We’re very much in the era of computer-generated effects and visual enhancements in both movie and TV – it comes as technology has allowed all sorts of changes with entertainment moving to our pocket whether through favorites in change like this site offering punters a bit of fun, or bringing the movies we love with newer options in accessibility, but there has long been a discussion of what is better – practical or computer generated? From movies that have become timeless like the original Lord of the Rings trilogy because of its incredible practical effects, to brand new releases like Shang-Chi which use practical effects where many may not expect like that bus scene – but why do practical effects make a better movie?
They simply age better – With the rate at which technology changes, it’s no surprise that CGI from movies a decade ago look a bit dated, and those from before perhaps even worse. Even things today that look like they couldn’t get any better may seem strange to watch again in a few years. That isn’t to say there aren’t some questionable uses of practical effects, but as a rule of thumb they tend to look much better and age more gracefully than CGI counterparts – something that some directors may need to consider a bit more in the future with fans calling for practical effects to make a much larger return where they may not already be seen.
A better sense of placement – Some movie releases just scream the need for practical effects, and a look at movies like Mad Max Fury Road show this morning than anything – the efforts taken to create intricate costumes, custom vehicles, and some great filming sequences make the world feel very alive and gives a better sense of placement for these effects too in a way that’s difficult for CGI to replicate. Granted there are some things that practical effects can’t do, but in most situations, it can certainly help a world feel more alive, and give a better sense of belonging too.
An opportunity for some very unique shots – Whether it’s Tom Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa with sticky gloves in Mission Impossible, or the plane hijack from The Dark Knight Rises, practical effects can lead to some very unique shots that may only come from this approach and can lead to something very visceral not easily replicated with CGI too – It can be something very easy to see, and much like the first point when the movies start to age, this approach certainly pays off with creating some extremely unique shots and some very memorable movie moments.
There are many directors that certainly prefer the application of practical effects over CGI, and many occasions where it simply makes more sense to do so for budget purposes or for just getting the right shot – try to keep an eye out for where these differing options may be used, and it can greatly change a movie experience.