Cameron and Jackson on CGI in film

December 23, 2009 in Technology

Slate has posted a great interview with James Cameron and Peter Jackson - arguably the two leading directors when it comes to special effects in film (in fact, Jackson's Weta Workshop executed most of the FX shots for Cameron's Avatar).

Of course, the discussion centers on an enthusiastic embrace of CGI, reflecting a belief that it is nothing more than a new form of makeup or costume and requires as much if not more labor and care to execute properly. Most blatantly, Cameron states:

If I did Titanic today, I'd do it very differently. There wouldn't be a 750-foot-long set. There would be small set pieces integrated into a large CGI set. I wouldn't have to wait seven days to get the perfect sunset for the kiss scene. We'd shoot it in front of a green screen, and we'd choose our sunset.

They admit that some filmmakers may have run ahead of solid plots and characters to play with their toys (here's looking at you, Star Wars prequels), but it's clear they want their audiences to realize that CGI is not a shortcut or gimmick; it's an intense process which gives the filmmaker total control and requires the actors to more fully abstract the essence of their performance, when done properly. From a technical standpoint, only in the last decade has processing power approached a point where CGI can be used believably amidst - or to replace - live action shots.

(Via Kenny Herman)

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