A recent article on cracked.com titled: 6 Reasons Modern Movie CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy has been making the rounds on social media recently. I’ve seen people sharing it with myself and other visual effects artists and including comments along the lines of “told you so” and “sort it out!”.
As a visual effects artist, I can’t help but feel like they’re calling us the bad guys, but is that really true?
In a response to the latest VFX Blockbuster behemoth Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the article claims that a significant and growing percentage of the public is weary of the big visual effects driven films today. The article goes on to list reasons like the tendency for blockbusters to ignore the laws of physics in big action sequences (unbelievable), ubiquitous and over the top orange and teal grading palette (unwatchable) and a general criticism for the overuse of CG for absolutely everything, everywhere (unavoidable).
The author occasionally channels Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in Jurassic Park when he said: “(they) were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
To be fair, I agree with a lot of the sentiment of the article. Even as a film visual effects artist for whom it is in my best interest to see more visual effects in movies, as a film lover I’m almost always in the “less is more” camp when it comes to the tricks of my trade.
The bottom line: We shouldn’t blame the visual effects artists for the excesses of the studios. The studios who make these crazy visual effects bloated blockbusters are first and foremost in it to make money (art comes a little further down the list for them) and they have observed that more often than not, lots of visual effects = lots of money at the box office. It makes sense that they’re going to shoehorn in more and more visual effects chasing that lovely filthy lucre.
As long as the visual effects heavy blockbusters keep bringing in the lions share of the unprecedented billions at the box office during this “golden age” of studio profits, they are not just going to stay the course, they are going to turn it up to Eleven.