The lines between what is a live action movie and what is a computer generated 3-D movie are becoming more blurred by the year.

Before I jump into this blog post, I want to invite the reader to take a look at this video, a “before and after” compilation of scenes from  The Great Gatsby Movie released in 2013, a remake of the popular novel.

If you were going into this movie with no idea how much CGI was used to create it, would this clip surprise you? Filmmakers piece together the action they have from live actors and in post production they create fabulous mansions, exquisite gardens, glowing 1920’s city scenes that didn’t even exist. CGI effects are even placed on actors, sometimes to enhance their complexion, and make their eyes seem to sparkle. Disgruntled youtube users comment “wow, this movie is like 90% CGI” and “you sit on a throne of lies!”.

Leonardo DiCaprio stands in front of his gorgeous estate: an estate that will be completely CGI

But, The Great Gatsby  movie makers aren’t the only one doing this. Live action movies are increasingly filled with computer graphics to create scenes that production companies were never able to make until the 21st century.  Some directors say that they almost feel pressured to do so to wow audiences with large explosions, scary monsters, and the like, others see CGI as a valuable tool in their movie making.  In an interview with the Directors Guild of America, director Christopher Nolan described his thoughts on CGI.

“The thing with computer-generated imagery is that it’s an incredibly powerful tool for making better visual effects. […] There are usually two different goals in a visual effects movie. One is to fool the audience into seeing something seamless, and that’s how I try to use it. The other is to impress the audience with the amount of money spent on the spectacle of the visual effect, and that, I have no interest in.”

You can find more highlights from the interview here:

Hollywood heads may be the ones who make the movies, however what does the average movie goer think about the current state of CGI in movies? I interviewed 20 year old college student Dylan Hunt to see what she thinks when she sits under the silver screen.

“I’m sure that it’ll get so overdone that there are CGI scenes in Romantic comedies, but I hope not. I would like to see it used more strategically in movies.” Dylan Hunt said in our October 8th interview. “…[But] There have been a few movies, that combine CGI and real life in a great way. I think a lot of horror movies do it really well.”

It seem as if both the director Nolan and your typical college student have the same idea: using it strategically and for storytelling is the best way to go with CGI, over doing it for flash and pizazz makes a movie fall flat.

Sources: Interview with Dylan Hunt, conducted October 8th, 2013 in Fort Collins, Colorado.