Tuesday, July 8, 2014

CGI Vs Real - Part 1 - Models and Miniatures

A Pictorial Guide by Ken Parker

This is a loaded topic and is one I could research and go on forever about but my main focus is on models and miniatures VS CG.

 I love the old school model making and there are so many examples on TV and movies over the years that support the art and appeal for these physical models.

2001: A Space Odyssey  with effects that still hold up today almost 50 years later
Star Wars - 1977

King Kong -1933 - Mary Evans/RKO RADIO PICTURES/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Space: 1999 - 1975

Thunderbirds - 1965

Blade Runner - 1982

Over the years the sophistication of model making improved and there are certainly times when it was hard to tell when something was a miniature.
From Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (Doppleganger) - 1969 - real rocket launch?

Rivendell from Lord of the Rings - not CG?

Of course with lower budgets and poor models or cinematography, miniatures can come off as not so real and this really can hurt the final product.

Shape of Things to Come (1979)

Doctor Who - Invasion of the Dinosaurs

Plan 9 From Outer Space - 1959

Often people will allow for not so perfect effects. Like CG, it is generally known when something is a miniature due to the fact that it represents something that is not real. We know that a huge futuristic city is a model because the said city is not real. We know something is CG because it doesn't exist in real life.

Hogwarts - Harry Potter

Sometimes the two forms of effects can be confused for one another. CG has gotten so good that it can be difficult to discern the two.

Moon - 2009 - They used lots of model effects

CG, like miniatures has also had its primitive times.

Birdemic - 2010

Thanks to SyFy for providing so many examples of bad CG

It has grown better over the years and there are CG scenes that are spectacular.

Babylon 5 - 1994

Prometheus - 2012

Tron Legacy - 2012 
Gravity - 2013

District 9 - 2009

I love the appeal of miniatures. In some cases they remind me of my childhood and playing with toys. The miniatures can remind us of these toys and models we built as kids and that is nostalgic.

CG can be considered cold and with less personality. It is done on a computer. I would argue that the artistic ability is as needed for CG as miniatures. The same imagination and ability to make something out of nothing is the same – there really is know difference, it is just a different trade. I can't imagine one is much harder than the other.
Avatar - 2009

Cloud Atlas - 2012

CG Enterprise


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