The Benefits and Drawbacks of Computer Generated Imagery

Action movies have become an all-time favorite for many. People love to watch these movies because of the wild actions and intensity of the actors as shown in the films. However, most of the time, these actions are not even performed by the actors. Some of them are performed by the stunt doubles while others are performed by replacing actors with the help of computer graphics. As a matter of fact, this technology is being used in several films. However, there are both positive and negative sides to this technology. 

What is Computer Generated Imagery?

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) involves using a wide range of computer graphics to mimic or imitate 2D and 3D animations, objects, or even real-life human beings. The technology is being used in the tele-media and film industry as well as the video gaming industry. Most of the time, CGI is used in science fiction films where it is out of scope for an actor to do a particular scene. It has evolved in different ways over the past few years and improved as well. Nowadays, entire locations including characters and environments are transformed with the help of computer-generated imagery. 

Primarily, CGI is based on three different models. Firstly, different types of algorithms can be used to devise fractal patterns. Mostly, these algorithms are used because they are precise and based on historical data that keeps on increasing the accuracy. Secondly, pixel-based image editors allow for creating specific 2D images with vector shapes. Lastly, a 3D-graphics software allows you to create shapes in different 3D complex forms. It can also be used to stimulate the different types of light effects. 

Can CGI Replace Actors?

The power of computer-generated imagery is quite high but the real question is whether it can fully replace and imitate real-life actors or not. The answer to this question is quite subjective as there are two opinions with this each of which has its own defending points. 

The Positive Side of CGI

Computer-generated imagery has made it quite easy to replace actors in many ways. One of the most successful films with CGI involvement is Avatar which is baked 60% on CGI while the remaining 40% is made with live-action imagery. The combination of the two has made it possible to use CGI in modern films while making them believable as well as successful in front of the audience too. 

Several different 3D scanning and photogrammetry softwares are not only making it easier but also accurate to develop various 3D models and characters. Some of these repositories are free while others are not completely open-source. Google Poly is one of the most famous ones where users have access to a library of pre-scanned 3D models of different objects including real-life human beings. As a result, the wide access to 3D objects makes it much more convenient to work with CGI to replace actors. 

One of the positive sides of CGI is that it is in a phase of constant learning and evolution. With different types of deep machine learning algorithms, neural networks, and artificial intelligence techniques, the use of CGI just keeps getting better and better. Earlier, just mimicking an actor was possible while nowadays, the technology has improved to recreate most of the facial expressions flawlessly. One of the reasons for this is because there is constant data collection which helps in improving the algorithms, neural networks, and the capability of artificial intelligence as well. 

CGI solved several problems that arise midway in the production of a film. For example, if an actor terminates the contract during the shooting of a film, there are several repercussions in terms of time and cost that are to be borne by the producers and directors. In other cases, many actors could die too, which again leads to the same problem. One of the most known examples of CGI is Paul Walker who had a starring role in the Fast and Furious Series. Due to a fatal road crash, he lost his life during the shooting of Fast and Furious Seven. As a result of this, his brother and a range of CGI techniques were used to finish the movie including him. However, by replacing the actors with CGI completely, such a problem would completely end. 

According to actor James Cameron, CGI could be the next big thing in the future. He has based this statement after Avatar became a huge success. This also implies that someday, actors might not be required for the movies. However, currently, we are far away from that era. 

One of the main benefits of CGI is that it allows for more visual flexibility and creative freedom. For example, adjusting the lighting and the entire scene is going to be way easier with a system rather than doing it in reality. Some argue that the systematic scenery would not present as much of a real picture as the actual one would. Nonetheless, the visual flexibility is a plus point that is not usually there in the case of real actors. All the settings can be adjusted accordingly. Going creative has no boundaries as there are no or limited human actors involved in the creation of CGI. Besides, out-of-the-box thinking is also made possible with the help of CGI because many avid characters such as dinosaurs could be created in real life with the help of CGI.  

For many types of tough stunts, stunt doubles are used in real life. Even then, it is quite dangerous and many accidents are seen. Most recently, the incident of Alec Baldwin is to be noted over here. Alec Baldwin shot a girl on set by mistake. If there was CGI instead of this, such an incident would never have occurred. From this incident, we can infer that the use of CGI helps in avoiding different types of disasters and also helps in avoiding going into a dangerous situation in every way. 

Some of the most successful full CGI movies include Star Wars, Jurassic Park Series, The Matrix, and Terminator 2. Many other films are already under production which will be based on CGI. 

The Negative Side of CGI

One side believes that CGI cannot replace actors. The argument they present is that CGI is incredibly expensive at the moment. The high cost of using CGI for an entire movie is sometimes higher than the cost incurred in having a real-life actor in the movie. Experts of computer-generated imagery cannot be hired on low salaries. As this is a relevantly new technology, there are fewer people out there who are having proper expertise in this which is why they charge an extraordinarily high amount for CGI. 

Similarly, computer-generated imagery is currently a new technology, and therefore, it is not that fast. The dynamic arrangement of different elements can take several days or even weeks to be fully designed. To create a believable human, several days might be required. Besides, achieving perfection with CGI is extremely difficult, although it is possible. This is because the developers need to care for precise elements, details, and other aspects to replicate a human being in a way that does not look like a computer-generated image. 

Another reason why it is believed that CGI cannot work is that multiple FX houses are working on CGI models for one movie at the same time. As a result of this, there can be a lot of confusion as well as a situation of chaos that is unavoidable later on. With these many complications, high cost, time frame requirement, and chances of errors, experts suggest that having a real-life actor is going to be way better when weighing these problems against the benefits. 

Computer-generated imagery is based on several aspects

Imitating a real-life actor with the help of computerized systems is not easy. As a matter of fact, even 95% perfection may seem less when comparing it with the 100% that can be given by a  human being. Minor errors are noticed and these lead to a drop in the ratings of the film. Cent percent perfection is near to impossible as far as CGI is concerned.

Some of the films that were made using CGI failed miserably. This includes Final Fantasy, Battle Angel Alita, Gods of Egypt, and some others as well. Some movies have not failed but had several mistakes in them with regards to CGI. These include Black Panther, Baywatch, Transformers: The Last Knight, and Sonic The Hedgehog as well. 


Computer Generated Imagery has been improving over the past few years. While there is some form of application in the film industry, a complete replacement of actors with the help of CGI is not going to be easily possible. It will take several years as well as much more improvement in the algorithms as well as other processes to make it all more accurate and authentic.