It is a hermetically sealed fantasy, full of digitally created memories, counterfeit physics and controlled accidents. A place where reality fails because it's too perfect, and where spectacular CGI setpieces are replaced with more introverted and complex fantasies - fantasies of the digital-artist-as-god, lost in uncanny valley.
Farbeit from me to argue with the artist, but let's forget the Uncanny Valley. There's more to this than that. It's not about what the machine can't quite show. It's not even about what the machine sees; it's about what the machine makes you see.
Primitive digital imagery has had something of a resurgence across the past decade or so, to the point where pastiches of 8-bit pixel graphics have found their way into mainstream productions such as Wreck-It Ralph. Perhaps it is time that the animators and digital artists of today rediscovered the lesser-known cousin of this aesthetic: the strange world of pseudo-CGI.
The Association for Computing Machinery's annual SIGGRAPH conference is where you will find many of the most incredible, edgiest developments in computer graphics research. Above is the video trailer for this year's "Technical Papers" program. SIGGRAPH 2013 takes place July 21-25 in Anaheim, California.
Michael sez, "The Hunting of the Snark is a student short film narrated by Sir Christopher Lee and based on the Lewis Carroll poem of the same name. The film features a bizarre crew on a dangerous adventure to find a mysterious creature called a Snark. The movie was shot using partial sets against greenscreen and features over 150 vfx shots including cg creatures and oceans! The vfx are all being done by a small team at a DIY vfx studio that I built from the ground up! Pledge $5 to the film's Kickstarter campaign and get a DRM-free digital download of the film and a making of documentary!"
The Hunting of the Snark - Narrated by Sir Christopher Lee (Thanks, Michael!)
The visual effects for the film are already well underway, but in order to get them finished we need your help to bring on a small team of professional visual effects artists. These artists will help to simulate vast computer generated oceans and make our creatures look as real as possible. In addition to helping with the visual effects, funding you provide will also be used to complete the sound and color correction for the movie.
"Avatar" nailed "alien planet". "Harry Potter" nailed "magic". "Titanic" nailed "big disaster". "Lord of the Rings" nailed "fantasy epic war". "Batman" nailed "comic book hero". The backlog has been worked down. Audiences can no longer be impressed by doing any of those things.I'm very suspicious of the argument that all the stuff we can imagine has been done (for one thing, there's a world of sui generis stories to be told about subjects that can only be approached with CGI -- also, there's probably not one canonical way of visually representing subjects like "magic"), but I really hear you about the cost structure of Hollywood driving an inherent conservatism in subjects and approaches.
It wasn't cheap. Movies once boasted "a cast of thousands". Now, major films do have a cast of thousands - of artists and animators. "Captain America"'s credits have about 850 people on the effects side alone. Anything can be put on screen, but it costs about $100 million.
That's the problem. The technology didn't make movies cheaper to make. Even if the whole thing is done in front of a green screen, it doesn't save much money. ("Sky Captain" was supposed to cost $20 million, but ended up costing $80 million.) We're not seeing good $20 million movies with high production values. Those economics lock Hollywood into what are considered sure wins.