Practical Effects vs. CGI and Video FX

5:32 PM

A struggle I have with watching a lot of films is having to cope with the fact that Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) still doesn’t look that good to me. 

By film editor, Ajay Ascano
I’m not saying that these professional effects aren’t believable, but when you copy and paste hundreds of disposable aliens (or what-have-you), the barrier of immersion can be easily shattered.

The alternate method of rendering is called ‘Practical Effects.’ 

In my opinion, the more tangible things in movies look, the more realism is granted. So, here’s a bit of a compilation of different effects in films-- you can judge whether or not they look good.

Mad Max: Fury Road


If you’re not familiar with the world of Mad Max, all you need to know is that it’s an octane-fueled thriller film with bombastic stunts and crazy driving scenes. Filmed in The Outback, the film has little-to-no green screen effects for the exterior shots.

“There were over a thousand liters of fuel (Petrol) in the explosion…”

Thor: Ragnarok

CGI/Blue screen renders

The fantasy setting of Thor: Ragnarok, of course, makes it impossible to do tons of practical effects. However, Marvel’s fantastic use of color-grading and visual enhancements allow the crazy thunder effects to not look out-of-place.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Practical Makeup

As shown in this mini-doc, a lot of the T-1000 dismemberment scenes utilize prosthetic or practical silicon molds.

Having watched Terminator 2 a few years back, I actually thought all of those scenes were CGI.

Aladdin (2019)

CGI-ing a face onto a character’s body

All I have to say about the new CGI Will Smith Genie is… this ain’t it.

However, Agrabah has a stunning render.

Spy Kids

CGI and Practical people

The Spy Kids series of films just scream “00’s graphics.” When I was younger, I really thought they looked good, though.

Mission: Impossible

Practical Stunt Work

Tom Cruise is well-known for doing a lot of his stunts. 

The Mission: Impossible series is notorious for having many of the stunts be crazy feats- such as Cruise hanging around the world’s tallest tower, holding his breath for minutes, jumping roof to roof, and jumping out of planes.

For further viewing, I recommend this video! It’s really insightful on instances where CGI might not really be necessary, specifically highlighting instances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

-- Ajay Ascano,

Practical FX look way cooler, IMO.

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