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This “WETA Effect” Video Is The Dumbest Thing You’ll See All Week

Everyone is talking about this video — and for all the wrong reasons:

There’s so many layers of dumb piled atop each other that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin peeling back. We might begin with the illogical premise of the video, which is that as visual effects artists have begun to create “seamless, lush, and eye-popping environments…the power of the movies seems to plateau.” How has this subjective “power of the movies” peaked? The author, an anonymous individual who goes by Storybrain, believes that the evidence for plateauing movie quality lies in…brace yourselves…IMDB scores, which he proudly displays onscreen, complete with authoritative arrows drawn to highlight the scores.

If you’re still conscious after banging your head repeatedly against the wall, the video maker then proceeds to make up a nonsensical term — the “WETA effect” — and theorizes about why one part of a film frame from the 2003 Hulk film is superior to a part of another frame from the 2008 Incredible Hulk.

Tony Zhou, creator of the highly regarded Every Frame A Painting video series, called the video “genuinely awful” on his Twitter. “I think he’s taken a feeling (modern blockbusters are worse) and then chosen a target (VFX or CGI) w/out understanding film,” Zhou wrote.

Other industry pros were unsurprisingly harsh, too. Todd Vaziri, a compositing supervisor at ILM, made this sardonic comment on Twitter:

Director Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone) had advice for anyone else thinking of making videos like this:

Now, you might ask, who cares? There’s as many dumb think pieces on YouTube as there are teenagers with access to a webcam and video editing software. What’s one more ill-informed potshot at the visual effects community?

Except, remember, vfx — like animation — is hardly understood by the entertainment media, much less the general public. So all of a sudden, this video equivalent of a high school essay has received over 730,000 views. More appallingly, major news outlets have picked it up and begun spinning the video like some deep truth has been revealed about how films are made.

“Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself at the end, ‘Why did they have to ruin it with so many special effects?’ It turns out there’s a term for that,” proclaimed Ebony Bowden, an entertainment reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. “A new video…offers a rational explanation for the bludgeoning cumulative impact of so much CGI in contemporary movies,” wrote Joe Berkowitz of Fast Company.

The journalists who wrote about this video either ignored or were unaware themselves that the person who made this video doesn’t fundamentally understand visual effects, CGI, or filmmaking. There’s plenty of tip-offs. When someone makes a statement as factually inaccurate as, “Around 2004, software passed the point where it could integrate individual CGI objects will fully rendered computer generated backgrounds,” that’s a sign to put on your critical thinking cap, not to use the video as the basis for your own uninformed rant.

It’s clear that many filmgoers are tired of Hollywood’s obsession with overwrought, soulless spectacle, and they are looking for places to cast their blame. But blaming visual effects artists for a perceived decline in the emotional quality of films is as misguided as blaming a cow for the poor taste of a fast food burger.

There’s no doubt that more critical discussion is needed about vfx artistry. Sadly, there’s little hope of engaging the public in this discussion when even the media that covers film and technology is too clueless to distinguish between fanboy whining and enlightened commentary.

  • Covarr

    What about Pixar and the like? They produce pure CGI movies and nobody complains about it.

    The bigger problem with modern filmmaking is that executives are building to formulas and hiring writers that will play ball rather than hiring writers to make interesting movies with complex, believable characters. CGI is really a very minor factor. If your writing is good enough, you can have terrible CGI and it won’t detract too much (RWBY). If your writing is bad enough, you can have wonderful CGI and it won’t fix the movie (King Kong).

    A lot more goes into filmmaking than special effects, and to try to blame just special effects for an overall decline is ludicrous.

    • Enemynarwhal

      People do complain about Pixar relying on CGI. Well, I know quite a few people who very strongly prefer traditional animation. I don’t know how many other people care though.

    • Full Angel Verde

      I think CGI plays a really important role in this.
      Why? Ok, make a comparision between the polar express characters and the incredibles. For you, Which ones are more comfortable to watch? Maybe your answer is The incredibles. That is because the uncanny valley effect. When you create something fake, trying to look real, it can be easily regected, so in this point you can do 2 thing: 1.- Stylize or 2.- Push
      For example a dinosaur.If you stylize you got something like the dinosaurs of Ice age 3. If you push you got something like Jurassic World. And the lowet point in the uncanny valley can go to Disney’s Dinosaurs. And even in that movie the carnotaurus was more appealing than Aladar and the lemur family

      • Enemynarwhal

        I was watching Inside Out and I noticed that the characters basically looked weightless a lot of the time. That doesn’t happen as much in Tartakovsky for example (though it periodically happens) because his films commits more to cartoon acting, which essentially changes the ways the characters move and position themselves and thus changes the way their weight is perceived.

        It’s hard to animate something realistically because people have so many details that it’s impossible to mirror that, but you can use certain concepts to your advantage, find an unrealistic way to move them, and give them a sense of life all the same. I find that the more art commits to unrealistic rules of expression and representation the more I get from it.

    • starss

      People don’t complain about Pixar movies because they’re NOT trying to look real.

    • JJ

      Is that Pixar question serious?

      People don’t complain about Pixar and the like because they make animated films. Nobody expects animated films to look like they were shot in live action.

      People complain about VFX in live action films because live action films are supposed to look real. People want to believe they’re seeing a real picture of the Hulk. They don’t go to the movies to be reminded that he doesn’t exist.

      I can’t think of a counter example to your idea that good writing can usually survive bad effects, though. Spot on. “ReBoot” comes to mind for me.

  • Anson J

    I could barely get through this incomprehensible piece of twaddle. 730000 views? Frightening.

  • Enemynarwhal

    There are so many things wrong with Hollywood blockbusters that to pick one thing and blame the quality of the film on it is ludicrous.

    I would also argue that it is more important for art to be more lush and beautiful than believable. I’m going to say I really don’t like the usage of CGI in Hannibal because it looks so cheap and awful but because of the poetic resonance of the violence and trauma and the way in which CGI allows that to be shown I’m okay with the fabrication and reliance on digital means because the idea is beautiful.

  • I actually think the video author’s thesis has some legitimacy. It reminds me of the “which Superman would you rather see” video, or the comparison of images from the original and new Jurassic Park. Movies today do use an incredible amount of color correction, as well as far more layers of special effects than filmmakers used to use.

    Among many other reasons, I preferred the Lord of the Rings trilogy over the Hobbit partly because its use of models and prosthetics made the world feel more believable. Chris Nolan is an example of a director I suspect might agree with some of the sentiment in this video. He still prefers to shoot on real sets and create practical special effects for elements that many other filmmakers would probably use CGI for. (Check out a video on YouTube of his amazing Tesserect set.)

    There is still something more real about real footage. We can create stunning, realistic graphics in CGI. However sometimes the constraint of not using that power to create something that could not exist in the real world, can make movies more believable and entertaining.

    Yes, the video is not perfect. It’s a homemade video that is apparently being taken very seriously. I don’t know if the filmmaker ever meant for people to take what he wrote as a complete, scientific, authoritative analysis. To me, there are a lot of factors driving the quality of some blockbusters down (reboots, sequels, lack of logical storytelling or world-building), and there have always been crummy blockbusters. So I would disagree with the video author’s assertions that quality of films is definitely going down and especially that this is due primarily to use of CGI. But I do agree that it’s possible film quality is going down (I would just need a more thorough analysis), and I definitely agree that one part of it is due to the over-use of CGI.

    • Ravlic

      He has a point that the environments got more fancied up to keep up with the cgi leading to less realistic environments, the problem is he’s using this to justify his irrational nostalgia. As for films relying too much on special effects to draw in the audiences, this is pretty much common knowledge. People started going to cinemas for action-packed movies that aren’t the same being watched at home.

      There are movies that rely on special effects thinking that’s the only thing they need (hardly a new concept. Waterworld anyone?). This is not what the video is arguing for, it’s arguing that this effect of greenscreening everything, not just the overuse of special effects, is the direct cause of movies being critical (wrong) and financial failures (Really? Movies make more money now than ever).

      Claiming that the audiences can’t suspend their disbelief because of that is just ridiculous. Are you going to tell me people can’t tolerate Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jurassic world because they’re too cgi and unreal so nobody could get into them? What, were action movies of the 80’s masterpieces because they had no cgi in them? I don’t like the 2003 Hulk. It looks awkward because it’s obviously cgi on real backgrounds and until cgi becomes good enough to really truly fool us into thinking that that computer puppet is an actual living thing, I see no problem with giving us a fantastic atmosphere to go with fantastic characters. It’s what cartoons do after all.

    • Arpan Malviya

      Not even having seen the video (which I’m sure is as bad as the article says), I think overuse of CGI is a real thing and one which is harming movies. E.g. the Burj al Dubai scene in MI4 had no sense of excitement for me because I “knew” that it was all done in front of a green screen (even though that was not the case). I imagine doing real stunts still has good value and I totally agree – LOTR with its realistic CGI was much better than the Hobbit

      • Mightyflog

        I think this was actually shot in real life and not cgi. There is a making of behind the scenes on it and Ton Cruise actually did a lot of his stunts on it. Is this the scene where he is on the side of the building?

  • hmmmm someone thinking…I wonder how that will go over here….

  • The most revealing statement is the “Computers in 2003 could only handle a single character”, ignoring the fact that, you know, The Matrix Reloaded came out that year (massive army of CG smiths on screen) or Lord of the Rings (massive armies again on screen), Pirates of the Caribbean (LOTS of cg characters in that one), the list goes on and on.

    This “Think” piece (I use think very loosely here) shows absolutely NO research and as stated above absolutely no understanding of the craft or the industry.

    I’d say it’s even worse than the guy that did the video on how color grading was destroying movies…

    • Steven Brooks

      Agreed. This is a terrible OPINION piece.

      • the enigmatic RJD

        this piece is maybe more asinine than the original. using the cow analogy is borderline lunacy. we are not talking about the cow but how the steak was made, and i do not need knowledge of how its made to know that it is done and i dont enjoy it

  • j parks

    I left the industry for exactly this reason – even if the video author can’t express himself properly.

  • HalSolo

    Bah, not even a million views. That’s not lighting any pop cultural flames.
    Besides, in the question of which Hulk do you prefer (the Ang Lee or the Ed Norton one) the answer is HULK from The Avengers – they perfectly married the exaggerated look of the classic Hulk comics with the actor Mark Ruffalo. Third time was the charm.

  • David

    This article is the dumbest thing I’ve come across all week. The person who made the video is not “blaming” the vfx artists, but simply pointing out that the over use of vfx is definitely something that takes one out of the film, and he is 100% correct on that premise. Instead of using ad hominem, what the author of this article should have done as a professional writer is simply point out that one should not misinterpret the video and what is truly ruining the film industry. The latter topic is worthy of a video itself.
    As for the ‘Punisher: Warzone’ director’s tweets, she should prioritize her time to make a good film first, instead of spending time on Twitter.

    • HalSolo

      PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is great. It presents the PUNISHER as a flat out psychopath, not some cool character to root for, and is one of the closest things we’ve gotten to a Paul Verhoven style action movie since STARSHIP TROOPERS.
      Her opinion is 100% valid. She actually used VFX on a lower budget well in that movie. I agree the whole movie is crazy stylized, but it actually evokes a certain era of MARVEL KNIGHTS comic artwork.

    • cartoonguy

      I agree with you and with the premise that overuse of computer VFX is lessening the impact of these movies. There’s a reason the new Star Wars movie is dialing back the use of green screen in favor of more location shooting. But, this is an animation-focused site, and I don’t think Amid knows how to write an article that isn’t inflammatory or hyperbolic.

  • Daniel

    … and also who is Tony Zhao? He’s a professional gaffer/key grip for the short “Butterfly” who has a “highly regarded” channel called Every Frame a Painting.. There are tons of people without a lot of credibility getting a lot of exposure for their opinions..

  • guest

    A lot of people are just clueless on how many visual effects are used in movies, even non-fantasy ones. Every film uses VFX to some degree, most so subtle that audiences don’t even notice. The key is on how good the VFX people are in integrating their work with actual footage, so that the audience doesn’t notice the effects are there.

    Obviously, this isn’t going to work as well in a fantasy film, because the nature of the film already requires a massive suspension of disbelief. Intrinsically, we know that a guy in spandex can’t fly, so blaming the VFX people for “ruining” the movie with CGI is ridiculous. Using CGI isn’t the problem. In fact movies, especially fantasy ones, look a hell of a lot better with the advent of CGI than they did pre-CGI.

    Visual Effects artists can only ruin a movie if they are not given the resources to do the job right or if they are pushing the limits of the technology that they have available to them. Movies are ruined by suits who think they know how to make a film better than the creative personnel working on it.

    Rushed scripts, rushed shooting schedules and executive interference ruin more movies than visual effects artists and CGI ever could.

  • Erica

    The main problem isn’t that the creator doesn’t know VFX. It’s that there is so little research into the actual reception of the movies he’s quoting. People loved Avatar’s look but called it a “Pocahontas/Fern Gully” remake on kinder days. People always say that the look of the Star Wars prequel was fantastic but didn’t like Anakin’s whining/Jar Jar’s everything/ etc. And honestly, all credibility in this theory died when they pointed to the 2003 Hulk movie as being more digestible than the 2008 one.

    In each of these cases, it’s the STORY that people have reacted against. That fact and the repeatability of the script are what made these movies successes or failures. 300 was almost all CG but people went bananas for the bravado of the story.

  • @SpitAndSpite

    #The internet is awesome. #The internet sucks.

  • AllenIII

    When something so seemingly comprised of critical thinking goes viral like this I think there is something to it. Even if the logic is flawed in certain instances.

    Real life is full of complex feelings and occurrences which we make sense of through stories, and clearly he has created a compelling story to sum up some of the unease with which audiences are feeling about where things are going. I think it’s gone viral because it touches on a broader societal zeitgeist which is coursing through the culture at the moment; technology is overloading us.

    From worries about robots replacing jobs in the near future, to everyone constantly being on their smart phones; I think there is a feeling amongst the public that if we could just go back 10 years, things would be a lot easier to handle.

    I watched a lecture given by Robert J. Shiller at the London School of Economics recently and he said something that struck me profoundly; the valuation of so many companies is more aligned with the stories the public embraces about how much a company is worth rather than the fundamentals of profit and loss. It’s seemingly obvious when you think about it, but for me it was a profound insight. So here too the validity of the critique may not matter as much as the fact that people believe it’s valid. On a fundamental level, belief is reality when it comes to culture.

    • JJ

      I agree. This is going viral because it’s resonating with people. While it’s got major problems in presentation and research, I’m bothered that CartoonBrew is completely writing off something that’s clearly struck a nerve with a lot of people.

  • Hankenshift

    Agreed. Most of the problem is with the directors and studios, who are lazy and think “more is more.” Things like global illumination hasten these kinds of laziness–as it tends to flatten images out rather than enhance them with lighting as a storytelling device. It’s cheaper and allegedly faster. But it’s most certainly doesn’t LOOK better. It’ just another excuse for bad taste and laziness.

    But all the tools in the world can’t help restraint in storytelling–holding back and giving the audience a sense of anticipation (see Jaws) that helps build suspense and provide wonder.

    Of course, the digital revolution broken in 1995 with Toy Story being the first entirely computer generated film proved one thing: if the audience doesn’t care about the characters, no amount of digital anything will matter.

    Articles/videos like that are truly frustrating in their ignorance.

  • Psdstudios

    I think the point he’s trying to make is what every artist knows and that is, foreground detail/background less detail makes a stronger composition.

  • Ryan Macri

    He must’ve hated that 70’s film The Star Wars, having never visited a Death Star. And how did he fair in the jarring Land of Oz? It’s simple this person, like everyone else just wants a show where typical kids face down to earth, everyday problems in a gritty realistic world, using off the wall magical powers and which is swarming with magic robots. ;)

  • Ryoku240

    I dont mind semi-inaccurate videos such as this, what I do mind are the countless “journalists” and common folk that take it all as “fact”.

  • Strong Enough

    steve jobs would down vote this comment

  • Vin Tastic

    I still agree with the video too. Seeing a lot of the Mad Max Fury Road production shots made me wish they left a lot of the CG and colourising out of it. As much as I enjoyed the film – the whole movie felt like it was filmed on a different planet. Mad Max 2 was so beautiful bc it made the post-apocalypse so real you could feel it.

    • JJ

      Yeah, watching “Fury Road” made me think of the color grading video that all the pros trashed a few weeks back. Sorry, I think he’s right, and “Fury Road” would have looked even more awesome in real color, instead of blue/orange.

  • starss

    Who is this guy? So we professionals are commenting on amateur video opinions now?

  • Rothchild III

    You are all missing the point. The reason cgi is ruining film is clearly because it’s all done in Vancouver now. When vfx was all done in California, it was far superior.

    Call it the subsidy effect.

  • Rothchild III

    I can’t believe I let you make me sit through that video.

    All joking aside, the reason movies stink is because they are written for 16 year olds.

    • ghost71

      Amen Brother! Start a church please!

  • Lewie

    He’s only offering a theory. A lot of his haters are taking this video way to personal.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Color film? What’s left to the imagination?!

      Films with sound? It’ll never be popular.

      What? Record performances for mass viewing or listening? What will become of live performance?

      Printing books?! Wat?

      Ugg make marks on cave wall. Ugg fool.

      • Arpan Malviya

        I take it you have never heard of the crappy movies that came out in color and were made just to showcase the eye-popping colors? Or the talkies that were absolutely ridiculous in their ways to exploit bangs and sound effects? Or 3d gimmick movies from the 90s? Or the early silent movies with no artistic merit apart from the fact that they were showing moving pictures to an audience that had never seen such a thing before?

        The point is – a new medium needs time to mature, and is “always” abused by artists as a way to pull in audience. CGI is new and awesome, and some directors think it is a one way ticket to pull in people with cool world shattering effects. This is why every other movie is about the end of the world and cities being leveled. I think the industry will calm down in a few years and CGI will regain its use as a mature artistic tool rather than the cheap gimmick it is becoming in a lot of movies now.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Guy has no idea what goes into making a film, but Suspension of disbelief has more to do with storytelling than with CGI. And it’s not often I can suspend disbelief in movies anymore, simply because a lot of films are a poorly told story.

  • DBreneman

    Virtually everything this guy says is simple assertion masquerading as objective fact. No college professor worth his or her salt would accept this as an assignment. But that said, I had a distinct reaction to the new Jurassic Whatever and Mad Max Whatever trailers. Digital effects are now too easy. Showing EVERYTHING you can imagine takes a lot of the art out of cinematography. And that, friends, is my ASSERTION.

  • JJ

    I just want to echo what a lot of others have said, that StoryBrain is trying to articulate a pretty common observation but lacks the vocabulary to do so. Unfortunately, he also did pretty poor research to back himself up.

    This video is really just saying “it looks better when it’s real,” which is something echoed by fans (see any comment section about a CGI heavy movie) and professionals (see any interview with Alec Gillis). I obviously don’t mean “make a practical Hulk cause it would look incredible,” but the more you can ground an effect with real images, the easier it will be to suspend disbelief. I don’t think that’s controversial.

    This is something I saw when the “Jurassic World” trailer came out and people commented that everything looked fake compared to “Jurassic Park.” My VFX friends rode out on their high horses saying that was just nostalgia talking, but I don’t think it was. I think people were reacting to massive fake stadiums and sweeping shots of the CGI Visitor Center.

    I think it’s a problem that a poorly articulated and researched video is getting news coverage, but I also don’t think you can just write off his observation. It doesn’t have 700,000+ views because he presented and epiphany; it’s going viral because it’s resonating with people. CGI fatigue is not a new concept, and people feel like he’s describing what they’ve been unable to articulate.

    • REd ForktaiLeffect

      You are spot on. He did state a valid argument but he just lacked the vocabulary to properly back it up. I don’t see why some people don’t get this.

    • Stephen Disney

      Bingo. I think its sad he called it the Weta Effect when Weta fought back (originally) this trend with their use of “Bigatures” in LOTR, but compare LOTR to the Hobbit and the CGI usage just smacks you in the eyeballs… IMHO.

    • I think the issue comes down to camera use. Like lazy camera, many CG films attempt impossible moves. There is something to be said about being more restrained with the camera work. Also the fatigue comes in when many action sequences have very fast very even pacing, they don’t take you on a journey they are just constantly intense which gets tiring. So yes there is an issue with modern film but its not the VFX issue its a direction issue.

  • juan

    when he says the 2004 bit, he shows frames from prometheus… i was like WTF?

  • Michael

    CGI has slowly inspired filmmakers to adapt their style to the effects. Now that they can, the camera FLIES everywhere they want, to ‘show off’ the three-dimensional look of the CGI. Every vista has the camera SWOOPING over it, every scene with CGI monsters has the camera TWIRLING around the action to make it seem more energetic. CGI has made movies less cinematic, and more video-game like.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve worked in the VFX industry for years. Read all of the comments here. Nobody is agreeing on anything. Everyone has their own point of view. That’s exactly how the VFX industry is. Now read the the story 2 past this on the new union contract. At least they could agree on something.

  • Benjamin Arthur

    Obviously his information was poorly researched, but he did tap into an interesting psychological phenomenon that is worth exploring. I have experienced this feeling of being disconnected from highly produced movies filled with special effects, but my take on it is that these films lack the visual contrast of CGI elements inserted into a real-world shot.
    CGI can never actually replicate the real world in all it’s infinite detail (though during the video I did wonder if high resolution 3d scans of real-world landscapes would become part of future movies) and perfectly crafted scenery shot after shot begins to wear down the believability of movies that are attempting to convince us that we’re witnessing real-world events. When we shift into a stylized animated world, like a Pixar or Dreamworks movie, I find it much more easy to accept, because it’s not trying to convince me that this is a place that real people are supposed to exist within. In this way, a highly stylized and animated movie like the “Lego Movie” becomes MORE convincing to me than a movie like “The Avengers”.

  • Googamp32

    I was hoping that this guy was going to talk about how practical effects are better than CGI and should be used more. If that was the case, I’d say that he has a point. However, since he was just talking nonsense, this video was a complete waste of time and energy!

    • Joe

      Practical effects aren’t better than CGI in every respect. They have a greater physical presence, and I wouldn’t prefer CGI in place of something that could convincingly be done practically, like a car crash or an explosion, but things like creature effects it’s kind of a tossup. CGI is great at animating things like bone and muscle in a way that something like animatronics and puppetry can’t replicate as well. Look at Yoda up there. Is puppet Yoda more believable because he’s a puppet rather than a CGI creation? I’d argue that he isn’t. He’s more believably there, but he’s believably there as a puppet. The facial expressions lack the complexity and the eyes lack the life that the CGI version have. Everything around it is what makes the original puppet better, not necessarily just the fact that it’s a practical effect.

      Same thing with a newer effect like Rocket Raccoon. Rocket’s animations are great, especially his face. A practical effect can’t replicate that nearly as well. I think these details get lost or just ignored in these discussions because the imperfections of compositing a digital image are so readily apparent, and since that’s what people look at first when comparing CGI to practical effects, they ignore the strengths CGI has over practical effects in certain areas.

      • Ronnie

        I believed Puppet Yoda a hell of a lot more than CGI Yoda, and actually, I think the expressions were what did it for me. It felt real but it didn’t feel YODA, because it was so far removed from the Yoda we knew- if that makes sense. By stripping him of his limits Yoda began to enter an uncanny valley.

  • Ruben

    I think he got side tracked while he just wanted to make a video asking why there has to be such an overload of CGI or special fx in today’s blockbuster movies.

    While his explanation is mind boggling. I do agree on the “less is more” statement. DONT get me wrong. I absolutely love what the VFX studios are doing, but in general movies tend to have a lot of very long, high intensity over the top CGI sequences. Which in my honest opinion, diminish the overall effect of the actual money shots.

    Some movies ofcourse need cgi in every shot. Depending on the movie. But not every shot has to be mindblowingly awesome fantastic masterpiece like! Something most animators and film makers should be able to relate to right?

    The VFX studios are obviously doing the right thing. But i hope somewhere early on in the writing process, someone realises there has to be a nice balance of storytelling and awesome cgi spectacle.

  • Lucky Jim

    30 years ago this guy would be complaining about overuse of matte paintings. “How come they couldn’t have built a real set!”

  • anon

    the original video makes a totally valid point, and something I know to be very true…

  • Ben

    Honestly I thought the video was going to be a lot worse then it was. He’s not really negative on the visual effects industry at all, hell he even ends the video saying that ‘this is a passing thing as we wait for the visual effects tech to catch up to peoples vision’ kinda thing.

  • Sim x

    Why are people feeding into this?
    The subject assumes that the films of the 90’s were superior to those of the 21st century. There’s no argument to begin with.

  • bob

    for once i agree with amid’s vitriol!

  • ghost71

    After reading most of the comments here, my conclusion is this. Hollywood needs to focus on striking a delicate balance between story telling and CG. This along with a heavy dose of going back to the basics of how to effect the emotions of the viewers with color and lighting based on color theory rather than “what’s my favorite color grading technique”.

    On the side of the pros, visual effects are a very subtle and amazing thing and you can’t expect novices to understand it. However you can never ignore “emotions” of the fans, because once that happens the foundation for generating effects in the first place is lost. Fans should not learn more about visual effects, but rather we as artists should stay informed about what fans feel.

    The keys to entertainment lie in knowing what fans want and feel. So unless we’re creating for our own viewing pleasure we can’t afford to leave the viewers out of the equation just because they are not visual effects pros.

  • BlueBoomPony

    I blame the scripts. Finally got around to watching Maleficent last week. Gorgeous looking film, Jolie fit the role, but, my god, the script was an amateurish mess.

    If you set out to tell the “true story” behind a myth or fairy tale, you don’t have to awkwardly derail your story every 15 minutes by trying to force correlation back with original story. You unshackled yourself from it at the start. Go nuts, but just make something internally consistent.

  • Sabretruthtiger

    Yes!!! I’m sick of fanboy critic wannabes desperate to appear knowledgeable about pop culture art ranting on about how bad visual effects are using all the soundbytes they’ve heard such as “uncanny valley” “practical effects are always superior” etc. They even go so far as to say that all the effects in Jurassic Park were superior to Jurassic World, which is factually wrong. The T-Rex in the rain still holds up due to dark lighting and rain. But rewatching the raptors and T-Rex in other scenes, it’s still miles behind the I-Rex.

    I work in feature VFX and the contagious ignorant fanboy VFX rants are getting on my nerves

  • Michele Bertolini

    VFX companies should go on strike. Until majors don’t come back on their knees.

  • Joel Gautraud

    Painful… The Hulk frame comparisons…
    “Which one do you prefer?” he asks.
    Then points out you are wrong if you chose the newer Hulk: “It’s actually the LEFT [older Hulk movie].”

    What? My preference is wrong?

  • JJ

    I half agree with you.

    1. It’s absolutely true that the VFX industry shouldn’t be attacked for it’s over-saturation. Directors should consider the best method to create a realistic effect, and producers should support them when they make that decision. I personally think Jon Favreau, Guillermo Del Toro, and LotR era Peter Jackson display fantastic judgement when it comes to use of VFX. They give us real images (biggatures, puppets, sets) that are enhanced with CGI.

    But that said, I think it absolutely does come down to overuse of CGI. It’s up to the directors (and producers) to create the most believable image, and they’re opting for CGI in many cases.

    Back to “Jurassic Park” vs “Jurassic World.” I bet many people think the original looks better than JW is because most of that film IS REAL. And not just dinosaurs. Environments, sets, everything BUT the dinosaurs. They don’t have to pretend the Visitor’s Center is real because IT IS. JW, on the other hand, is bombarding us with images that don’t exist, and they eye can tell.

    2. I think drawing a comparison between VFX in live action and CGI in animation is a false parallel. People don’t complain about over-use of CGI in animation because people aren’t expecting a Pixar film to look like it was filmed in camera. When someone watched “The Avengers,” the idea is for this impossible situation to look like it was filmed, in real life. Animated film only need to look nice and pretty, live action needs to look REAL.

  • Mightyflog

    Wow seems like the readers have spoken. To some degree the readers agree with the video creator and not Cartoonbrew. I have get a long time that movies now a days use CGI as a crutch and not an enhancement. I remember Ashanti or Christina Milan was in a muppets movie. She said at first you realize the muppets are not real but then really quickly they begin to feel real as she started to interact with them. While I love all the new movies it still feels like I’m watching something like Roger Rabbit with cartoon characters mixed in with real life. I think practical fx should be used more often. They have a connection because they are real CG should just be an enhancement especially for backgrounds and sets. Matte paintings had some degree of awesomeness because they were still real and had the imperfections and lighting from the real world. I think there is a disconnect. Sometimes less is more. Jurassic Park still holds up today in graphics. JW took a step back in the real world. It looks more like cartoon dinosaurs. JP used imperfections in Cg and practical fx and resonated more. There is a reason it still holds up. Sorry on this one but I don’t think the majority agree with this article.

  • I think we all are just suffering from CGI fatigue, honestly…and I think that is caused by people using CGI in a very linear fashion (using CGI for better graphics). CGI means Computer Graphic Images, which shouldn’t necessarily equate to reaching the highest level graphics you can possibly reach. Cartoons and films like Courage the Cowardly Dog, Jurassic Park, and recent movies like Lego Movie incorporate CGI differently as to effectively enhance what they are trying to convey, not necessarily replace.

  • shmiggle

    When you point out all these examples of “bad” CGI, what the amateur auteur fails to appreciate is pretty much everything. Right down to budgeting. Some of the worst CGI I have seen is on low budget movies. It wasnt the CGI at fault. The fault is with the producers and directors who underestimate the complexity and scope of work and dive in head first only to fail miserably, releasing what they managed to salvage out of a poorly budgeted disaster just so get something out the door to try to at least make some of their money back. They tried to make something on the cheap. Its like trying to manufacture Mercedes on Hyundais budgets. What you end up in the end is a very overpriced Hyundai or a very poorly built Mercedes.

    There are so many realities on set a layman will never understand without being there and dealing with making a movie. So the best you can get are opinions that try to explain a problem they do not understand and have no authority to explain or even criticise. Many movies begin their failure right at the script. I am a vfx supervisor and one of the most important services I provide is simply reading a script and evaluating the feasibility considering their budget goals.

    Something that is not done often enough by actual supervisors with experience and too often by producers who have no in depth technical knowledge. They fall victim to the dunning-kruger effect and vastly under estimated the task at hand and the time/budget needed to accomplish things believably.

    The example of hulk was especially bad in this oped. The one on the left had terrible texturing and lighting that stuck out like a sore thumb. The right was poorly comped. Both were bad for their own reasons and both failed the plausibility test equally.