This is topic 80's Animatronics/Puppets V Modern CGI in forum « 80's Movies at iRewind Talk.

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Posted by thebazman (Member # 1741) on :
I recently saw a few movies which brought this topic to mind.

Whilst watching the awful "Garfield" Movie (in which they slaughter another of my childhood favs, lol) and couldnt help but be disgusted at the computer generated attempt of a ginger cat.

Fact is almost all movies now that contain some unusal creature or animal, superhero etc relies heavily on CGI, and in the rare few that pull it off amazingly well (Spiderman 2 etc) it looks amazing but... so many fail terribly.

But back in the 80's effects were more "real", computer graphics were still primitive and so things were done with actual materials, explosions were real, actual buildings were blown up,

I started thinking how fantastic "Labrynth" was, and the Jim Henson animatronics totally made the movie. But i put it down as another casualty of great film making that is no longer used, but then.... i went to see "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" and i was over the moon.

It was the perfect blend of CGI (eg not over used and in your face) and Real action. the Jim Henson animatronics were an absolute hightlight, it shows that they look as good or possibly even better today as in the 80's SO WHY are they not more commonly used, probably money i guess.

what do you all think?

Posted by Obscurus Lupa (Member # 2700) on :
I think fewer movies work extremely well with CGI than movies that work well with animatronics. I think animatronics and camera tricks work excellently. One of my favorite films, Evil Dead 2, was awesome and relied on prosthetics, camera tricks, and puppetry.

Other films were saved by CGI, which includes Spider-man and Jurassic Park. As for films that totally bombed with CGI, expect anything that is a live-action cartoon to be horrible (Barring X-Men [another film where CGI worked just fine], which had human/humanoid characters and could use real actors.).

It's sad that animatronics aren't being used as much as they used to, but it hasn't disappeared--One of the more recent werewolf films, Cursed, used CGI for a few full shots of the wolf, but usually used a guy in a suit with a radio-controlled head for expressions.

Great topic, Baz!
Posted by raygunxyz (Member # 1045) on :
I love this topic and I have agrued with many people when I was in college about it (I was in many graphic art classes, but hated CGI in movies). I feel the worst is when they use CGI for gore like in BLADE, where is just looks bad. Even though LAND OF THE DEAD pulled it off very well (good mix). As mentioned before some movies can pull them off well like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and some can't the trailer for KING KONG looks bad (and its the same director). I also hate when it is obvious that the actor are fighting something that was not there when they film (they either look to high or too low). At least animatronics the actors could act with them. Ok I have said too much.
Posted by Chris Fulmer (Member # 3197) on :
Fortunately Jim Henson's Creature Shop is still out there (unless Disney shut it down with the acquisition), and if I ever do make a couple of the projects I have in mind, I intend to use them to their fullest extent.
Posted by Obscurus Lupa (Member # 2700) on :
Chris, that's great. [Smile]
Posted by ISIS (Member # 1780) on :
I hate CGI...perfect example- Fast and the Furious- so fake!! Give me a is so phoney looking.

Give me The Gremlins and E.T. any day of the week...the older effects like stuff from Poltergeist...that was cool film making.

Batman Begins is the first actual movie where I thought the effects fit the actual movie, it probably was a tad over done, but some of it was really cool, and didn't look as phoney as other movies.

Garfield sucked to no end. Give me Harry and the Hendersons.

I like things that look "real". A computer generated effect looks like a video game...there were parts of my son's Star Wars game that he was saying were clips from the movie, and I way that's CGI in part of the game, and he was was movie clips...and it looked fake.

I'll take the effects in American Werewolf in London any day of the week too, than The Ring.
Posted by Obscurus Lupa (Member # 2700) on :
Gremlins is a great example. They even said in the commentary on the DVD that if it were done today it'd probably all be done with CGI. Heck, even claymation beats out the bad CGI anytime. But, y'know, Jurassic Park wouldn't be anything without the CGI. But it was very well done and detailed. It didn't look fake at all--I watched the special features on my DVD and found out that in closeup shots of the t-rex they used an animatronic head, and I had no idea. I couldn't even tell the difference.

I still haven't seen American Werewolf in London (it's on my to-do list), but I've seen clips and pictures of the effects and I thought they were great. I know I thought American Werewolf in Paris was great EXCEPT the look of the werewolves. I mean, the design was horrible anyway, but the CGI looked very fake.

[ 01. July 2005, 22:04: Message edited by: Obscurus Lupa ]
Posted by ISIS (Member # 1780) on :
Lupa...American Werewolf in London is awesome, I remember watching it with my mouth hanging open...I could not understand "how they did that"...even when I saw how they did do was amazing. It is scary. The Werewolf at the end is so cool...when he is walking around on the streets of London...that is neat stuff!

Cat People was freaky like that too....when the girl turns in to the Black Panther...that freaked me looks real.

I think the Jurassic Park (the first one) looked better than the last one they did...they said they changed the Raptures to make them look more real...but I thought they looked more fake in part 3. I thought the first ones were better, and now with the clips of King Kong...that T-Rex looks totally can't be scared...when you know how they do it...there is no mystic about movies any more.
Posted by ISIS (Member # 1780) on :
Gremlins was awesome...when they showed them eating....and Gizmo's expressions...even when he fell upside down in the garbage can...Bright Light! Bright Light!! He was so cute. To see Billy actually holding something "real"...that to me is cooler, than someone running from something in front of a blue screen.
Posted by Obscurus Lupa (Member # 2700) on :
Isis- Well, even real-looking raptors couldn't save the third Jurassic Park. Plus those feathers (although more accurate because they think raptors may have had feathers) looked really, uh . . . not scary. Plus that Spinosaurous was just annoying. Monsters aren't interesting unless they have faults or weaknesses.

I thought it was interesting to hear about how they did stuff in Gremlins, like building gigantic heads for close-up shots of the Mogwais.
Posted by thebazman (Member # 1741) on :
ISIS, good to talk to you again, i don't know if you remember me from the last time i was around.

Gremlins, and ET, such excellent examples. How terrible would these movies be if nowadays with horrible cgi instead of the realness of animatronics, models etc.

i also think its what gives that cuteness factor too. Flight of the navigator is another one.

Lord of the rings definitly benefitied from cgi as it was done very skillfully, and your right about blade too, they should have used real materials instead of cgi blood, phuh,lol

I dont know what people think of Howard the Duck here but i loved it, maybe cause of the age i was when i saw it but if garfield was more like that it would have made such a difference.

Posted by Brode (Member # 3732) on :
Bad CGI looks just as bad as bad animatronics or bad puppetry. You can't say one is worse than the other, because it's all in the application.
It's like an E chord and an A chord. One isn't better than the other, it's how they are applied (although G# is maybe the worst chord ever).

That said, CGI certainly gives you alot more openings and alot more control than animatronics or puppetry ever will. But it's all in the execution. I'll stick with CGI, because there's no way Lord of the Rings would have the same scale as it would with puppet orcs. Hell, even Forrest Gump, from 1994, not an action or sci-fi or anything regular for using CGI, used tens of shots for things as small as duplicating a massive crowd of thousands around the Washington Monument. They even transplant sky to make the film more beautiful. I'll stick with the CGI.
Posted by ISIS (Member # 1780) on :
I hated the CGI in Forrest Gump, that looked like blue screen all the when he was shaking hands with JFK...and said "I gotta pee"...that was so phoney. Plus, they show too much of how the movie is made...and that is what takes away from the movie.

Hey Bazman....I do remember you, and I thought it was great to see you come back...all the cool older people(ones that have been here a long time) are showing back around again...there's people that I just saw the other day on The Malster, Hordak, Tim Cappello, even Missie...and Kash and Riptide are back around...and I think it is so cool to see familiar "names' me it is the same as a familiar "face".

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