Hey everyone! I was checking out some of my favorite YouTube channels and ran into this video from Freddie Wong and the rest of the team at Rocket Jump called “Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)”. Check it out:
I hear this complaint a lot, not just for video in the form of cinema and television… but also for games and websites and small youtube channels. A lot of people are quick to blame the quality of work on the visual fidelity of the computer graphics alone.
As Rocket Jump points out in the video above, that isn’t usually what makes a movie bad. Movies with awful digital effects can be forgiven if the film is good in other departments. The original Star Wars movies are not nearly as well-done or realistic as many modern films but the cinematography still holds up for many viewers. They also point out there are many “live action” films that use CG so well you don’t even notice what is and is not a digital effect aside from what you may seen in behind the scenes. That’s true for movies with an especially large budget who can afford high quality effects, or for those teams who are extremely great at what they do.
What can be done?
Well of course “Knowing is half the battle”. That is to say it’s important that these companies who do special effects and editing have a clear direction, vision, and skillset. The UAT Digital Video program does this by setting up shot lists and often meets with the whole team to go over what everyone’s task will be. You can check out their projects on the Digital Video YouTube channel. Similarly, Game Designers will write GDDs (Game Design Documents) which go over every feature in the game including gameplay, art style for Game Artists, and needed mechanics to be implemented by Game Programmers. Game Production and Management, our Master’s program, goes even further with this to look at the backbone of what is needed to produce games.
So what does it really come down to? Planning. Take Batman Arkham Knight for example, a game which absolutely flopped when released for PC to the point where it needed taken out of stores. The art isn’t the issue, in fact the game is beautiful, but poor planning led to a poor product. Similarly, Rocket Jump points out that as long as the characters are well portrayed and the story draws you in, it’s less important how much of the film was CG and more important how that CG was used to further enhance something that was already well planned and well put-together.