CG Misconceptions

As I’ve become more and more familiar with computer graphics, I’ve noticed more and more how tv shows and movies are somehow perpetuating these awful misconceptions about CG. I was just taking a look at some people’s opinions of the remake of King Kong (which I thought did their effects amazingly) and many people were saying how they were dissapointed that the creators decided to use CG, as it was “easier” than traditional methods.) On TV, especially on some crime dramas, you can see characters doing ridiculous CG things with a keystroke. They’ll do things like type in random keys, and a detailed mesh of a certain person will appear, ready to do whatever the person types in. I always thought people were smart enough to know that this kind of thing is fundamentally impossible, but apparently it’s made an impression anyway.
People unfamiliar with how CG works have come to think that because it’s “done” by computers, it’s “easier”. These misconceptions are, to put it bluntly, insulting to the artists that put time and expertise into their work. No one assumes it’s perfectly simple to paint a masterpiece painting, or compose an orchestral masterpiece, so why is it that people are under the impression that it’s easy to do CG?

Because they don’t see what’s happening. When people use a computer program, they don’t realize what’s going on behind the scene. I can still remember myself being totally flabbergasted when I figured how big computer programs could be, and how much code had to be written to do something as easy as pressing a button (well, if you’re writing your own toolkit, that is).

It’s the same for computer graphics. People see other people sit in front of a computer, press some buttons and suddenly there’s a huge object with detailed textures. Of course, we know they’re not automatically generated, but we’re never showing it to the normal people (in things like documentaries), and well, computers are supposed to magically “do stuff”. Right?

There’s two ways to fix this real world bug:

  1. Ask them if Microsoft Word writes their documents for them. Let them realize that “stuff” does not just magically get created.

  2. Put them in front of a pc and let them use Blender for a while. That should be enough to actually fix the bug.

The same reason photography is ‘easier’ than other art forms?

We can just recycle some threads from 100+ years ago when artists first started using cameras instead of picking up a paint brush to see all the arguments…

Don’t they? A lot of people seem to have false impressions that all art is “easy.” Many people seem to think that the only reason they haven’t written a great novel is that they just haven’t had the time, and that knowing how to use a keyboard is the only skill required. Since the industrial revolution we’ve become accustomed to things being produced quickly and easily without much human intervention, and many people seem to think that works of art are created very much the same way. (In some cases they are, but that’s a different topic.)

As far as CGI goes, it’s depicted the way it is because, as Calvin’s dad says, “the truth is more complicated.”

Yeah. Most people are too lazy to accept that they don’t understand something, and there’s no questioning that the industrial revolution softened us. With the advent of computers though, really pushed people over the edge though, in my opinion. Because computers did (and to an extent, still do) seem like magic. I myself have never been able to fathom even the simplest principles of computer technology.

When i completed my ferrari model (that tool me a month to make) I was over the moon. Especially after it was rendered by m@dcow (in sig)
I thought when my freinds and family see it, they’ll be so impressed and i’ll be the coolest guy around.
But when that happened i got nothing but a “so what?”.

Unless you do it yourself you can’t respect the guys who do it. And i think its not just with CG
Its with every field.
You won’t have any respect for a construction worker (for example) unless you do what he does

I see the same thing all the time, and with programming as well.

It always makes me mad to see a TV show like CSI:

  1. They are looking at some crappy gas-station security camera footage. Then someone says, “hey, can you zoom in on that bottle cap?” And they get this hi-res picture of an eye as a reflection and they’re like “oh, he is wearing contact lenses!”
  2. “We need to get that cell phone’s IP!” Then you see the matrix screensaver with faces flashing up in another window. And of course there has to be electronic chirping in the background…

The media is just like the public when it comes to “uncommon” practices, they misrepresent it. But this creates a domino effect in that the public watches this media (some of this public being members of another media), and the misconception is conserved.

I cannot tell you how many people think programming is typing tree /F into a DOS prompt and seeing random numbers fly by…

I don’t think that you guys quite understand what it is exactly that people dislike about CGI, Upon wandering through the IMDB threads I noticed that the majority of “Haters” have the conception that CGI doesn’t feel as alive… or mystical as puppets/stop motion… I would have to agree to some extent, CGI just isn’t up to the level that we give it credit for.

Through my eyes the addition of CGI to the first three Star Wars films completely butchered the series, as it did with ET… The Yoda puppet still sticks with me while the new and improved CGI version doesn’t… puppeteers are a dieing race.

I know that I really have no validity arguing against CGI on a CGI forum although I will say this… When watching a film the two most important elements for me are:

  1. Is the film technically impressive? (Common today)

  2. Does the film have a lasting, emotional affect on me? … (lacking it modern film)

Just like great art, it is the Unknown… or in this case oddities (utilized errors) that truly add a sense of magic to film…
(Or I would think so)



I think that CG is like “laws and sausages.” You really don’t want people to know too much about how they’re made. :slight_smile:

People will assume that anything done with a computer is easy to make. Take for example electronic music. People don’t give it any credit because its computer generated. Every one has this impression that there is a little or no artist input just because its not done live. If they were to know a little bit about it they would realize that a computer is just a tool that has opened a door for the artists to every imaginable sound and every imaginable way to control that sound. The same can be said with CG. Anything imaginable can be created and brought to life.

Yes, digital tools are our future.


Maybe one day, robotics and AI will make up for what CGI cannot achieve (to date) in cinemas. Still in some way it’s still Computer Animated…:o For me CG is integral to today’s life. Movies need it, liked they needed stop animation etc in the past. Yes stop animation / clay animation has a certain charm and I’m sure with more money and development it could reach a greater level of realism, BUT that level will most certainly always be lower than what CG can and will eventually achieve.

I will agree with you up to a point. VFX HAVE the CAPABILITY to be amazing (Anyone seen Benjamin Button?) but it’s just that most studios don’t have the time or money to be pumping into a project to bring it up to that level. Because lets not forgot, with anythig in VFX your qualty/amazingness level is nearly always completely dependent on how much time and money you have (I say nearly cause no matter what if you have crap artists, it’s gonna suck no matter how much money you throw at them). Although you need to make a distinction between whether you are discussing emotional impact or believeabilty. I still watch Toy Story and it’s emotionally impacting, although not visual realistic. It all depends on who you get on the other side of the mouse and how much time/money they can have to make it.

And I will completely agree with you on the point that story needs to come first. It seems much to common nowadays to create a movie based entirely around what looks good, with a story thrown in afterwards. I personally love JJ Abrahms for taking this mindset into Star Trek (Story first, VFX help the story). And it was an amazing movie! I think alot of the modern film industry has become to dependent on VFX to save thier movie from a bad story, (WHich the really sad part is, most of the time audiences buy into it, and no one questions them on it. It’s Just become the standard now.) This is why I love directors like JJ, and especially Guerillmo Del Toro. Theres a man who can tell a story. But thats a rant for another time. lol.

Just my 2 cents…well probably a cou[ple more than that but w/e.

Preach It Brother Padfoot!

I used to think CG was easy, but when I started…

but it is easy…
just put some vertices, move them around, add some materials and lights and everything else is done for you… :rolleyes:

Exactly. Movies practically make themselves.

I’m working on a voice activated program right this very moment. This program will know every function of Blender and every possible result of every action in Blender. Then,all I have to do is tell the program to create me a Ferrari, or hot girl, or cartoon character, or whatever and then tell it what I want the thing to do and then just sit back and watch the computer do it.

I’ll have at least 10 computers in my room to handle all my ideas and they will all be Blending stuff as fast as I can think of it. I might need 20 computers. Because this new program will make CG so easy that anybody can do it. All you have to do is have ideas and tell the voice activated program what you want.


Anyway ppl, here’s the truth: this world we are living in is generated by the biggest CG program of 'em all. Reality ™. And almost everything works without any input from the user… whoever that might be - and before we get into that discussion let’s just assume it’s unknown and unknowable. So… yes CG can create itself!!!

And now if you’ll excuse me the doctor says I can get my arms untied it’s time for my meds.

the thing is, that’s precisely the hard part :). WHERE to put the verts, WHERE to put the lights, HOW to make the textures…see. You know that story where some guy’s pump breaks and he calls a lot of people and no one is able to fix it then he calls this old mechanic. The old mechanic says if he fixes it the man will have to pay the full bill. The man agrees and and the mechanic just hits the pump somewhere and it starts working.
Bill: $1000
$2 dollars for hitting it
$998 for knowing where to hit it.

but how do u type wif ur arms tied zomg hax