CGI vs. Make-Up – By Michael Giovannini

Perhaps the largest argument in Hollywood effects, and even in small town film groups, are the pros and cons of CGI vs. Make-Up. Many are very valid points and true to form, but others are just ludicrous! For example, CGI does not always look “fake” and thrown together. Take the Cave Trolls from this past few years Blockbusters, Lord of the Rings. I doubt very seriously that they could have been done any better with animatronics and face powder! In fact, THAT would have made it look too fake. Now again I have to stress, this is just one person’s humble opinion!

Perhaps something that is NOT an opinion though is the fact of just how many people are out of a profession because someone else can do a better job at the stroke of a few keys! Although sad, from a humanity level, thus is the way of life. I enjoy some of the CGI blockbusters like Mighty Joe Young, Lord of the Rings, Armageddon and the like. At the same time, make-up films like Fulci’s Zombie, Passion of the Christ, the Alien series, & Predator just wouldn’t have the same feel to them.

Is one better than the other? Ask a make-up artist and they will say yes. Ask a CGI animator and they will say yes. Ask the everyday fan who shells out $9.00 to see someone’s head explode, or the newest version of the Enterprise grace the silver screen, and they will most likely say “No.” Who is right? My guess is the fan who is paying for the work, which ever it is!

What exactly is behind all this knowledge? What do people have to go through to be able to entertain us on these varying planes of intellect? I believe if people knew just what kind of time and dedication was invested into each one of these professions, there would be a whole new kind of mutual appreciation!

The CGI artist has to go through close to 4 years of PC education. They are expected to learn not only the latest programs and application, but to get a leg up on the next version due out. Does the layman know just what this entails? Highly doubtful. I would recommend taking a tour of one educational facility called Full Sail in Winter Park Florida. That one school takes the 4 year education and crams it into 15 months. Know what though? Their graduates have worked on films like Titanic and Lord of the Rings.

Besides the aforementioned education, just imagine the intellect needed to do these sorts of things. Codes that need to memorized, placement of animated objects, & dedication of time. All this to just entertain a few people who don’t quite understand. How often do you think they get a “thank you” from the fans? Here’s a hint, when was the last time you thanked a CGI artist/ designer?

CGI artists aren’t the only ones though. How about make-up artists? Sure they are recognized a bit more and are more in touch with the common man, but this in no way makes their talents any better than the other. Sure, you can log onto Tom Savini’s web site and have a chat with the man himself. Sure, you can go any small town and find an amateur make-up artist and shake their hand. But take one thing into consideration, they get better promotion.

Tom Savini is a prime example of said promotion. Back in the day he worked with the greatest zombie man to date, George Romero. Romero not only used his talents on many, many films, but he also put Savini IN the films as well. (Knightriders & Matin to name a couple) When was the last time you saw the animation director to Star Wars actually IN the film?

This whole argument is moot in my opinion. The things that matter most in these films seems to have been lost over the years. Character development, interaction, and most importantly, the ability to actually act! People are getting roles now based purely on the fact of how pretty they are, or how popular they are in other fields of entertainment. Two words for you people, Gigli & Glitter! Keep this in mind the next time you go to film and are wowed by the special effects. Who did them? How talented are they? Could the “Actors” make you believe it? If I have opened at least one set of eyes with this article, I have done my job!