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Symbeline's avatar

What do you think of ''man made'' special effects in movies?

Asked by Symbeline (30488 points ) June 30th, 2012

That is, special effects that have minimal or no computer generated work put into them. For years that was the case with every movie, but computer generated special effects have invaded at a mad speed recently.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with special effects created this way at all, in fact it’s pretty cool.
But recently, I’ve been having this phase where I’m obsessed about old Italian zombie movies from the seventies and early eighties. These are notable for their over the top gore, and I’ve also got Tom Savini (Thomas Vincent Savini ) in mind.
I don’t know much about how man made special effects are created, but often times, even if by today’s standards it seems laughable, I think it adds a bit of realism to the movie, and better matches the atmosphere a movie is going for. sometimes It keeps everything leveled and can act in favor of a movie’s feel, whereas computer generated effects often look too pretty and then it seems that the atmosphere is laid out of whack.
I’m approaching this mostly with horror movies in mind, but man made special effects, obviously, find themselves everywhere. Costumes, makeup, light and camera play, stop motion, mechanical robots like Jaws/Bruce. I’m thinking older science fiction must have a lot of interesting special effects, for example. With my fray in old, low budget zombie movies, I seem to have sparked a bit of an interest in this. I’m mostly all about the gore, but I’d love to explore older special effects further.
What does the community think about man made special effects in movies? man made, for lack of better wording; if there’s an actual term, I’d like to know Like it, why or why not, and do you have any favorite movies with cool effects, or special effects specialists? Opinions, facts, learning, whining, praising, it’s all good.
Discussion about computer effects is also very welcome, so if you have something to say about those, by all means.

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30 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

This question is tough. I would prefer minimal CGI in any movie I watch, because I really think it is jarring,

On the other hand, I think it has been a boon in some cases, as I know the Lord of the Rings would not have been made until CGI was easy and cheap.

I guess, to focus on your question, I prefer newer stories to tell themselves within a non-cgi framework, as I think it hides lazy writing,

I absolutely love the ability of CGI to bring older stories to the movies in a believable context.

Symbeline's avatar

CGI, computer genrated imagery. I had to look that up lol

Good answer, and now that I think about it, I certainly agree, not sure how visually pleasing LotR would have been without the computer work in it.

I guess, to focus on your question, I prefer newer stories to tell themselves within a non-cgi framework, as I think it hides lazy writing,

Yeah, a remake or sequel to something needs substance, and that can’t all be drawn from imagery.

WestRiverrat's avatar

GCI upside as I see it is there is less environmental impact from CGI special effects.

The downside is, they no longer need as many special effects artists (or extras for the crowd scenes) to make movies. One guy/gal on a computer can do a job that once took several to hundreds of people.

prasad's avatar

I watched some movies like Hugo and in that some man made effects are shown. And how some effects were created is also there. Also, you can find many special effects that are achieved by Chinese stars like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan that are quite simple when you see them. But such effects, though less costly at times, have some limitations.

Computer generated special effects or visual effects (VFX) are more common now, but these are costlier as it involves specialists and their equipment.

Kardamom's avatar

Too much CGI makes a movie too unreal looking for my taste, but just the right amount, mixed with real models and real sets is terrific. It seems hard to believe that the original Star Wars movie (episode IV, used mostly models) but to me, that movie stands out as the best and most believable.

I could not even stomach Avatar, because it was CGI madness. Don’t like any of the “modern” super-hero movies either for the same reason.

You my dear @Symbeline will love (if you haven’t yet seen it) Dark Shadows, because Tim Burton explained in an interview that he purposely tried to use real sets and props as much as he could because it makes it easier and more natural for the actors to work with real stuff, rather than a green screen (of course some scenes they had to use green screens, otherwise you couldn’t achieve scenes that don’t exist in nature) but they actually built a smaller scale model of the house, Collinwood, and a small fishing village, Collinsport, on a studio back lot.

Course I love me some Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer claymation too, and even though The Nightmare Before Xmas is mostly CGI, Mr. Burton did an excellent job of making it look like claymation (only with smoother moves).

I love the original Winnie the Pooh movies from the 60’s and early 70’s which were drawn and painted, but I hate the current cartoon TV show of Winnie the Pooh, where they all look like they’re 3-dimensional balloon characters, ala CGI, and they’ve replaced the British Christopher Robin with some ridiculous modern, sneaker-wearing, American girl! That, to me, is sacrilege!

This is the Real Pooh Bear

This is the Bad CGI Poo

ucme's avatar

The “shark” in Jaws was complete crap, even Spielberg called it the floating turd.
Shows how good a movie it was that the star of the show didn’t spoil the film.
The piece of shit fish in Jaws 3D was supposed to be more high-tech & modern, but as any right minded person will testify in actual fact it was tragically funny.

digitalimpression's avatar

I have no issues with the history of “man-made” effects in movies in the past. But I certainly wouldn’t want to step backwards and use man-made effects in every movie. I love CGI.. but especially when you can’t tell if it is CGI or not.

filmfann's avatar

There is a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where a truck turns over, and explodes. Looks great the first time you see it. The second time you notice a large telephone pole sticking out of the bottom of the overturned truck.
I love this movie, but that scene kind of blows it for me.

Mariah's avatar

I think it’s cool when directors opt to physically create their situations rather than add them in with CGI. Shows dedication, because it’s often not easy! One great example is the scene in Dark Knight when a tractor trailer flips the long way in the streets. They really flipped a truck to do that, in the streets of Chicago. Pretty impressive.

ucme's avatar

@filmfann Same as when you see Ford’s stuntman sliding about on a tea-tray in the scene where Indiana is thrown from the grill of the nazi’s truck. Makes his way to the back of the vehicle, but with “assistance”.
Very rough around the edges, but still a classic movie.

Symbeline's avatar

@Kardamom Yeah, Tim Burton is especially good for that, he seems to insist on using older methods quite often. I’m really looking forward to that movie. I also wonder if he’s ever going to make another stop motion movie like Corpse Bride.

@ucme Lol a floating turd. I love Bruce. There’s also a Bruce 2, although I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t read it somewhere. But yeah, I forget which Jaws movie it was, I think the third one where everyone is in this underwater observatory and the shark comes towards it, it looked so damn ridiculous lol.

@digitalimpression Yeah, I can’t remember the name of the movie, but it’s one where Arnold Schwarzenegger had to shed one tear. But he wasn’t able to cry on command (what a wuss lol) so they had to make a digitized tear. It’s an old movie though, I just forget what.

@Mariah Yeah, stuff like that is impressive. That’s why I like watching making ofs. Your example reminds me of Braveheart, and how so many of the fights scenes were one chancers…(when it came to try and save money anyways) I guess those battle scenes aren’t really special effects though.

ucme's avatar

@Symbeline Yep, that was the shite 3D film to which I refer.
Fucking hilarious scene where “our hero” is inside the mouth of the “shark” & still has the presence of mind to detonate an underwater grenade….he must have had balls of steel that fella.

TexasDude's avatar

I just recently fell in love with a movie called The Fall which uses absolute minimal CGI (as in almost none) and the rest of the techniques are old school. It’s phenomenal.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

It’s definitely a dying art. CGI has its place, but it depends on the context of the film/television episode. For an example, there was a scene in a Game of Thrones episode where a woman gives birth to a shadow. I don’t know how anyone else could have done it without CGI. CGI or not, what matters to me is the ability to tell a story.

Symbeline's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Whoa, this movie looks like it kicks ass. No CGI at all? Looks impressive just from that trailer, anyway.

@Michael_Huntington Yeah, good point. Man made stuff does have its limits. Also, giving birth to shadows? what the hell kinda TV show is this lol

ucme's avatar

I just thought of a great example, the morlocks in the original Time Machine movie frightened the shit out of me when I first clapped eyes on the dirty buggers, still do if truth be told.
Those in the remake were basically underdressed scarecrows, not scary at all.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@Symbeline It’s a cool tv show on HBO called Game of Thrones. It’s like fantasy, but it’s awesome because of all the sex and violence. Check out the first season.

fundevogel's avatar

I’m a fan.

As a kid I loved the movies with puppet or stop-motion based special effects and I own a few movies just for their cool old FX (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad for one). I like CG FX fine, but the more stylized obviously crafted FX holds a special place in my heart. I’m especially into FX derived from traditional animation techniques like the end sequence in Highlander or the stretchy Ash in Army of Darkness. They’re just so cool! I’d be so pissed if someone went back and George Lucased it up.

Puppets and animatronics too. I love Jim Henson.

Psst, @Berserker Burton’s got a stop-motion feature coming later this year.

Symbeline's avatar

I heard a while back that Evil Dead was to be remade. Project was dropped…man, and good thing, too. Those three Dead movies, they’re so notable for their special effects, that if they DO get remade, it’s going to really disappoint me if everything is CGI.

And Highlander is the shit. As much for its lightening, seven foot tall bad guys and hilarious dialogue.

ProTip; Don’t watch Endgame.

fundevogel's avatar

@Symbeline They are remaking Evil Dead but I’m at peace with it. I figure since Evil Dead 2 was a remake of Evil Dead it’s not really a series to get your panties in a twist about when it comes to remakes. And in general I’ve seen enough remakes I prefer to originals (Amityville Horror and Fright Night come to mind) that I’m open to em. Though I’m guessing the new Evil Dead will be pretty different from the previous ones. It think it’s supposed to be DARK and SERIOUS and, if you can believe it, SCARY.

Oh Evil Dead One, Two and the Medieval Dead. I love you, but I laugh at your wall of blood.

I love Highlander! It’s just so right! And the Queen soundtrack? Bliss. More 12th century Scots and Freddy Mercury please.

Symbeline's avatar

Oh I will get my panties in a twist for sure. I always accept remakes as such, and usually appreciate them. But somewhere inside, I’m biased, and I know I’ll have something bad to say about it lol. Like Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes. (I’m aware he never wanted to do the second one, he was stuck through contract…disturbingly enough, just like John Carpenter was with the original Halloween II…) I love them, even the so hated second one, but they still really aren’t all that Halloween.

Also I just posted a link to a site for news I go to for horror movies, and I didn’t even know this Evil Dead remake was resurrected? I suck lol. Weird premise though…but I’m guessing it probably won’t end up being all that different, at least in concept, besides it being less humorous and slapstick.

I love Highlander too. I just think it’s pretty cheesy lol. But that fight scene on top of the crumbling staircase…epic, mate. You ever watch the series, with Adrian Paul? hawt

fundevogel's avatar

I think I do a pretty good job of just not seeing bad remakes so I don’t really have much bile. Though I do for unknown reasons keep seeing Underworld sequels (its like the definition of diminishing returns!) so I can relate to the inevitability of disappointment.

I tend to check check up on filmmakers I like on imdb from time to time so that’s why I knew about it. Also Guillermo del Toro was supposed to be remaking Witches. I want it to happen soooooo bad.

Symbeline's avatar

Yeah, Underworld…you know, I didn’t have much of a problem with the third movie. I thought it was kinda cool seeing as it’s set in a medieval type setting…but I came close to not wanting to see it, since I hated number two so much.

Half bat half whatever the fuck else, and all he does is fight a pickup truck. Wtv bro!

fundevogel's avatar

If you think that’s bad see the fourth one. Or better yet, don’t.

Symbeline's avatar

Yeah I know it’s out…been pondering if I want to see it or not…what’s it like?

fundevogel's avatar

Pretty crap. The movie pretty much revolves around the fact that Scott Speedman isn’t there. It’s rarely a good idea to make a movie about what isn’t in the movie. You get the feeling it’s supposed to be leading up to a movie where he is there and this was just keeping the chair warm so to speak. I really doubt he’ll be reprising the role though.

Kardamom's avatar

Oh, I just forgot about one of the most famous “man made” but super-realistic and scary looking things from a movie. The Cyclone in The Wizard of Oz.

Here is How They Did It

That was MUCH scarier than anything from the more modern Storm Chasers movie (although I did like that movie).

Bellatrix's avatar

I have never thought a lot about CGI but when I think about say the 3D obsession filmmakers seem to have at the moment, I would say if the motivation for using CGI is to show how clever they are with CGI, it tends to leave me a bit cold. If the aim is to use CGI to enhance the film and incorporate scenes they couldn’t effectively include without the technology, great.

So, when CGI actually works against the story and diminishes the value or realism of the film, I would rather they didn’t bother. When it enhances the film, great.

Nullo's avatar

Not everything has to be CG. Something that more people ought to consider, if you ask me.

gottamakeart's avatar

CGI is too prevalent in movies, its like watching a video game almost. I like the older ways &I really love to see how they do it too. I even have a friend in the business who works in many different aspects of the business of FX and Makeup if anyone would care to have a look:

http://www.youtube.com/user/markymakeupdotcom

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