Monday, July 12, 2010

I love/hate CGI

I'm a fan of Christopher Nolan, the director behind Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Inception. As much as I enjoy the way he crafts stories, I have an equal appreciation for his use of special effects.

Or perhaps I should say his non-use of CGI (computer-generated imagery).

As amazing as CGI can be, as wholly as it can flood our eyes with visuals from an alien landscape, it can't quite rival reality. A for-instance: When Batman's motorcycle (excuse me, Batpod) causes the Joker's truck to flip over in The Dark Knight, the scene feels genuine because the shot is genuine. It's a real 18-wheeler flipping.

Why is this important? Because as an audience member, I access my knowledge of a truck. I've driven them, traveled in them, even had a wreck with one. Watching a gunfight, I can draw upon my experience of having fired a machine gun. The sound, the recoil, the scent. When we see real smoke or fire on the big screen, our senses and memories unite to draw us in closer.

Christopher Nolan's understanding of how to enrich a story with real-world action is just one of the reasons I admire his work. Now if you'll pardon me, I'm going to try hotwiring the Batmobile.

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