Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Math is Hard, Sez Barbie.
When I was newly-married, I read the book Michaelmas by Algis Budrys. This was during the post-Star Wars paradise of science fiction book releases, multiple racks of them, even in hometown discount stores. The story was about the world's Most Beloved Newsreader, who wrote the news, and who was himself a CG construct.
Think Max Headroom, only interesting.
This novel led me to prophesy that the time was coming when it would become difficult-to-impossible to tell the difference between "real" and "virtual" events. I believe that I am close to being justified in this Cassandran utterance. The sheep entrails, however, do not augur a forecast dire, rather one of mild interest; "Not with a bang, but a whimper."
Movies are over-run with CGI effects, to their detriment. Yeah, The Last Starfighter was a rum go, delightsome in its odd way, especially Centauri's channeling of Prof. Harold Hill, but the spacecraft were accomplished with sheer computational brute force. No models dangling from wires nor attached to motion-control rigs, just the numbers going in, going around and around, and coming out here! They worked, but they were too perfect, too clean. Lawrence of Arabia would have loved it there. Computer spaceships have taken the solar wind from the sails of SF TV and movies. Even the venerable Star Trek was not immune to the pixelated siren's song, for they have replaced the practical, real-world effects with CG Enterprises, Tholians, Klingons, and sundry planets. The charm is gone. Godzilla (2014)? No zipper.
Math is hard, and the endless parade of mathematically-induced droids and orcs rendered me insensate. I slept through the major battle scenes in Lord of the Rings movies AND the last batch of Star Wars flicks. Thankfully, there is a move to restore the realm of "practical effects" to its rightful place and altitude. Rick Baker is seeking to preserve his effects work history, and Gerry Anderson's son is crowdfunding a return to marionettes with real models, real explosions...everything!
Let's bring back practical, real-world effects, and forestall the Virtual Apocalypse!