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CGI and Cinematography


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#1 Ad Dlugoszewski

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 01:32 PM

Hi,
I'm a Digital Film Production student and am currently researching the effect CGI has on cinematography for my dissertation. Was just wondering people's opinions on whether CGI is affecting the art of cinematography, if it is at all?ie what restrictions CGI puts on it etc.
Cheers for any feedback
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 07:02 AM

Czes'c' Ad.

You really need to "hit the library" on this one. Internet fora are *not* good sources for papers, nor is Wikipedia. A phone interview with a cinematographer from this site, should you be able to secure it, would be.

Special effects cinematography has always, by its very nature, been restrictive. When they used painted glass between camera and live action to add buildings that weren't there, they couldn't move the camera, nor could they film anything bright blue in front of a bluescreen. The camera couldn't move for front- or rear-projection. Lighting models on strings had to be done to hide the strings rather than in an artistically-motivated matter.

Digital is no different than those effects, only it can do more. In some ways it is far better than photo-optical effects. In some ways it is far worse. However, the same restrictions above apply to most productions. If you break any of the "no movement" or wrong lighting rules, it can now be fixed, but it will cost a freaking fortune to do so. See the thread in the "General Discussion" forum of these fora that talks about things that we shouldn't see on screen that we do, and read about the drunken extra in Lord of the Rings. You wouldn't have had to pay $6 million to digitally remove said exta were it a static shot.

Some argue that digital is overused now. Digital color correction of an entire movie, once the luxury of a select few for a specific needed purpose has now become almost ubiquitous. This wouldn't be a big deal, were it not for the fact that 2K does not caputre all of the image information off of film, and has led in most cases to noticeably reduced image quality.

What you are seeing in theatres used to always be better than what you saw on HDTV. Now it is almost always WORSE. Unfortunatly, most CGI effects are done via 2K DI still, so the same problems inherent with having to do multiple dupes of a film with pre-CGI effects are still there, just not as noticeable. THere is softening of the image in CG elements, and instead of upping the scanner res., people have gotten lazy and just scanned the whole movie to hide the difference instead of going to 3.2- or 4K scans. Further, since 2K DIs are used to make new "master negatives" or new "interpositives" instead of internegatives or final prints like you should be, you don't even get 2K on the final film print in the theatres. Now this is being used as an excuse to move to 2K digital projection. It isn't the fault of film that digital projection looks better than a film print of a DI film, it is the fault of a 2K DI 3 generations removed.

Good luck with your paper, err dissertation. Hope this helps.

Edited by Karl Borowski, 04 October 2008 - 07:06 AM.

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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 04:39 AM

Hi,
I'm a Digital Film Production student and am currently researching the effect CGI has on cinematography for my dissertation. Was just wondering people's opinions on whether CGI is affecting the art of cinematography, if it is at all?ie what restrictions CGI puts on it etc.
Cheers for any feedback


Actually GCI is nothing more or less than another tool in your cinema toolbox albeit a rather spectacular tool, and far from being restrictive it opens unlimited possibilities for the film maker. With CGI anything the human imagination can conceive can be put on film. You can fix mistakes, create vistas and skys that were never there, let people do things that are impossible. CGI can augment the cinematographer's art but it will never replace it because the cinematographer's art it to build, using the tolls, all the tools that are available to him, the perfect look of the frame. Even if a film is 100% CGI, someone places the virtual lights and virtual cameras. Someone selects the virtual lenses, creates the virtual camera motion to build the perfect look of the virtual frame. Look at Final Fantasy or Toy Story or Shrek or The Incredibles or One of my favorite Cars and look at it as if it were any other film, look at the way the lighting and framing help to create the mood and tell the story. It's all there just like any other film. Take a look at Forces of Nature where virtually ALL the weather elements were CGI, Look at The Matrix, the cinematographer's art is there too. Cinematography which will have CGI added later accounts for that fact in it's design and careful records are kept so the virtual lighting and virtual cameras will match seamlessly with the live action so the digital artist and the cinematographer must work hand in hand with one another. The way CGI affects the cinematographer's art is it expands it. B)
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#4 Joe Giambrone

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 05:27 PM

You may or may not know this already, but look into how they filmed Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow and Sin City.

Some behind the scenes are online. See the DVD extras too.
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 01:34 PM

Do you have a thesis yet?
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