If you’re a big fan of movies, particularly horror and sci-fi, you’ve probably taken a position on whether or not movies should use CGI (computer-generated imagery) or practical effects (which include prosthetics, animatronics, models and miniatures).
Personally, I am a HUGE fans of practical effects. That being said, I understand that there are things that you can’t do as well practically as you can do with CGI–for instance if you’ve seen Alex Proyas’ The Crow, there are numerous scenes where cars are moving through city streets that’s clearly part of a miniature cityscape which probably would have worked better with actual cars, unless Proyas deliberately wanted it to look like models–and when it’s done well, CGI can add a dynamism to scenes that isn’t always possible practically.
On the other side, when you’re dealing with practical effects the actors and actresses are performing against an actual thing, as opposed to (in some instances) a tennis ball.
This means that you’re not only likelier to get a better performance out of them, the scene that they appear in looks more real.
One of my favorite filmmakers, producer Gerry Anderson, was a huge advocate of miniature effects (which probably has a lot to do with him coming from a background of making shows that revolved around puppetry, like Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons, The Thunderbirds, and The Terrahawks) which he incorporated into live action in movies like Doppleganger (also known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun) and television shows like Space: 1999, UFO and Space Precinct.
In the video clip below Tom Woodruff, Jr and Alec Gillis, of StudioADI, discuss why it is that studios sometimes choose CGI effects over practical ones. And as usual, nothing is as simple as movie fans would like it to be.