Refining and Defining – Current Situation

June 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm (Refining and Defining, Research)

Different Techniques

There are many techniques involved within Computer Generated Imagery, all using different Software and Hardware applications to create the desired effect. They include digital compositing, green screen (Chroma Key), motion graphics, computer animation and IMAX technologies. For the purposes of this essay I shall concentrate on two areas for case studies, the green screen and computer generated animation/3D modelling.

The green screen, or blue screen, works by filming actors in front of a bright, single coloured screen so digitally enhanced backgrounds can be used instead of filming on location. The whole process is relatively cheap to produce, and because of this the process is widely popular. Green and blue are used as they are deemed the furthest away from human skin colour; although green is preferred as image sensors in cameras are more sensitive to green. The computer-generated backgrounds are then put in place by selecting the screen colour and replacing it with the imagery, a process known as ‘keying’. Clothing plays a big part in the process, as they cannot be the same colour as the screen otherwise they will be deleted when the scene is edited.

Computer generated imagery is evident in many of today’s movies. It can range from special effects on action movies to movies made completely from CGI. Personally I find CGI in movies to be a huge selling point, the better the graphics the more chance I’m going to see it. As I will be looking at Toy Story as a case study, I shall focus on 3D modelling.

3D modelling consists of characters/objects generated from a series of manipulated edges, faces and vertices programmed to move be the use of a skeleton and a set of joints. Movement is controlled by keyframing in a timeline. ‘Skins’ are then attached to the models to give them the desired effect when rendered. Models can contain literally hundreds or control points; ‘Woody’ from Toy Story contains 700 alone.

Popularity/Successful Movies

CGI is in use in most movies that come out in the current market. Some directors do still chose to film all their footage traditionally for the purposes of the film, although the majority use at least small elements of CGI to touch up the final edits if not produce the majority of the film. I feel this is a good thing, especially with the advancements in technologies available. I like the crisp, clean feel you get with computer-generated imagery, I like the modern stylised look to the movies, and I feel the techniques will only grow more popular, even more so with the successes of the Frank Miller comic book adaptations like Sin City (2005) and The Spirit (2008).

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