Old-Fashioned Filmmaking Techniques and the New

The marriage between the old technology and the new could create a sort of balance that is visually, aesthetically pleasing. One film that delivers this immaculately is Blade Runner 2049, where real models are used for exterior shots, as well as actual holograms in other scenes (Liszewski, 2017), while CGI is employed in some action sequences. An overreliance on either the new or the old could limit any film, in terms of craftsmanship and artistic integrity, which seems to be the case for most blockbuster films. During an interview, Star Wars creator George Lucas says, “One of the fatal mistakes that almost every (science-fiction) film makes is that they spend so much time on the settings…creating the environment” (Lucas, 1983). He goes on to say that these sorts of films and their filmmakers show off the amount of work they created. He continues, “Special effects are just tools, means of telling a story.”

Unless the favorability for the old and new are utilized well and does not overstep itself, or unless the limits themselves play into either the world of the story or the overall theme, sometimes the overreliance could be justified. The world of the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One is CGI-heavy, but it makes sense for that film because it mostly takes place in a video-game realm, where loads of computer-generated characters perform astonishing action-packed feats. Meanwhile, there are other filmmakers that tie old-fashioned techniques into their stories’ themes. One example of that is the 2015 action-comedy Kung Fury. During production of this film, video-game studio Old Skull Games helped director David Sandberg animate an entire sequence in the style of Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s (Laser Unicorns, 2015), like G.I. Joe and Voltron, since Kung Fury is an homage to action movies in that era (Kristobak, 2013).

If I ever get the chance of making a highly budgeted feature-length film entirely in my vision, I would follow Blade Runner 2049’s case and employ both old-fashioned techniques and the new wherever necessary. This is not only to make my film’s world more immersive, but to tie into the its themes. If this hypothetical film was of the science-fiction fantasy genre, I would use film stock and digital as they intone different feelings to separate the film’s real world and a character’s dream sequences. I would also use model buildings for establishing shots and CGI is fix certain patches here and there that are difficult to fix practically, which is a process made by plenty of films, most notably Titanic (Ebert, 1997) and Jurassic Park (Business Insider, 2014).


(Giles Lorax). (2012, January 2). Young George Lucas’s ideas on special effects “Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga” 1983. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykmZp5cgbkU

(LaserUnicorn). (2015, September 23). Animating Kung Fury by Old Skull Games. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etvUf9IYDcI

Acuna, K. (2014, July 11). How 4 Minutes Of CGI Dinosaurs In ‘Jurassic Park’ Took A Year To Make. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-cgi-works-in-jurassic-park-2014-7

Ebert, R. (1997, December 7). Special effects live up to hype in ‘Titanic’. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/special-effects-live-up-to-hype-in-titanic

Kristobak, R. (2014, January 25). ‘Kung Fury’ Trailer Pits Dinosaurs And Thor Against Nazi Germany. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/29/kung-fury-trailer_n_4516119.html

Liszewski, A. (2017, November 13). Blade Runner 2049 Used Amazingly Detailed Miniature Sets to Bring Its Cities to Life. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://io9.gizmodo.com/blade-runner-2049-used-amazingly-detailed-miniature-set-1820401271



3 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Filmmaking Techniques and the New”

  1. I think it’s interesting that you brought up your own ideas on how you would make your own feature film.

    I don’t think there is any right or wrong option specifically, as long as the filmmaker knows what he or she is doing. In your case, for your idea, you gave an actual reason why. I think it makes sense that whether the techniques and technology used is old or new, what matters is what it can do, and for what purpose is it used, rather than the fact that it is old or new.

    You mentioned George Lucas earlier, which is interesting considering his track record with Star Wars – both of his trilogies (original and prequel) have a lot of special effects that were ahead of their time, and I think that it can be said, ESPECIALLY for the original trilogy in my own opinion, that it helped in making the Star Wars galaxy a believable place and in properly telling their story, which is exactly what Lucas said in the quote you brought up – quite ironically, since setting shouldn’t be the focus according to him, though there IS a lot of details in the various settings. There are some interesting videos and articles out there explaining the various technologies used for making those films, so if possible you could check them out!


  2. I think that CGI can be a good thing and in your examples, these films have really benefited from it. Without it, the film would be completely different, however, I think that nowadays the films that we see today sometimes have a challenge. They end up creating a really good visual stunning film but then miss the main aspect of creating a film which is the plot/story. However, sometimes it can be the other way around where the plot might be great but the CGI used was dreadful making the movie ultimately unwatchable.


  3. I loved reading this piece, and George Lucas is right, the developing technology is something nice to show off in a film but also the story and the cast build the movie as well. In STAR WARS they did focus on the setting but also they kept the cast and the story all balanced on one ground. I watched Valerian and for me the cast wasn’t trying very hard to impress anybody and the story was as typical as it can get, the mistake that was made was by focusing way too much on the CGI while neglecting the original concern and story.

    And for Ready Player One, i kind of felt it was an animated movie but with a very realistic and high animation but it did balance the real world and the OASIS very well, keeping everything balanced as mentioned earlier.

    And that’s exactly my thought as well if i ever get the chance to work on a film, i’ll always mix between traditional and modern.


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