Aneurin Facilitation 2/18

In his article, “Perceptual Realism” Stephen Prince attempts to tackle the question of is there any risk to the realism of film as technology evolves? As technology becomes more and more capable, films begin to take on this realism that he mentions many times rivals that of real life and suddenly what’s being seen on screen is now perhaps more real than it should be. Prince believes that this creates real issues for film theorists.

The first topic that Prince discusses is the power of CGI and how it has changed the movie going experience. Film theory has long held the idea that anything seen on screen is something that could be seen in the real world, CGI has smashed through that idea.

This scene from Jurassic Park is a fitting example, this is not something that someone in 2020 would ever see, yet if you were to sit in a movie theater you would believe you are seeing a real dinosaur due to the power of CGI and how digital correspondence works in our brains.

  The most impactful part of CGI may be that in 2020 we believe this is what a Dinosaur looked like, not because a scientist said so, or because we saw bones but because Steven Spielberg and his talented team are able to convince us of that through film. This is the issue that film theorists must wrestle with, no longer is film simply a viewing but it’s now something that changes us as viewers and what we believe.

How could it be that Forrest Gump was able to run for years like he does in this scene back and forth across America? Of course,no one would be capable of this nor would it be possible for an actor to do this so quickly, but the power of film suspends any need for belief because in six minutes we see him do it.

This suspending of reality is something that has been happening even more Paul Walker  is an example of this. Paul Walker was an actor that starred in many of the Fast and Furious films and after his tragic death was brought back through his brother’s face and CGI to appear in one more film. This is now crossing the gap between a film and a truly emotional reaction, people who viewed all of the Fast and Furious films had built a relationship with the actors and Paul Walker’s tragic death caused them pain. His return postmortem caused an extraordinary reaction and truly did bring him back to life. This is a powerful moment in film as well as Paul Walker’s family is given the chance to see him alive on screen one more time. This emotional reaction is brought to life in the music video done by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.

The power of CGI is only growing as shown by the award-nominated film, The Irishman. In this film actors such as Robert De Niro plays a character at many different ages across decades. This suspends our idea of time and allows us to become fully involved in the story because we have seen Robert De Niro get older.

This is a short video that describes this process more in-depth and the kind of impact it may have on the film industry. 

Finally, many parts of technology have changed our lives for the better or worse. CGI should enhance our entertainment experience as long as we recognize its power. Prince warns about its influence on us and as long as we are aware of that we can keep enjoying our dinosaurs and young Robert De Niro.

19 thoughts to “Aneurin Facilitation 2/18”

  1. The argument in the facilitation towards CGI and its advancements over the years and what they do for us is, in my mind right. CGI and the advancements of technology have greatly influenced our looks on what we know nothing about; ie the Dinosaur. Using the dinosaur example Aneurin used for me at least that is what I believe a T-Rex to look like, not because I’ve seen a real one but because the CGI used felt real to me and put my imagination to the screen. Then the altering of reality, POV and others (expressed in the Fast 7 ending and Forest Gump’s Run) can make us feel things for characters/people we never really knew personally but it still affects us because of the effects it has on the other characters and it lets us see that with our own eyes. With Aneurin’s ending comments though he is right again, we must recognize the power of this technology lest it alters our reality to the point where we can no longer differentiate between what is real and what is not.

  2. I think this was an excellent facilitation over Prince’s piece. Your example over the Jurassic Park Dinosaur, the T-Rex and how it defined what the Dinosaur looked like to the general population reminds me of the series “Walking With Dinosaurs”. In this short six part series, the narrator introduces the viewers to several different CGI created Dinosaurs, saying that they have been created off of fossil records and what they think the creatures might have looked like. Not to mention, they made a fairly decent attempt at making the entire show feel like a documentary, which helped push its creations as more lifelike and true.

    I remember watching this show as a child because I though “Dinosaurs are cool and awesome!” and being mesmerized by how they looked like, never imagining that they could look like anything different due to them being already shown on the screen. Over time, we have made several new breakthroughs in what we think that the Dinosaurs might have looked like, most specifically them being feathered instead of being scaly and pure reptilian. However, even though this fact is now widely accepted, a good portion of people still think that they are un-feathered and Reptilian. I would wager that this thought is due to shows like Walking with Dinosaurs and Jurassic park, which feature life like Dinosaurs and impressive scenes that push the ideas of what their creations look like onto their viewers. Such as Prince warned, CGI has influenced our thoughts, in this case over how the Dinosaurs looked like; even though the intentions of these movies and other media’s weren’t malicious, they still ended up rooting an idea into their audience.

  3. As the article focuses on Perceptual Realism, I found these examples very fitting considering the purpose of CGI. A line that captured my attention the most was, “This is the issue that film theorists must wrestle with, no longer is film simply a viewing but it’s now something that changes us as viewers and what we believe.” Because of CGI, us as viewers are able to capture and witness a variety of scenes that are potentially non-existent. The purpose in this is to encompass the idea that un-real images can be revealed as real. In this sense, this can be related to cinematography for the purpose of “how” a scene is being showcased. Several components come in to play with cinematography but the idea of the significance within the frame reveals a technique much more complex. CGI is one of the many ways something un-real and complex can be projected. The Forest Gump scene in this response, I believe, was a perfect example of this idea because of how well it reflects the meaning behind revealing the technique of producing something that is not possible yet makes it believable.

  4. I really like the ideas and examples that Aneurin expands on from the readings here. From the reading, I noted where Prince actually quoted Kracauer, saying that “films come into their own when they record and reveal physical activity” (272). This really made me think about the way fiction movies seem to feel more like realistic fiction, specifically in superhero movies. The one which comes to mind is Spiderman: Homecoming, where the film creates a character which is a regular person, but is also a superhero. The character’s initial interactions with other normal humans sets the tone for the entire film as being real, and the connections that the character has with others are real. Then, as the character becomes Spiderman, the viewer still perceives him as real based on the prior scenes. He also continuously switches back and forth between being normal and a superhero. He lives in the same “world” in both, existing in the same physical spaces and seeing the same people. These elements combine to create a sense of realism for the audience.

    1. An excellent point, Jacob, about the ways his “normal” interactions set the bar for what we consider realistic, which then makes his superhero behavior feel more realistic by extension. And Spiderman is probably the quintessential example of this. Other superhero stories – Iron Man, Captain America, Superman – try to do this at times, but arguably not nearly as well.

  5. One of the things that stood out to me the most while reading Prince’s essay on Perceptual Realism was the idea that the viewer response to digital imaging is not well understood. Why is it, for example, that Jurassic Park’s digitally reanimated dinosaurs are widely celebrated, whereas the resurrection of late actors through the use of CGI (as seen in the Fast and Furious franchise) is still uncomfortable territory for some? Objectively speaking, both are incredible technological feats, but I find my reaction to the dinosaurs much easier to define. As Aneurin put it in his facilitation, with the use of such technology, films have the capacity to change what we believe about reality—Spielberg’s “real” dinosaurs have since influenced our ideas of what dinosaurs were really like. Still, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are only his interpretation. I wonder, then, how digitally resurrecting celebrities changes our perception of what they were “really” like. Is bringing them back to life not also subject to a director’s interpretation? Whether this is harmful or not, I can’t really say. Still, as technology allows us to reverse death onscreen, I think it is vital we consider the difference between a living actor playing a role, and an image of an actor made to look and feel alive.

    1. Surely this is an example of the uncanny valley effect we discussed on Tuesday, right? They’re *almost* human, but not quite, so we’re creeped out by it.

  6. One of the lines in Aneurin’s facilitation made me want to look further into the idea of perceptual realism. “This is the issue that film theorists must wrestle with, no longer is film simply a viewing but it’s now something that changes us as viewers and what we believe.” Prince discussed the process of creating a realistic, talking President Kennedy in Forrest Gump, as well as using CGI to present living dinosaurs within Jurassic Park. The digital imagery studios were able to create something so realistic, that viewers don’t really stop to consider if it’s actually real or not. A lot of the things in films today are not things that we could go out and see somewhere in the real world. This fact doesn’t matter to most viewers, however, because we’re convinced that this is what the real versions would look because of how the film presents them. The power of CGI will likely continue to push the boundary of perceptual realism, which will also push film theorists to adapt and be more conscious of the influence that CGI has on viewers.

  7. This facilitation does a really good job at representing perceptual realism in many different ways, from CGI to editing. The variety of examples you provide really show how many ways you can create perceptual realism. Though technology is the main way film makers create a sense of realism, one aspect I felt was important that was left out is practical effects. For example, the original trilogy of Star Wars uses a lot of scale models for stop motion. Another example would be the movie Alien. This movie uses practical effects like puppets ad animatronics in order to create a whole new layer of realism. The alien is actually there but isn’t actually an alien compared to CGI where the alien isn’t actually there at all. I believe practical effects cause people to believe in a deeper sense of realism in a film, although these days, as CGI evolves, it gets harder and harder to actually tell for sure whether it is CGI or not. Here is a link to a video where Adam Savage learns and talks about the animatronics used in the more recent Alien: Covenant.

  8. In the article, True Lies: Perceptual Realism, Digital Images, and Film Theory, it says “…cinematic representation developed here, perceptual realism, the accurate replication of valid 3D cues, becomes not only the glue cementing digitally created and live action environments, but also the foundation upon which the uniquely transformational functions of cinema exist.” (pg. 282) I believe that the examples displayed in Aneurin’s facilitation could not be a more exact representation of this concept. Specifically, in the movie “Forest Gump”, the producers not only portray the main character’s physical appearance changing while running across the country, but even when he and Jenny were in grade school. As mentioned in Aneurin’s facilitation, viewers don’t have time to see character’s full life story, however through the acts of perceptual realism, the movie insinuates that we are there for the ins and outs of the character’s disposition in just an hour or so. I also would like to bring into account the tv series “The Walking Dead”. Although zombies have been a myth for several years, the show insinuates that the epidemic created this mass destruction that citizens now have to deal with by showing us the transition from human to zombie. Furthermore, as the show has evolved to a mainstream tv series, it is evident that viewers are captivated by the interactions between zombies and humans as they battle to survive. This fully sets the stage for viewers to believe that zombies are substantial in the realm of The Walking Dead, even though we have always established that zombies are a myth.

  9. The examples given show how digital imaging lets filmmakers expand the concepts of realism. As the author said, digital imaging has changed the way we think about the camera and what can be seen in front of the camera. As we have seen time and time again and from the examples given in this article, the presence of a camera and a profilmic event is no longer a necessity to have photographic images. However, just because the digitally generated images are not real does not mean filmmakers do not employ any degree of realism. As mentioned by the author, digital imaging contains reference points with what the viewer understands about light, space and how objects move and behave in a three-dimensional world. This gives the viewer a comfortability and helps them assess the logic of the images on the screen.

  10. I enjoyed reading and viewing through these examples. I would like to add on to this list of examples. I recently viewed the film Chronicle; it was released in 2012 and utilizes CGI along with other elements to convince the audience that what was recorded was indeed real. Here’s the trailer, so that you know what I am talking about: .
    The whole movie is essentially shot from a cheap video camera and the boys experimenting with their newly received power of telekinesis is all recorded. The use of a low-quality camera subconsciously convinces the viewers that what they are about to witness is based on real events. The movie walks the audience through the characters slow and steady development of power, from barely being able to move small objects to eventually flying. Regarding the CGI use and the superpower development, the CGI used intensifies as the movie proceeds. An interesting part of the film is where the main character shows the viewers and his friend that he can record himself without holding the camera. I believe they did this so that the movie could carefully transition from first person to a third person perspective. This is a great example of how film creators utilize CGI as a medium of convincing viewers that what they are seeing is realistic.

  11. The use of CGI and other technological advances play a very big role into the overall effectiveness of the project. As you had pointed out with your examples, the technology and animation allows for the movies to truly convince the audience and their perception of the film that the effects being used are real. Having said that, I do see a bit of a flaw with the use of CGI. As the world keeps turning, and as we keep advancing technologically, we begin to update and upgrade previous effects and devices. With this in mind, the use of CGI is truly only effective for a certain amount of time. For example, looking back at classics like Star Wars and the effects used, we can’t really convince ourselves that the movie is realistic or has a lot of realism due to the fact that we are so used to having a crisp and clean CGI with so many other abilities. My point is that the CGI works for the time it is in, but does not hold up for the future.

    1. This is an important point; one way to think about it is as the need for CGI tech to be constantly evolving *toward* realism: the more realistic CGI looks/feels, the “better” we will consider it.

  12. I really love the example about the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park that Aneurin used. Before watching the movie, the audience could have no prior knowledge about the physical appearance of dinosaurs, but through the powerful impact of CGI, believe it to be true that the animated creatures presented in the film are a correct depiction of what dinosaurs looked like in the past. This is very scary to think about because we all consume the media in some form everyday, and though we can often easily tell reality apart from fantasy, there generally is always some aspect of the media that we are unconsciously intaking and applying to our daily lives. When reading Stephen Prince’s article, “Perceptual Realism,” I really liked the following quote: “Film theory needs now to pay closer attention to what viewers see on the screen, how they see it, and the relation of these processes to the larger issue of how viewers see.” Though I love watching animated movies, when I think about this quote I think about my younger brother who has grown up watching movies like Avengers and Jurassic Park, and how it has affected his perception of the world. He is old enough to understand that superheroes do not exist and that dinosaurs are extinct, but what about the younger generations? How will their knowledge of these fantasy worlds impact their future? With this, I am eager to witness the upcoming digital and technological advancements in the coming years, but hope that we will be able to use them effectively and carefully.

    1. Great point, and a classic (literally) concern: Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, was worried about actors on the Ancient Greek stage would convince some in the audience that they were *really* doing the things they depicted on stage. 🙂

  13. The discussion about how CGI has become more of a video production tool that “changes us as viewers and what we believe” really struck me and helped me realize how deep rooted CGI is and how it can really affect people. When using the Jurassic park video clip example the example that film is no longer able to be just for viewing purposes but rather something that can change or shape our beliefs. Accurate and varying examples of how CGI operate and function in the film industry are expressed through Aneurin’s work which really helps get across the deep root CGI has planted within the industry.
    I do believe however that as CGI actively changes our perception of reality, we also have the knowledge and brain capacity to understand how unreal CGI really is and that it plays a part in a video picture. I appreciated Aneurin’s take on this paper, really focusing on how CGI has evolved and how it helps filmmakers create these elaborate masterpieces which then are so put together that it causes this tension/debate about what’s reality or not in these film and class communities. As stated in his work, by understanding the power of these film tools we will then be able to enhance our watching experience, rather then letting it shape our own realities.

  14. The representation about CGI in Anuerin’s facilitation brought up some good ideas about how an audience reacts with CGI. CGI is one of the first things Prince mentions. CGI has the power to make our thoughts and ideas into realistic sightings. Aneurin brought up the example of Jurassic Park and the dinosaur. Dinosaurs are no longer real, however in the movie Jurassic Park it looks as if they are still walking the Earth. Another good example is the live action movie of The Lion King. The Lion King is similar to Jurassic Park in a way that they take live action animals and make them talk in a way that it looks real. CGI messes with our idea of realism in the movie industry. In today’s world, most movies use CGI in some way. CGI is a very powerful form of technology because it is able to morph our sense of reality.

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