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Forget CGI dinosaurs: why the best visual effects are the ones you don’t know are there

Whether you loved, hated, or shrugged at Jurassic World, we can probably at least agree on one thing: Damn, those fighting dinosaurs looked cool.

But the most impressive special effects in Jurassic World might actually be the effects nobody even noticed. See, CG effects aren't just for creating extinct animals, superheroes, or explosions that make swaggering away look extra awesome. As the RocketJump Film School confirms in the slick new video above, CG effects are now used for everything.

Mad Max

Even to fill in the backgrounds in Mad Max: Fury Road! (RocketJump)

RocketJump produced "Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn't)" to show just how pervasive CG effects are in film now — and how viewers mostly notice them when they're especially bad, something that has given computer effects a bad name. Narrator Freddie Wong details the many common uses of CG effects that viewers might not even be aware of. Car chases, planes, animals, crowds, and entire cities can be — and usually are — digitally created to avoid needlessly complicated or dangerous shots.

The video is meticulous, but fast-paced and visually impressive enough to hold the attention of even the most reluctant film student. The before/after comparisons for effects on everything from The Avengers to Mad Max: Fury Road to Game of Thrones are spectacular cases for just how good CG effects have become, for both the incredible big picture and the tiniest of details.

Game of Thrones

Check out how the computer drops in a completely virtual crowd for this Game of Thrones establishing shot. (RocketJump)

But RocketJump doesn't just want people to be more aware of the incredible work going into fictional worlds. After showing all the ways CG effects enhance even the most banal of scenes, Wong makes a case for why complaints about poor visual effects ruining a movie are misplaced. If technically lacking visual effects don't bother you in an otherwise great movie, Wong argues, you might be engrossed enough by the strong storytelling that you don't need an "easy scapegoat":

When we think about a great movie, what do we think about? We think about story, we think about character, and when the visual effects aren't perfect, we forgive it. So maybe the reason why people seem to think visual effects are ruining movies isn't really a problem with the visual effects. Maybe it's just a problem with the movies themselves.

The Avengers

The process that goes into good effects can be fascinating. (RocketJump)

Still, if you're one of those people who has nostalgia for creaky puppets and watching people react to what was clearly a tennis ball on a stick, we can't help you (and probably shouldn't tell you about the Sony's upcoming Jumanji remake, which may just have monkeys that don't look like they crawled out of a video game).

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