Computer-generated Imagery, or “CGI” for short, has greatly surged in popularity over the last decade in all genres of film; however, this isn’t without its downsides. And these downsides have caused a constant debate between film critics and fans about whether CGI is an overused hindrance or if it allows film directors to better express their artistic visions.
Fantastic virtual effects that would have never been conceivable or would have costed far too much to produce physically are now all possible in the realm of film. Arguably, film directors have more artistic expression now than they would have had before the advancements of CGI; furthermore, it allows for rich fantasy environments to shine if used correctly. An example of this would be James Cameron’s Avatar; where the rich jungle life of the planet Pandora doesn’t match anything on earth. For an effects team to physically make something that could compare to Pandora would not only cost much more money, but it might also detract from the immersion of the film. It should also be noted that CGI can also allow for a great dramatic spectacle, such as the massive spaceship battles in the Star Wars films. Before this, the film industry would have to rely on stop-motion, puppetry, or illusions fabricated with the camera lens to even create special effects.
However, it should be noted that CGI can be a hindrance, especially when overused, which often leads to an audience feeling that the film lacks authenticity or has sloppy production quality. This can be seen in George Lucas’ overuse of CGI in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which ultimately led for the acting, dialogue and story to be overlooked. Over-reliance on Computer-generated Imagery can lead to lazy film-making and plotting. Another fault of CGI is that it requires actors to act against a green screen rather than against a visible backdrop. This goes against the fact that actors frequently use the environment around them to help themselves get into their character roles.
All things being considered; it is best to acknowledge Computer-generated Imagery is just another tool in which film directors can make use of. Like every other tool, it can be overused and hurt the final product far more than it helps; however, when a film director knows when to use CGI, it can greatly increase the impact of a film on its intended audience.