3. Practical Effects vs. Special Effects
Who are Practical Effects? The art of crafting special effects without the use of computer software
Who are Computer Generated Effects? Digitally included special effects
Verdict: Anyone who saw this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road can tell you how refreshing it is to see practical effects in action. After decades spent trying to convince yourself that CGI looks real, finally there’s a return to special effects’ origin.
In Lord of the Rings’ defense, the CGI used to animate the Balrog and all those armies, among other things, was top drawer stuff. If it all looks old hat now, it’s because those movies set the standard for what grand and creeping stuff CGI can do in the 21st century. Every other fantasy movie with a decent budget since has sought to emulate it.
The practical effects used in the original Star Wars trilogy were, unlike Mad Max, not a matter of taste. They were simply the only option. This was an era well before computers were powerful enough to handle what LOTR’s animators could envision. And like LOTR did for CGI, Star Wars set the standard for what could be done with some well-designed props and camera tricks.
That process takes time, however, and takes real talent and patience to pull off. Simply for the amount of effort and craft, the choice here is easy.
Star Wars wins
Next: 2. Inspiration vs. Inspiration