The importance of Star Wars returning to its practical VFX roots


Of course, it also depends on the effects themselves. Practical bad effects, while campy, can still achieve a sort of cult status. There’s a whole genre of retro horror and sci-fi movies that can attest to that. But if your movie has bad CGI, either because it’s too close to Weird Valley or because it’s visually incongruous, it usually doesn’t get a second chance. For Muren (seen above), the choice between the two is obvious:

“Actually, in some ways, I prefer a practical thing that doesn’t look good. I can’t relate to a digital image [that looks fake]. I don’t feel like I can touch it. If it’s done well, great. I totally love it. It’s just that there’s so much work the industry has had to do lately and budgets have been cut so much that there’s not enough time to polish it. I don’t think it’s very good. I always like to see something and think, ‘Hey, they tried.’ I feel like if I reached out my hand, I could touch this thing.”

There was a time when CGI was used to fill in seemingly impossible gaps that practical effects couldn’t. Today, it looks less like a fancy tool and more like a catch-all for any production that can afford it. CGI can be used when it’s not really needed, and even in scenes where it’s needed, budget cuts can make it still subpar.

If you’re going to put special effects in your film, a key question should be, “Is it going to last for the next few decades?” A good example is “Jurassic Park”, a movie Muren also worked on that combined the use of CGI-enhanced built models. The movie’s T-rex has stood the test of time and even beaten modern attempts to recreate the magic that made the creature so realistic. But despite “Star Wars” ushering in the digital age of cinema, the franchise hasn’t entirely forgotten its practical roots, especially in recent years.


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