Recently I have watched two films which aptly demonstrate the great potential in both range and beauty when CGI is used sensitively and responsibly. Life of Pi and Paperman.
If you haven’t seen Paperman yet you should really go check it out.
What’s so fascinating about these two films is the difference of approach. Life of Pi has used CGI to create some of the most realistic and believable water ever seen on screen, as well as pushing the boundaries of creating lifelike creatures. Paperman however uses the same technology to create a whimsical portrayal of New York rendered in the style of paper cutouts and charcoal. The whole film, partly due to being in black and white seems to be an ink or charcoal drawing brought to life.
I feel like this is a step forwards for film; the pinnacle of realism has been reached for CGI. It no longer needs to be a slave to capturing photorealism but can now move gracefully into being a tool towards a much wider and more beautiful future. I can’t wait to see what appears in the next few years, we can now use computers to make the impossible totally lifelike or to capture the beauty of a charcoal line in motion.
As a sidenote: Paperman has given me much more hope for the future of Disney/Pixar who I’d largely lost faith in given their propensity to throw away their heritage in 2D animation and make mediocre CGI films and even yet more sequels for their classics (The Little Mermaid 3 we’re looking at you). Paperman is not only a brave step forward but a look back into the golden age of Disney.