Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Why stuntmen matter


Tonight I’ll be going to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is notable not because it’s the first time in nearly twenty years that Harrison Ford will don the whip and fedora, but also because the movie is part of a move away from computer generated effects and back to real effects, and more importantly, real stuntmen. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle explains how stuntmen in movies allow a film that was made decades ago to still appear fresh, while the latest computer generated epics look out of date a year or two after they’re released.

Even though I love computer and visual effects, I’m compelled to agree. And not only are new movies using too many CGI elements in lieu of good old fashioned, clunky but lovable “real” effects, they aren’t even paying attention to the rules of yore regarding editing and composition. I recently stumbled upon “The Black Hole,” a forgettable B-grade sci-fi movie from Disney made in 1980. I was immediately struck by the fact that, despite the overall cheapness and second-string nature of the production, they went out of their way to create a decent pace and to make every shot look as cinematic as possible. And back in the old days, every movie had to at least try for that goal, because they weren’t able to fall back on the easy answers afforded today’s films with digital editing and fancy VFX tools.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

2 Responses to “ Why stuntmen matter ”

killahmullet says:

I haven’t seen the movie, nor read much about it. But this article I saw today seems to contradict the notion the new Indy is using old effects. Maybe the stunt men are standing in front of green screens, which isn’t much different than most films made today. BTW. How was the movie?

Warren Frey says:

It turned out that I couldn’t go, though I’m planning on checking it out tonight. But yeah, I’ve also read that despite Speilberg’s claims, he succumbed to the digital effects….which is kind of sad, really.

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