Cgi in Film (Opinion piece)

Whenever I’m in a conversation about film most people are quick to complain about the cgi (Computer Generated Images) and tell me how much it ruined the movie. Most think that cgi is typically just for showy over the top summer blockbusters. Many older viewers I have regular discussions with and or work with are quick to say how cgi is ruining films and films used to be better when they use to use “practical effects”. That filmmakers need to go back to using more of them and that cgi are the downfall of modern movie making.

However I disagree. The reason people think cgi is bad is because they only “notice” the bad cgi. When cgi is done well and complimented by great acting and solid storytelling people will rarely notice or recognize when cgi is used. “C.G.I., in the hands of master filmmakers and wizardly animators, opens up worlds of possibility that previously existed only in our imaginations. And much like great acting, it does so without ever drawing attention to itself.” — Woody Schultz. Nine time out of ten, people would never think that cgi was added to a scene. The reason for this is because cgi is meant to help tell a story and if a filmmaker knows what their doing, they’ll use cgi as a function that serves the story and character. By doing this, by its very definition, the cgi should go unnoticed and only add to the films core elements, setting, characters, theme.

Now this isn’t to say that practical effects aren’t still useful and beautiful now as they were back then. Practical effects are still great, and cgi can help make it better and vise versa. These too effect elements and cater to the others strengths and weaknesses. A great example of this is the movie “Mad Max: Fury Road” directed by George Miller. A lot of people believe it was for, the most part, done with nothing but practical effects, but it might surprise everybody to hear that cgi was used throughout the entire movie! No, I’m not talking about the sandstorm thats clearly cgi, but the scenes showing the caravan travel through the canyon, or the insane amount of cars in any giving scene, that was all added in post with cgi and layers. Check out where Dante O’razio talks a little more about this and shows before and after images. Another great example is the movie the Bourne Ultimatum when the main hero is in the middle of Rome racing his car in between traffic, the majority of that traffic except for maybe a handful of cars was all added in with cgi.

The fact of the matter is modern movies are full of special computer generated effects. Probably more then people realize, and while you can blame the whole Hollywood industry for making movies bad cause of their use of cgi or special effects your really not looking at the real problem. Do you ever wonder why you never see a great movie with awful cgi or that classic movies that are way outdated using special effects never bother you or anyone else. The answer is because these movies are so good at crafting a story and telling it that it transports us to these worlds and characters and we’re not in the back of our heads looking for things to nitpick, not looking for an excuse to hate that movie. Special effects, cgi, isn’t supposed to carry a movie, its supposed to help support and compliment the story, characters and theme. If the movie is bad maybe its not just the cgi that’s ruining it but the filmmaker that’s ruining the story.

Sources Cited

Ramano, A. (2015, May 30). This guide to visual effects in ‘Mad Max’ will change the way you think about CGI. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from

Schultz, W. (2013, March 12). C.G.I. Has Inspired a New Era of Filmmaking. Retrieved January/February, 2016, from

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