Sheesh Gee Eye

Not much irks me (ahem), but one of the things that’s really been acquiring my mountain-dwelling sheep-like creature recently is this:

“There was too much CGI in it.”

What does that mean? In fact, I’d contend that the utterer of such vacuous tripe doesn’t even really know what it means. I’ve most recently heard it vomited after the Indiana Jones film, which I really enjoyed, in an attempt to dismiss it as a true contender in the series. And it’s utter pap. The finale of Raiders Of The Lost Ark implemented the cutting edge of current technology in order to tell a story. Think of the melting face, the light show, and even the matte painting of the final warehouse shot.

The entire art of filmmaking is the use of available equipment in order to tell a compelling story. What people understand as “CGI” is just one weapon in the arsenal. Christ, you wouldn’t ever complain that Toy Story had too much CGI in it, in the same way you wouldn’t say it needed more outdated optical rotoscoping.

I think there are important discussions to be had about the way computers have impacted on film making, and none of them include whether Batman’s cape looks better made of rubber or generated in the computer.

It’s quite possible that the latest cinema release this week is one hundred percent CGI, even if it hasn’t got a talking dinosaur in it. A computer generated image is just that, an image generated by a computer. Even the most basic of colour correction will be done using digital equipment now. If this wasn’t done, individual shots within the scene would not visually match, thus breaking down the suspension of disbelief and destroying the entire viewing experience. Colour correction has been used since the inception of colour film, but no one ever thought too many chemicals were used to process The Wizard Of Oz.

There’s talk of a new Robocop move in the pipeline. And inevitably, fears are being expressed that Robo will be CGI. This is a moot point. I’m more concerned about the story, and how that story can be visually realised. “Well, this latest Robocop film did have its protagonist stare at a dripping tap for two hours, but at least the suit was painted plastic wrapped around an actor, goddamit.”

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