About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

1 Comment

  1. That is very cool. When I think of the first computer animated scenes in television and movies – which were little better than rotoscoped animation from the twenties – and what we’re seeing in the movies today, it’s fantastic!

    The downside though, is the cost of doing CG. And it’s not just the monetary cost. Because everybody is going digital, the art of matte painting and model making is in danger of dying out. That said, CG has one great advantage over Matte painting – with matte painted scenery, you could only show a scene from one single vantage point and you couldn’t enter the scene and move around. CG breaks the barrier of the canvas and pulls you inside. Some of the danger of losing old technology can be seen in Return of the Jedi, where stop motion animation was used for the Rancor scenes. It was very well done, but it wasn’t perfect. The color and lighting of the models did not match the scene it was composited into, which takes me out of the movie every time I see it.

    Is it worth the extra $100 million it can add to the cost of a movie? In most cases, I’d say probably. For things like Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, Star Wars and Star Trek, heck yeah! But it can be overdone as in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where the whole movie was done in blue screen CG and motion capture. It was a wonderful and expensive thought exercise, but it’s not my favorite sci-fi movie of all time. All in all, the great cost of CG effect means that they are rarely squandered on turkeys, which has raised the standard of sci-fi movies immeasurably by making B-quality monster/horror sci-fi too expensive for studios to spew out by the bucket load like they did in the fifties and sixties, (which nearly sunk the genre until Star Wars came along and revitalized the art form). I cannot for the life of me remember a good sci-fi movie that came out of the fifties and sixties except for 2001 and Forbidden Planet. Most of what we got was tripe like “The Green Slime” and “Santa Claus versus The Martians”. Where sci-fi movies are concerned, now is a very good time to be alive.

    Now, if only we could get the book store to quit mixing sci-fi, monster and magic books, and fantasy genre novels into one section, I could die a happy man. I took the local Borders manager to task, when there still were Borders, about this, explaining that horror novels and fantasy novels and witchcraft novels were NOT sci-fi. She explained that they had limited shelf space and that was why they mixed the genre together. I pointed out that twelve linear feet of shelf space was twelve linear feet, no matter what was put on the shelf, and it would take no more space to segregate the sci-fi from the fantasy books that it did to merge them together. She looked at me like I was speaking to her in Klingon. At that point I gave up. :)

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