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How to Destroy Movies? Use CGI and Shake the Camera.

Web posted on February 24, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

With the Academy Awards coming up this weekend, it gives me an excuse to have tilt at some of the issues that have ruined the movie experience for me.

The gratuitous use of computer generated effects or CGI is getting out of hand. It is getting more and more difficult to find a movie out there without the over use of digital effects. All the movie trailers showing digital effects look the same. I find it easier to suspend my disbelief watching a guy in a rubber suit stomping on a model of Tokyo, than a bunch of ones and zeros converted to images. Before we went to CGI, it was fun trying to figure out how they did those wonderful effects. Now there is no mystery, just a bunch of ones and zeros. The problem is that we still don't have the computing power to create realistic effects. No matter how hard they try, it just does not look real. They all look like video games. Don't get me wrong, there is room for CGI in movies. It should be used erase jet contrails in biblical epics and westerns, adding digital wires to real airplanes to make them look fake, maybe even adding fake breath to people when a scene is supposed to be in cold weather. The overuse of CGI can best be compared to a mediocre rock band cranking up the volume and thinking they're good. The best special effects are those that don't look like special effects. By the way, if it does not take place in Japan, with Japanese actors poorly dubbed into English, and a guy in a rubber suit, it is not a Godzilla movie.

A lot of time and money was spent to create the Steadicam. This wonderful invention made it possible to have a nice stable image for that motion shot. It makes a chase scene worth watching. So what do a lot of directors do? They give us the "documentary style" of cinematography, or as I prefer to call them cookie woofers, because if I were to watch them for any length of time, I would toss my cookies. They are either too cheap to use a Steadicam, or they want us to get motion sickness. Either way, I am gone. There is absolutely no need for fake camera shake. Even most home videos have less camera shake and in some cases better production values. People making home videos tend to go to great lengths to avoid camera shake.

It really bothers me when some directors decide they want the camera in motion all the time and over use the Steadicam. One of the worst effects is the camera going around the actors in a circle. This totally distracts from the movie and what is being said. Again, I refuse to watch crap like that. The same is true for television. Unfortunately the video game/music video generation expects this garbage. For the rest of us, it has destroyed the pleasure of watching movies on the big screen. I used to go to movies to see the special effects, now I avoid movies with special effects.

Another thing that I find annoying and distracting is when they decide to use coloured filters for all or part of the frame. Unless it is supposed to represent an alien world, it should not be used.

There have been many movies that I would liked to have enjoyed, but the CGI and other effects ruined the movies. There were two trilogies from a certain New Zealand director I could barely get through watching them on regular commercial television. I shudder to think what he might do if he ever gets around to remaking the classic war movie "Dambusters." He owns the rights and has built three Lancaster replicas for ground shots. There was another director who gave us a distant world with giant blue characters. In spite of his titanic effort, I was gone before the first commercial. They might have been looking for unobtainium, all I saw was unwatchable. Yet it was the highest grossing movie until "The Marketing Awakens" came along. Then there is the guy who destroyed the legacy of Gene Rodenberry and created a mighty disturbance in the Force. The artistic licence of these directors should be revoked immediately.

The only way I will ever get some of these movies for my collection is if they release them on Beta.

I think the last time I watched the Oscars was when Johnny Carson was the host. I avoid all the award shows, there are just too many of them. It almost seems that there is the Award Show of the Week these days on television. There are far better ways of wasting one's time.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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