CGI vs practical

Someone asked my opinion on the great CGI vs practical debate.

Well, here it is.

When I open my toolbox at work, I can pull out my favorite hammer. I can use it to drive a rusty nail into old termite-eaten wood.

rusty nail

rusty nail

Or I could use it to make a celtic-knot based throne chair for a dwarven king.

dwarven celtic knot throne chair

dwarven celtic knot throne chair

The hammer doesn’t care. And my craftsmen are not standing around arguing if we should all use hammers or not. It is just a tool.

That is how I feel about CGI. It is another tool in the box to make your film. I personally like practical effects better, but I am a practical guy. I like building stuff, crafting props and costumes. And I also don’t know much about CGI so I can’t really use it too much in my films. But I do use the computer a lot to add backgrounds, photoshop work, change lighting, erase flying rigs, composite green screen effects, etc.

I have seen some crappy CGI effects, and some practical effects that looked horrible as well. I have also seen some amazing CGI and some amazing practical effects. And if done properly, you won’t ever see either one or won’t be able to tell them apart.

I would love to have the space and budget to build a 10,000 strong orc army and have them march down a fiery hillside towards my hero goblin tribe. Yeah, that would be cool. But I have neither the money or resources to do something like that. So, in that case, CGI might save the day.

orc army

orc army

But if goblin wants to escape in a pirate ship, maybe that is something I could do in a miniature.

goblin ship

goblin ship

I am very much a “use what you have available” kind of guy. Alone on and island, I will use a stick to open a coconut and not wait for a electric bandsaw. So, use what you have available to you. If you are stuck in a tiny studio apartment, in Denmark, with 10 feet of snow outside, and CGI is available to you, then by all means, use it to make your film. If you have a creepy old barn on your property with 20 friends that have orc costumes and real swords, then by all means, use that.

If I ran a huge film studio, and had unlimited resources to make my film, I would hope the only question I would ask, when wondering which method to use to get a shot, would be “which one looks the best?”

Most of you reading this blog are limited in resources in one way or another. So, use what you can to get your film in the can.

Go ahead, make a mess, use what you can, have some fun.

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One response to “CGI vs practical

  1. Alicia DR Hankins

    Use what you have is a great concept for hobbyist! I get hung up on not having a particular thing and can get bogged down, nearly at a stoppage. Best to move on, create, invent, keep going! What a way to motivate and press on!

    Like

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