CGI Killed the Video Star?

I’m sure most of you have heard the song ‘Video killed the Radio Star’ by the Buggles (it was released in 1979, so I’m showing my age here!).  It wasn’t exactly a hit, but has been making the music rounds all the time, in one form or another.  It’s a song about how television killed off the radio.  Although not technically true, radio is more popular now than it has ever been (mainly because more people have access to radios than ever before) but the premise was that the new moving picture box, in the corner of the room, ended the era of when people gathered around the box full of old diodes and tubes that was called a radio.

History lesson ends.

Now there is a new dimension to film making: CGI or Computer Generated Imagery.

With the continuous development of faster processors, bigger and better computers, the ability to produce life-like graphics has become a reality (notice the pun?).  Films like Avatar have shown what computer generated imagery can achieve in a spectacular way.  Compared to one of the first CGI films, Final Fantasy, graphics have come a long way.  The story may be a rehash of the Last Mohican but the eye candy was undeniably stunning.  However, this is just the start.  CGI films have been around for quite a while, Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Flushed Away are a few examples.  These are CGI films as we accepted as the norm; cartoon like characters in a family film.

Now that we have seen that film companies can produce life-like characters with stunning clarity, does this mean that we will soon see the end of actors?

Not really.  Although Avatar was a CGI film, it still required actors to act each of the scenes whilst the computers were capturing their movements.  The voices were human as well as the interaction, but they were covered by a layer of computer graphics.  So, we still need the actors and actresses to play the parts in order for the computer to capture the motions, but it does mean that their real faces/bodies are not seen.  Will this be an issue in the future?

I doubt it.  For years, now, actors have been perfectly happy to do voice-overs for films.  Let’s face it, it is certainly easier than learning lines and then acting out scenes in front of a camera.  Ok, maybe they are established actors who’s faces are already famous, but in time this won’t be a consideration.  Voice acting is still as difficult as acting, maybe more so when you think about it.  When acting a scene in front of a camera, the actor can interact with his surroundings making it easier for him/her.  When just doing voices or motion capture, the actors have to visualize their situation.  A much harder procedure, I think.

Either way, we are now entering a new phase of CGI film making.  Producers that have been restricted by the physics and limitations of the real world are now free to explore the limitless possibilities of fantasy worlds where they are no longer restricted by what is physically possible.  This is good news for the film lovers as films should become more fantastic and laden with even more impressive special effects.

But not all film makers are going to go down this new, technological path; not 100% anyway.  There will still be thrillers and dramas in which real people will take the lead for the foreseeable future.  Maybe, someday, when actor’s salaries become even more inflated than their egos, producers may just try and create CGI versions.  Until that day, men will have gorgeous actresses to lust over and women will have their dreamy male actors.

Me, I’ll be happy with more special effects, blowing stuff up and space wars, leaving the sloppy, love stuff to people who like that sort of thing.


One thought on “CGI Killed the Video Star?

  1. My children regard this realistic CGI stuff as quite normal. I am also of an age when, on Tomorrow’s World, they showed a film of a Newton’s Cradle and told us how many rooms of computer were needed to generate it. It lasted a few seconds and I was impressed.

    Avatar and Monster Inc? I am not surprised or impressed now – I demand it!

    Now 3D still impresses me!

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