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Don't Believe What You See at the Movies 441

MattSparkes writes "Many images you see in a magazine are Photoshopped, and it's getting less and less likely that what you see at the cinema is any more genuine. In the film 'Blood Diamond', tears were added to Jennifer Connolly's face after a scene was shot. According to The Times, digital effects artists can even change actors' expressions. 'Opening or closing eyes; making a limp more convincing; removing breathing signs; eradicating blinking eyelids from a lingering gaze; or splicing together different takes of an unsuccessful love scene to produce one in which both parties look like they are enjoying themselves.' The article mentions the moral qualms digital effects people have over performing these manipulations, and the steps actors are taking to protect their digital assets."
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Don't Believe What You See at the Movies

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:01PM (#18084124) Journal

    Isn't a director's responsibility to convey exactly what he (she) wants to say? Isn't movie-making mostly about suspending belief? Isn't this all make believe (not including documentaries, etc.)?

    It seems to me (and IANAD) directors have the ulimate creative say so in movie creation. I find the manipulation in magazines offensive, because ostensibly a picture of a model represents reasonable facsimiles of that model, often in some context of cause and effect of some beauty products. Distortions and manipulations there are dishonest, and brush up against fraud.

    But movies are supposed to be about make believe. Heck, most movies these days are rife with computer graphics and openly so. What is the nuance and difference with doctoring an actors performance?

    Most actors are what (famous, popular) they are because they were at the right place at the right time. Directors have a tougher case to prove... they are ultimately responsible for the entire package and the effects, emotions, stories, etc., their movies bring. Their palette is more complex. I don't begrudge them their creative license.

    Actors who think otherwise, as stated in the article, can stipulate contractually their work be preserved, but there are few actors who warrant that honor. (I have to laugh that Tom Cruise would stipulate that "manipulation" to make him look better is okay, but else it's not... especially ironic from coming from a Scientologist who interprets a world of "datagrams".)

    Do I feel deceived Jennifer C.'s tears were fake? Hmmmmm.... had she "acted" them, what would have made them any more real?

    • pfft, that is why I watch cartoons!
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:25PM (#18084616) Homepage Journal
      I suspect that the problem actors have is with the fact that as the effects people get better, will they be necessary at all? If the effects department can make better appearance of tears than Jennifer can why not just skip her entirely?
      • Depends on "before/after". Does the director decide not to get the "tear" out of Jennifer *because* he can add it later?

        Or was it a case of the Director was happy with the shot in the dailies, but in editing decided it needed something else?

        The latter is where the flexibility comes in along with a price-tag trade off. Is it cheaper to get Jennifer in, amidst an insane schedule that may have her on the other side of the world filming another movie, to do the one closeup? Or just turn the 48 frame (2 seconds on screen) to a computer department to fill it in.

        It used to be that adding a computer effect for a scene that had no CGI was very expensive. The whole scene would have had to have been computer-scanned. Today, with digital color correction being the norm, everything's in the computer anyways so getting the 48 frames to add the feature into costs nothing.
      • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @11:28PM (#18092006)
        People go to the movies to see the latest Bruce Willis or Meryl Streep flick. Stars aren't stars because they're great actors necessarily, but because people will pay to see their movies. I don't really understand it, just as I don't really understand why people pay to read the celebrity magazines, but from what I read the phenomenon is as old as movies themselves. Maybe bit players could be simulated (extras, people in the background, etc) but the main feature will be the stars. I don't think that Hollywood (or Bollywood) could or would get away from using real live humans. Even when the simulations get so real that you can't really tell, people will still want to watch people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by viSage ( 36933 )
      I'd like to think there is some remaining shred of reality in the actual acting job an actor does. I realize the various awards ceremonies (golden globe, oscars, etc.) are somewhat rigged to begin with, but this will shatter my illusions a little more. Was that actress really that good at acting, or was it post-production touch-up?
      • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@xoxy. n e t> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @04:29PM (#18086856) Homepage Journal
        Why does it matter?

        People seem to have this obsession over "authenticity," as if it matters apart from the quality of the output that they actually witness. I've seen it a lot in music, too, where it's even more ridiculous.

        The mantra of an old sound engineer I used to know seem appropriate: "If it sounds good, it is good."

        The 'process' is only important to other people engaged in the Art, and to yourself if you're the artist, so you know what you did right (if the output is good), or wrong (if it's crap). The audience doesn't, and shouldn't, really care. Does it matter what kind of microphone the engineer used on the kick drum, if what's on the tape sounds good? Of course not. Hell, it doesn't matter if there was a kick drum. Maybe it was just a drum machine, or a sampled sound. The only important thing is the finished composition. If it sounds good, then the process worked; if it sounds like crap, then it doesn't matter how much effort went into it, it's still crap. Likewise, it shouldn't matter whether the vocalist really hit that note, or whether they were pushed with an auto-tuner. Does the ultimate effect work? That's the real question.

        Likewise, I don't particularly care whether Jennifer Connelly's tears were real or not, because I don't care whether she can actually act or not. I only care whether it appears that she can act, insofar as she does a good job in the role, and the movie is good. If the movie is good, then the process was good; if the movie sucked, I don't care whether she was a good actress or not, I still will have wasted $9.50 and two hours of my life.

        The only reason why we ought to care, or pay any attention at all, to where the "quality" comes from, is so we can award credit and compensation correctly. When I listen to a song, I don't give a damn whether the musicians "can actually play," so long as what's coming out of my speakers sounds pleasant. It's completely academic to me whether that 'pleasantness' was produced by the musician on the guitar, or by the guy at the mastering house in postproduction. However, I'd prefer, if the actual artistry and skill that makes the music nice to listen to, occurs at the mixing board rather than at the guitar, that the guy at the mixing console get his name listed at the top of the CD's label (if only so I can see what else he did and find it easily).

        Modern entertainment-art is not a product of any one person; it's almost always collaborative. A movie is made not just by the actors, but by the actors, writers, director, editors ... everyone all the way down to the gaffers and lighting people. It's silly to try and pick out what's a product of the actor him- or herself; the important thing is the quality and enjoyability of the finished product. If it looks good, it is good. Nothing else matters.
    • by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:29PM (#18084720)
      Meh. Not surprised.

      "The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another."
    • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:30PM (#18084730) Journal
      Do I feel deceived Jennifer C.'s tears were fake? Hmmmmm.... had she "acted" them, what would have made them any more real?

      It all depends on how good the digital effects artist is. Humans have very good emotional BS detectors. That is what made really good actors rare, it takes a very skilled individual to convincingly fake emotions. Now it takes a different kind of skilled individual. I haven't seen Blood Diamond so I have no idea if the tears looked fake or not. If they looked fake, they were fake. If they didn't, they were still "fake" but that's not the point.

      My wife is an actress, and a very good one, and I can tell you she will NOT be happy about this. Fortunately, she is primarily a stage actress, so her skills can't be faked. I imagine people who could paint very realistic paintings were quite upset when cameras were invented. No one enjoys having one's skills made obsolete.

    • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:44PM (#18085024) Journal
      On the other hand, there is a certain well-known actress, somewhat getting on in years it's true, who has her own personal digital retouch artist. Any movie she is in, she hires this guy to retouch all of her scenes. He knows her face intimately, knows just what to highlight, what the diminish, what to blur, what to sharpen.

      I do visual effects for a living, I've never met anybody with any qualms whatsoever about making a shot better. It's what we do!

      Do cinematographers object to putting softening filters in front of camera lenses when shooting the female talent, because it's "not real?" No.

      My friend Lance Williams said it best when accepting his Sci-Tech award -- "It doesn't matter if it's real, it matters if it's true."

    • by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:12PM (#18085578) Homepage Journal

      Do I feel deceived Jennifer C.'s tears were fake? Hmmmmm.... had she "acted" them, what would have made them any more real?
      As far as the movie goes, sure, the finished product is all that matters. But hollywood has a tradition of honoring participants in the creation process...a little ceremony that, if you believe the PR, is watched by over a billion people world-wide. So if Jennifer C managed to garner an Oscar nomination, whether she managed to squeeze out a few tears becomes entirely relevant. If the majority of the strong performance comes in post-production, then it's the director and visual effects artists that deserve the credit, not the actors. The time may come when actors are really models for their characters that merely provide detailed scans of their bodies and voice samples and the visual effects artists create the performance using CGI. While I'm not sure that situation will ever really happen (Americans are too much in love with celebrity gossip), the question is still an interesting what point in the continuum between where we are now and a scenario when all performances are created on visual effects do we stop recognizing the talents of the actors who were only the inspiration for the character and played no part in bringing that character to life? This is almost the exact opposite of the debate over whether Andy Serkis deserved to be recognized for his acting that brought Gollum to life. The character looked nothing like him, yet the voice and movements were entirely his.

      So while none of this matters much when it comes to enjoying the finished product, it is very relevant to the faux-royalty hype machine that Hollywood uses to justify the $20m+ paydays that actors receive. And that makes it very relevant to movie-goers since those $20m paydays are a big part of why it's almost impossible to find ticket prices under $10.
  • Go rent LOOKER (Score:2, Informative)

    by SirLanse ( 625210 )
    Looker is an old movie about digitizing actors and then killing them.
    It is finally becoming technically possible.
    • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:12PM (#18084362)

      Looker is an old movie about digitizing actors and then killing them. It is finally becoming technically possible.

      Nonsense. It's been possible to kill actors for years.

    • Al Pacino -- surprisingly -- was also in a very mediocre movie like that. It was called S1m0ne [] and was about two guys creating a virtual actress who everyone thought was real. Although it had the Pacino Monologue (tm), it was overall a pretty crappy movie that I watched on the overhead monitor on an ancient 737 while stuck on a 10 hour flight. I think they killed her in the end.
  • ....that this is somehow new and at all suprising?
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:03PM (#18084164) Journal
    Watch a sporting event such as football or especially baseball. You will see the ads placed around the stadium change. I'm not talking about those "scrolling" signs, those are real, but computer generated signs that are not really at the stadium.

    Also, how do they move that yellow line so fast in football?

  • Genuine? (Score:2, Troll)

    by dedazo ( 737510 )
    Who the hell cares if Jeniffer Conelly's tears are genuine?? That's why they're called "movies". Otherwise they'd be called "documentaries".

    Or if you're Faux News, that's called "news" <zing \>

  • Hmm, does this all mean that soon actors may be mere meat sacks on which to draw/animate? I suppose it is easier to use a real person as a canvas for the visual bits and then bring in good voice actors for the rest than a completely CG character. Is SAG's days numbered? Who cares? The real question is will this manipulation result in better film making? If not, it's really all irrelevant to the movie going public.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      To be honest, this might be preferred to the overpaid, pampered meat sacks we have now. Maybe movies would become an artform again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by binarybum ( 468664 )
      does this all mean that soon actors may be mere meat sacks on which to draw/animate?

                if that's true, then Keenau Reeves will get yet more undeserved credit for pioneering this movement. What an unfair world.
  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:05PM (#18084198) Homepage Journal
    Do you know how devistated I was when I found out that Lieutenant Dan really did have both of his legs???
  • Good acting (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:05PM (#18084200) Journal
    Maybe now when Lucas re-remakes the Star Wars movies, we'll see some good acting!

    • by geobeck ( 924637 )

      Maybe now when Lucas re-remakes the Star Wars movies, we'll see some good acting!

      "Think so, I do not."

      "Hayden and Natalie, much to learn about acting have they. Ewan, passable was he. But voicing over a CG character, for them would do nothing. As for Frank, just happy am I that up my ass his hand is no longer! Meheheh!"

      Source: Yoda, the lost interview tapes.

  • by 93,000 ( 150453 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:05PM (#18084214)
    They do this in movies? Actually take different 'clips' and put them together to convey some sort of story? Bastards! I have played the fool for the last time.

    From now on I will only view movies shot in one take.
  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:06PM (#18084232) Homepage Journal
    You mean... the movies aren't real???

  • Evidence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZenSuckit ( 1063422 )
    This always makes me wonder about the courtroom. How do they prove that pictures and video are genuine?
    • Re:Evidence (Score:5, Funny)

      by 93,000 ( 150453 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:15PM (#18084400)
      This always makes me wonder about the courtroom. How do they prove that pictures and video are genuine?

      They probably use a handsome, wet behind the ears lawyer who is very talented yet still plagued with some self doubt (usually due to some type of father issue), and who makes up for his lack of experience with heart and swagger. He typically validates or disproves said pictures/video in a moving 8 minute monologue to the jury.

      At least that's what movies have taught me.
    • Like any other evidence: chain of custody, examination by experts, cross examination of the person presenting the evidence. It's a problem the legal system has been addressing since the first time a forged document came into a courtroom.
  • by Gates82 ( 706573 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:07PM (#18084266)
    It was no big deal the dinosaurs were added to several scenes in Jurassic Park, or that that a liquid metal man can walk through steel bars in terminator, but now the CGI has gotten so good at blending with live action it is no a moral problem. I don't know about you but I go to the movies (rarely) for entertainment. I expect to see the best possible image and scene. I really have no concern about how the images were created as long as the blend and I can't tell were the CG is. Now if I am watching the news or a documentary I might want to know about these changes. This seems more like the actors complaining that their performance was good enough as is. They have a makeup artist for their face why not a graphics person in post production. This is lame and BS.

    So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

  • Morals? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:07PM (#18084274)
    Anyone that has deep moral qualms over digital movie effects has absolutely no sense of perspective.
  • by Peter Trepan ( 572016 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:08PM (#18084286)

    Remember how cheesy the CGI Jabba the Hutt looked compared to the original puppet? Remember how convincingly real the original Star Wars spaceship models looked compared to more modern computer animations? Remember how the makers of Forrest Gump tried and failed to Photoshop words into the mouths of George Wallace and JFK, finally opting instead to exhume their bodies and stuff them with animatronics?

    • Personally, I like the CG stuff just fine, if not more.

      CG Jabba > Puppet Jabba
      CG Yoda > Puppet Yoda
      CG Ships > Model Ships

      I'm sure that reserves me a special place in geek hell; though I really don't care because it's true IMHO.
  • It won't be long.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Radon360 ( 951529 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:08PM (#18084296)

    So at what point do the actor's/actress' talents become obsolete? Could the break point be when it's less expensive to pay someone to clean up bad acting versus shelling out uber-bucks for a good actor? Maybe Pixar (et al) are the pioneers on what is to come, in which everything is essentially generated virtually.

    The bright side that I can see is that perhaps not having to put up with so many dumb, uneducated actors as public role models and political activists.

    • by paiute ( 550198 )
      So at what point do the actor's/actress' talents become obsolete? Could the break point be when it's less expensive to pay someone to clean up bad acting versus shelling out uber-bucks for a good actor? Maybe Pixar (et al) are the pioneers on what is to come, in which everything is essentially generated virtually.

      The thing is, good acting isn't the exclusive province of the A list. You can see some fine acting in lots of places, stage and film. My plan is to form an agency that contracts actors and actresse
    • There are already thousands of good and affordable actors out there. I think what the studios are willing to pay so much for is not acting skill, but cultural recognizability. The next step is for someone to create, popularize, and license not just CGI actors, but CGI celebrities - an idea already explored by William Gibson [].
    • Could the break point be when it's less expensive to pay someone to clean up bad acting versus shelling out uber-bucks for a good actor?

      You think Lindsay Lohan is actually the best actor the people that cast her can find? And Paris Hilton's got an acting job now because of her talent? 90% of people going to a movie are people that have a crush, sexual or otherwise, on one of the actors. The other 10% are going because they have nothing to do, but will come back to the actor in it's next movie once they g
    • Unlikely it'll change much... Hollywood chooses actors based on the popularity pull they have, not the quality of acting. Beyond a certain base level they don't care, they just want someone with a lot of fans. Since having fans usually means you're already big in the biz, is it any wonder we see the same actors over and over again? There are already plenty of great cheap actors that can't get a break. At least that's my thought.

      At the very least, this might make watching popular but not-so-great actors
  • I don't think anyone needs to worry too much about the lack of truth in movie scenes. Movies are supposed to be entertainment, and thus, most of them are fiction. We're PRESENTED with an untruth and asked to set aside what we may know or think to be true and enjoy it. As such, digitally manipulating movies to be more potent or seem more realistic (like removing breathing from a supposedly dead body) isn't really any different then watching a movie where movie special effects have made Yoda battle.

    Having s
    • > movies will lose much of their entertainment value and their emotional appeal.

      You haven't been the movies lately, have you?

      > To protect this artform, there needs to be limits and rules set about what can and can't be digitally manipulated or crafted.

      What gives you the right to dictate to creators how to create?

  • Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:10PM (#18084334)
    Yeah, that's why they're called special effects. Next comes replacing the actors with CGI and synthesized voices. In many cases it will be obvious because the quality of the acting will improve.
  • I can tolerate fake tears more than phone numbers that start with 555, comic-book format computer interfaces with security that can be cracked in a couple of keystrokes, noisy explosions in space, ...
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:14PM (#18084380) Homepage Journal
    I, too, photoshopped liquid onto Jennifer Connely's face.
  • It is all acting anyway, so what difference does it make if it is enhanced by music, sound effects, lighting effects, CGI, or Photoshop? Who cares? Do we complain when we hear those fake fight sounds? You do know that a fist hitting a face in real life doesn't make a loud "crack" sound, right? It is usually more of a dull thud. But that just doesn't go over very well on film. Hell, why not complain that the actors aren't really hitting each other!?

    Now, if it were a documentary or something where I might exp
  • Are you telling me Dave Jones was manipulated with CGI? Damn you, Gore Verbinski !!!!
  • ... film producers conspire to create illusions of reality! What's next, writers producing fictional accounts? Can it happen here?
  • not just movies (Score:3, Informative)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaa@SPAM.y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:16PM (#18084430) Journal
    even "news" photographs from are photoshopped by news outlets to present a one sided story. A good example is the Reuters photoshopped photos from the israel-lebanon war. []

    Once they got caught the photos were killed, but hundreds of doctored photos made it on the front pages of news papers around the word anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jmac1492 ( 1036880 )
      Actuallly, the Reuters photoshop thing was a BAD example. Reuters bought the picture from a photographer and sold it to newspapers. That's what Reuters does. The photographer, before selling it to Reuters, edited the picture. Reuters eventually found out about it, issued a retraction, and refused to buy any more photographs from that photographer. There was a mistake, but the system fixed it.
      If this is a widespread phenomenom, as opposed to a one shot mistake that Reuters owned up to as soon as they found
  • Is this for real? It's ENTERTAINMENT. I could care less if they replaced all actors with CGI. How does 'morality' factor into any of this??? If anything, top tier actors and actresses getting $20-$40 million for starring in a film is the immoral bit here.
  • No Post-Edit Clause (Score:5, Informative)

    by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:19PM (#18084472) Homepage
    I have more respect for an actors that insists on a "No-post editing" clause and can proudly let everyone know that is the case.

    I re-watched Castaway the other day.

    Yes, Tom Hanks wasn't on an island when he goes to the top of the hill and looks around at an endless expanse of ocean (he was in a hollywood backlot) but the expression on his face made you believe he was.
  • by GrayCalx ( 597428 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:20PM (#18084492)
    The award for Best Actress goes too... Jennifer_Connelly_Face_4 + Jennifer_Connelly_Body_3 + Emotions_Tears_Female_2.
  • .. that maybe Chewbacca wasn't a real Wookie?
  • S1m0ne? (Score:2, Informative)

    iirc they made a movie on this subject, it was called S1m0ne []
  • This is all just FUD, next you'll try to tell me that Jar Jar Binks had digitally added ears? Please.
  • by mihalis ( 28146 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:41PM (#18084948) Homepage
    With this news it appears that Hayden Christiansen might NOT have had three limbs cut off and his body burned to a crisp on a lava planet during that one-in-a-billion take for the end of Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith. I feel betrayed.
  • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#18085136) Homepage
    Take a glance at this video []. My wife and I watched this, and the other related videos, last night after I found the link on [] in a discussion of Michelle Manhar's Playboy vs real-life appearance.

    Certainly, I've known that images have been doctored in various media for a looong time. We've shown many such photo [] retouching samples [] to our 11-year-old daughter, as she's now starting to be aware of her perceived beauty.

    It's no surprise that such digital manipulation is being used on the big screen.

    While I don't have problems with such retouching, I do think that it makes it tough to consider films and photographs that have been doctored genuine art forms anymore. Certainly, much of anything that comes out of Hollywood cannot be taken at face value, but it's become even less genuine over the past 20 years. Before the 80's, if you saw a buxom, beautiful woman (or man, for you ladies out there), you could be much more certain that her hair color, bust size, and other features tied to "beauty" were more or less genuine. Sure, some makeup and soft lighting/focus made the ladies of that era slightly more attractive than they'd appear on the street, but damn, of most of them weren't drop-dead beautiful to begin with.

    These days, with hair dyes and wigs, plastic surguery, and now digital manipulation, you can take the cannonical 300-lb fugly plumber, and whip him into a G.Q. model in under an hour with Photoshop. There's a fine line (in my mind, anyway) between the art of making people look good with some makeup, lights, and *good* photography/cinematography and just simply taking any old person, filming them by any old schmuck w/ a camera and then *converting* them to an entirely new person via post-production.

    I don't know. It's hard to argue with the industry being at fault for these things, but I feel that imperfections (say, Jewel's crooked tooth) lend personality and uniqueness to a person. Erasing them from the record robs us of the *person* that's behind the image.

    Wholesale digital creations, on the other hand, are slightly different than digital effects or enhancements. The Final Fantasy movie a few years back (or that first film from the Matrix shorts collection) was digital art. The T-Rex in Jurassic Park, while cool, was a special effect.

    Another example. While I appreciate the digital eye candy of Star Wars: 1-3, I don't think they hold a candle to the *artwork* of Episodes 4-6. One example I always trot out is the asteroid flight/fight scenes in Empire vs Clones. The flight of the Millennium Falcon through the asteroids in Empire made me sway in my seat when I watched it on the big screen as a kid. The scene with Obi-Wan and Fett in Clones had nowhere near the same impact, though it may have been visually more "clean".

    Surely there must be others out there who have make the same distinction as I do, and who are bothered by a cheapening of cinema?

  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by inviolet ( 797804 ) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#18085138) Journal

    As others have already commented, movies are art. Art is the selective recreation of reality -- so it darn well ought to take advantage of new technologies that allow the director to achieve his or her exact aims. The world already has enough reality -- enough mistakes and errors and malevolence and pimples -- as it is.

    Nevertheless, this line from the summary is notable:

    The article mentions the moral qualms digital effects people have over performing these manipulations, and the steps actors are taking to protect their digital assets.


    Those who have actual moral qualms, will refrain.

    Those who think they ought to have moral qualms, will talk about having moral qualms but do it anyway.

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:19PM (#18085688) Journal

    It's getting less and less likely that what you see at the cinema is any more genuine [sic]
    Unlike the good old days when everything you saw at the cinema was true?
  • by Garwulf ( 708651 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @04:51PM (#18087200) Homepage
    I understand the controversy quite well, at least from the actors' and actresses' points of view. Oddly enough, this comes from my first professional writing sale.

    My first pro writing sale was an assignment to write a review of Myth II: Soulblighter for Computer Gaming World. I had been hired partly because of my writing talent, and partly because of my background as a Medievalist. And, just being allowed to write a feature review like that was one hell of a step for somebody who hadn't published anything more spectacular than Doctor Who fanfiction and some forum posts.

    So, I wrote a review of Myth II. Personally, I thought it felt a bit too much like an expansion pack, and I said so. I wrote a sidebar about actual Medieval combat and how it compared (this was before the Total War series). And, having edited the review two or three times, I sent it in.

    Thing was, it had to go before an editorial review board first. And, since it was work for hire, they could modify it however they liked. And they did - they turned my positive but not glowing review of the game and turned it into a glowing review. I figure somewhere between 30-50% of what I had written actually was in what was published. The writing style was modified to the point that I barely recognized it. The sidebar was shortened in such a way as to be historically inaccurate. And it had my name on it.

    To say the least, it felt fraudulent. I certainly felt embarrassed using it as part of my portfolio for other pitches - it was a coup just to get that contract, but what was published wasn't mine. To this day a large part of me wishes they had removed my name from the final product.

    So I can see why there is a controversy here. Actors are paid to act, to give a performance. When the basic performance is digitally changed (beyond, say, adding visible breath to simulate cold weather), it's no longer their performance.
  • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @07:15PM (#18089380) Homepage Journal
    Fake tears have been around since well before film: A few drops of glycerine will brim beautifully, and it has refractive qualities that real tears simply lack.

    Fake everything is used in movies all the time, and always has been. Have you seen Psycho []? In the shower scene, that's not blood -- it's not even red. It's chocolate syrup. And in the original, unadulterated Star Wars [], Luke's landspeeder is actually mounted on the arm of a centrifuge, with the camera at the pivot, so the desert in back really just goes around and around. Also, it was shot on Earth rather than a desert planet called Tatooine.

    These tricks have been around for decades. The only thing even vaguely interesting this article says is that the faking that used to be done during a scene is now done afterwards. We don't need the old tricks anymore: They can be hacked in afterwards. All you need to do is make sure your actor has a tennis ball on a green stick to stare at, and you can chroma-key in whatever alien doohickey you care to. Think your alien needs fur instead of scales? No worries, no retakes -- you just drag and drop the right texture and you're done.

    From the audiences point of view, it matters not one bit whether Ms. Connelly actually cried, or used glycerine, or had the tears added later. What matters is that we look at the screen and see sadness.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:26PM (#18091434)
    ... and the steps actors are taking to protect their digital assets.

    What that really means is that actors are taking steps to protect their real-world asses, because CGI will, at some point, make actual physical actors unnecessary to the production of a movie. There still may be a need for people that look like popular computer-generated characters, I suppose, so that someone can show up at the various award ceremonies. But those individuals won't command multi-million-dollar salaries.

    Like every other group of professionals that has been supplanted by advancing technology, don't be surprised to see them head off to Congress at some point to try and make CGI illegal for replacing live actors in feature films. These people actually have the money to buy such law, and I fully expect they will try. They have some time to spare, because the technology isn't ready for prime time, but give it ten years.

    In the long run, it won't make any difference. They're screwed.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.