Before the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI), which really showed its teeth in Jurassic Park
(1993) when digital dinosaurs menaced the actors, movie effects were achieved through elaborate makeup and intricate scale models. According to a recent story in Quartz
, the rise in digital technology has made things so bad for one practical effects studio that they’ve turned to fields such as medical modeling and government work. While old-school effects artists claim that models are often cheaper than CGI, they have to be paid for up front, and robotic models, unlike their CGI counterparts, can’t be updated throughout production. As a result, budget-conscious studios often opt for digital effects. Though you might think CGI would be embraced by artists seeking cutting-edge tools, some prefer low-fi effects, while others have budgets and limits on man-hours that do not match those of major movie studios. (James Cameron’s 2009 3-D film Avatar
, which reportedly required 50–100 hours of production per frame, at 24 frames per second, was budgeted at $237 million.) As such, practical effects are alive and well in the art world, where artists as varied as the Quay Brothers,
, and Julia Oldham use makeup, masks, and models to creepy, touching, and hilarious ends.