Stop motion vs CGI

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C.T.1290
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Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby C.T.1290 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:39 pm

This is the sort of debate that has been going for sometime among movie goers. From seeing some comments on YouTube, I found that a lot of people favor stop animation over cgi. The major reason for that is because they believe it’s more real.

Anyway, which do you believe is better between those two effects?
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby silvermoonlight » Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:22 am

I like both mediums like I'm a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen and the Jim Henson type puppets and animatronics and I genuinely miss them and it is nice to see that they are having a come back with The Dark Crystal age of resistance and critters. Stop motion has yet to have a come back and it would be really sad to see it go

My issue with CGI is it depends on who is crafting it as the GI in Pacific Rim is beautiful as well as Shin Godzilla and Godzilla king of the monsters, I've noticed for anything big slow moving it tends to work where it fails is with small monsters as the creators have them move to fast or have no slow tracking moment, like in alien covenant my biggest issue was the aliens speed it moves so fast your brain goes not real. I really want moviemakers in the west to get a handle on this as if you watch CGI in the East some of it is way better as they make smaller monsters move slower hence they feel more realistic.

I also have no issue with adding cars and planes, but the tinted grey screen is starting to get on my nerves and I really want them to go back to fully vibrant colour.
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby Justacrazyguy » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:03 am

My dislike of CG is something I state with some frequency, so to say I prefer stop motion is no surprise. That said, while it is charming, I find that it's not necessarily superior to CG most of the time.

I was watching Clash of Titans and the Sinbad movies some time ago, and much of the stop motion, while gorgeous, has not aged gracefully. The clash with the live action reaches the unintentionally humorous at times.
I noticed that the best moments were those when the creatures were hidden in shadows or they were some sort of mechanical beast.

Take for example the use of stop motion on Robocop 1 and 2. I find that stop motion fits these robots better than dogs or animals. we know what animals look and move like, but when it's a robot? Or a really weird monster? Then is the moment when I think stop motion really beats CG. To me Robocop 2 still has some of the most spectacular stop motion I've ever seen, and no CG could have made it look more real.

Realistically, I doubt stop motion will ever be used in any significant amount in live action movies in the future. Too much work for producers and directors, unfortunately.

Of course, I'm talking about movies where the stop motion is used in conjunction with live action. Full stop motion movies are their own thing and I quite enjoy them. I'm having some fun with the "sort of" anime Olympia Kyklos that's coming out right now.
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:00 am

The two techniques are used for completely different reasons. After King Kong (and maybe even a little before) stop motion was really never used to integrate photorealism in their inherently fantastical visuals. I vaguely remember reading one movie critic back in the 1920's saying that, while impressive, no one was fooled by Willis O'Brien's stop motion dinosaurs for The Lost World. Raymond Harryhausen himself said (in the audio commentary for King Kong, I think) that stop-motion animation has a uniquely dream-like aesthetic to it. The special effects shots accomplished by Willis O'Brien and his team in King Kong especially have that unique flavor to them. The scene of the Brontosaurus violently snatching people out of the water comes to mind the most often, as the juxtaposition of the full-scale puppet head with shots of the stop-motion animated model give a very unnerving quality to the scene as a whole. As an audience member, I'm never quite sure exactly how the "monster" is gonna appear in the next shot, and it makes me feel a little terrified. It's great, actually, to get an emotional reaction like that out of a special-effects heavy movie produced in black & white with mono sound, and with techniques that are bordering on 100 years old by now. Many shots and even entire scenes in the 1954 film Godzilla already achieved that photo-realism using what's known in the industry as "Creature Suits." You just dress you actor up in a convincing looking suit, and have him perform in a convincing looking set, and you're good. Sure, not all of the shots achieved that desired effect using this method, it definitely depended on execution, but that's true with almost everything anyway. If it was realism that certain special effects artists were aiming for, Creature Suits gave you a lot more bang for your buck. (Stan Winston really stepped the Creature Suit game up with his studio.) And yet, even after this method was developed, many special effect artists still returned to the fantastical quality of stop-motion animation for their scenes.

The use of CGI in many live-action movies has always swayed more towards photo-realism. This isn't a bad thing, but it's almost certainly an unfair thing. Like I said before, stop-motion was always intended to look more fantastical than photo-realistic. If the artists weren't at the top of their technical game then effect might look less impressive, but at least it still wouldn't take away from the fantastical nature of the image. In Creature Suits, even of the effect looks less than stellar, it still, at the very least, looks like a thing that really exists in front of the camera. CGI, on the other hand, has WAY more hurdles it needs to jump over before it can not detract from the goal of the effect. If CGI doesn't look near flawless, then the uncanny valley is gonna hit harder than usual. Not only do bad CGI shots look unconvincing, some of them don't even look like they're part of the same shot, despite taking up space on the screen with real-life actors. This isn't to say I think CGI is bad, it's just that there are a lot more challenges to making it look acceptable than other techniques might require. I was actually surprised by how much I liked the use of CGI in Alita: Battle Angel; all signs had pointed to it looking terrible prior to it coming to theaters. Thanos is another stellar example of CGI in the last two Avengers films, as is the award-winning effects work on 1917. Outside of maybe a couple effects shots that don't land quite right, Shin Godzilla has some amazing use of CGI. (Which makes sense if the point of the Creature Suits in 1954 were photo-realism anyway.)

I do think, though, that now that CGI is basically here to stay, we've lost the art of truly fantastical imagery in fantasy film. Sure, it was nice to watch LOTR and see Middle Earth look so real that I felt like I could walk through it if I wanted to, but I do miss how fantastical and story-like the same movies looked before the bar was set to be photo-realistic all the time. Just compare Peter Jackson's 2005 film King Kong to the 1933 King Kong. Sure, the monsters look mostly realistic in a lot of those scenes, but the scenes that don't get to that quality look bad in a very unnatural way. And, regardless of how well the CGI is accomplished, fantastical imagery is gone all together. None of the scenes look like they're coming from nightmares or pleasant dreams or anything like that. (Except for the nightmarish giant bug scene in the 2005 film, but I think that was due to the creature design and the ambient sound design rather than the aesthetic of the scene as a whole.)
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby C.T.1290 » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:38 am

View Original PostJustacrazyguy wrote:Take for example the use of stop motion on Robocop 1 and 2. I find that stop motion fits these robots better than dogs or animals. we know what animals look and move like, but when it's a robot? Or a really weird monster? Then is the moment when I think stop motion really beats CG. To me Robocop 2 still has some of the most spectacular stop motion I've ever seen, and no CG could have made it look more real.

I agree, the stop animation in the Robocop films were really good. They really outdid themselves at that time. And I think that’s how robots would actually move.
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby Justacrazyguy » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:33 pm

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:
I do think, though, that now that CGI is basically here to stay, we've lost the art of truly fantastical imagery in fantasy film.


While I don't watch that many movies, I think this statement is a little exaggerated. Stop Motion may now be in the realm of it's own, separate from live action, but surely there is still space for other types of practical effects that can still bring that element of the wonderful and bizarre? Guys in rubber suits is still a thing, if the last Godzila is anything to go by, and the use of miniatures and mechanical puppets continues, albeit in reduced format.

Frankly, I've always though that mechanical or other sorts of dolls and suits were always the most immersive. Stop Motion is great because it excels with robots and odd beasts and can allow great movement, but it suffers from the fact it's not really there, like CG.
Dolls and puppets are there. Sure, they suffer from being cumbersome and unable to move much, but I honestly think that they manage to beat both CG and stop motion in many ways.

They really outdid themselves at that time


Robocop 2 comes around the end of that age, when CG was starting to be a real force in the movie industry. In my opinion, the final fight sequence in Robocop 2 is the best stop motion I have ever seen, although my nostalgia may be playing a part in that.
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:15 pm

View Original PostJustacrazyguy wrote:While I don't watch that many movies, I think this statement is a little exaggerated. Stop Motion may now be in the realm of it's own, separate from live action, but surely there is still space for other types of practical effects that can still bring that element of the wonderful and bizarre? Guys in rubber suits is still a thing, if the last Godzila is anything to go by, and the use of miniatures and mechanical puppets continues, albeit in reduced format.

I thought the last couple Godzilla movies (both in America and in Japan) were CGI heavy. I think they both used motion-capture suits. (Though, there were a LOT of miniature effects in Shin Godzilla, which I greatly appreciated.)

But, yeah, most of my post was focused on their utilization in live-action films as special effects elements. If we're talking about fully animated films, then that's a whole different conversation than the one I've been thinking of. Though, the aesthetic between the two animation techniques seems to have decided over the past decade between CGI being the Disney/family-friendly aesthetic, with stop-motion animation being marketed almost like the "Hot Topic"-type alternative. There certainly is room for that fantastical imagery in fully animated films using stop-motion and the like. I just wish it wasn't nearly completely absent from most live-action movies.
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Re: Stop motion vs CGI

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Postby Natalie the Cat » Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:03 pm

There’s nothing wrong with CGI and it’s straight up better than stop motion for 99% of things stop motion used to be used for. People rent about CGI but when it’s used properly people often don’t even notice it, or mistake it for a practical effect.

I think stop motion, along with puppetry and other techniques, should be used as a deliberate artistic choice, like filming a modern movie in black and white. It would be really awesome to see a talented director combine stop motion animation and puppetry with cgi (to enhance the latter two effects) for a main character in a live action movie or something.


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