CGI vs Puppetry

“About a year ago I got to listen to a talk by a FX guy who works for one of the large houses — he’s done work on several $200m movies… He said an interesting thing about CGI. While you can do stuff with CGI you can’t do with practical FX, you basically do it to spec. If you do an animation of, say, a dinosaur foot squishing into the mud as it takes a step, and you do it CGI you get a bill for $35,000 and a file. If you decide you want something changed, like different lighting or camera angle, you get another bill for $35,000. Whereas once you’ve made the investment in the puppet, if you want to change the camera angle or lighting you just get the FX guys to reset the mechanism and 15 minutes later you’re set up for another take. Plus, of course, if there are human actors in the shot they can see what they are interacting with. Lack of interaction with their supposedly rich environment was one of the (many) things that simply didn’t work on the Star Wars prequels, for example.”

Discussion abut Stan Winston and the Alien Queen puppet from Aliens