everything Else - Mind explodingly realistic CGI by Alex Roman[online video]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZOnrN4x0Zk
[Accessed 14th OCT 2013]

The Cgbros(2012)CGI CGI VFX Spot HD: "Bio-Morph" for NIKE [online video]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJPFZDfqn6A
[Accessed 15th OCT 2013]

D.R. Cho (2009) Brilliance (1985) [online video]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1cqc2AykmI
[Accessed 18th OCT 2013]

Linkin Park(2012)Linkin Park - BURN IT DOWN[online video]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxytyRy-O1k
[Accessed 16th OCT 2013]

Full transcript