A Progressive Step Backwards?

As many moviegoers may have noticed, the last two decades of cinema have surely followed the curve of technological advances as many of today’s theaters are populated with films that place a heavy reliance on CGI.  Special effects, what was once a primarily physical and practical medium is now dominated by the crutch of digital enhancements. It seems, though, that new developments in software and computer imaging has taken some of the magic out of filmmaking. Not only that, but the onset of more widely available and affordable software programs has largely diluted the professional pool.

Granted, without the assistance of digital 3D modeling, movies such as TRON (1982)Jurassic Park (1993), The Matrix (1999), and The Lord of the Rings (2001) would not have been possible. And don’t forget the epic classic 2012 (2009). Well, not so much…

Lately, however, it seems that there has been a [perhaps only minor] resurgence in the application of miniature models as a means of practical special effects. Take for example, Christopher Nolan, the modern master of grandeur. His two most recent blockbusters, The Dark Knight (2008) and  Inception (2010), have employed the use of scaled miniatures to capture some of their more impressive action sequences.

Check out some behind-the-scenes info from Inception.

There’s hope for miniature effects on a smaller budgets, as well. Check out this campaign for the Sci-Fi short film C 299,792 km/s that made 200% of its goal on Kickstarter. The filmmakers are boasting the use of scale models, all in-camera effects, and no green screen. They were even featured on Wired’s ‘Underwire‘.

*UPDATE* If the embedded Vimeo link isn’t working, try this: A Small Trip To The Making Of Visual Effects – Miniatures Effects on Vimeo

Let’s keep an eye out in the future for more scale model miniature effects.

About Robert Nyerges

Robert Nyerges is a filmmaker currently working in the Los Angeles, CA.
This entry was posted in CGI, Cinema, DIY, Film, Hollywood, Industry, Movies, VFX and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Progressive Step Backwards?

  1. Wow, that’s really interesting. i didn’t know that they used scaled model miniature effects!

    • Robert Nyerges says:

      Yeah, lot’s of films are still doing it and I certainly hope to see more in the future. But filmmakers beware! I came across this recently — I’m not sure if it’s poor CGI or REALLY POOR use of a miniature model… FAIL

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Sam M. says:

    Insightful blog Robert. It will be interesting to see the artistic choices made by you and your colleagues as you take your place in the world of film. Mr. Noland and Wes Anderson (stop motion claymation) must see something very pleasing when using “old school” handmade models to bring their narratives to life. I still get a huge kick introducing middle school students to films like “Jason and the Argonauts” and their reactions to the skeleton warriors, the giant Talos, and the evil hydra made by the masterful Ray Harryhausen. Your blog is thought provoking…

    • Robert Nyerges says:

      Thanks for your support Sam M! I think there is certainly a market for old school filmmaking techniques and I believe that it deserves to hold it’s place in the Hollyood machine. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to improve the blog…

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