Why Thor: Love & Thunder’s CGI Looks So Bad

July 18, 2022 0 Comments

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thor: Love & Thunder.,Thor: Love & Thunder‘s CGI was badly impacted by an overdependence on Disney’s new technology, the Volume. Many MCU movies have come in for criticism over their visual effects. It’s not that the people working on them aren’t skilled and capable; instead, the issues usually reflect the fast turn-around Marvel Studios expect from VFX houses. Black Panther‘s final Killmonger fight – one of the most heavily criticized sequences in the MCU to date – has been partly blamed on a demanding turnaround.,Thor: Love & Thunder is proving to be another example, although this time, the problems are rather more widespread. Surprisingly, even writer-director Taika Waititi has admitted the issues, openly mocking scenes in his own film. Waititi’s public criticism has drawn a mixed response from audiences, with some agreeing with his sentiment while others are angered that VFX workers – often known to have been treated badly by film studios – should be treated with more respect.,Related: Taika Waititi’s Love & Thunder CGI Jokes Make Disney Issues Even Worse,But Taika Waititi’s comments, controversial though they may be, have indeed served to put a spotlight on Thor: Love & Thunder‘s visual effects. Something clearly went wrong in Thor: Love & Thunder – but, curiously, it’s less to do with the visual effects department than with creative decisions made by Marvel Studios. The problem lies with the Volume.,Thor: Love & Thunder uses the Volume, new technology created for The Mandalorian that’s becoming increasingly mainstream in Disney productions. Developed by ILM, the Volume is essentially a replacement for greenscreen. Actors perform in front of a massive, curved LED screen showing photorealistic backdrops. For a studio, this has the benefit of reducing the need for location filming and potentially reduces costs simply because CG animators don’t tend to be unionized, unlike more traditional set design roles. It’s also been praised by actors for improving their performances because they don’t just have to imagine an environment; instead, they can genuinely look behind them and react to the images. Chris Hemsworth has particularly noted that he loved filming the scenes set in Omnipotence City, the realm of the gods, because he was able to enjoy the design.,In theory, the Volume should mean every film or TV show displays the same quality as The Mandalorian. Unfortunately, because it’s a new technology, directors and cinematographers must adapt to it. The Volume encourages the creation of scenes in which people stand in a smaller area with a lavish background behind them, one they never interact with in the slightest. What’s more, with attention drawn to that background, there seems to be less of a focus on traditional lighting techniques – meaning things slip, and the quality differences become visible. The problem with Thor: Love & Thunder‘s visual effects, then, does not lie entirely with the CGI; rather, responsibility rests upon the entire production team (including the director), who are getting used to new technology.,Matters were certainly worsened by the pandemic here. Marvel established a tightly-knit bubble community to produce the film. That’s why the stars’ children appear in the movie; their appearances weren’t just cool Thor: Love & Thunder Easter eggs, but instead were a way of limiting the number of families inside the bubble. This may well have led to an over-dependence on the Volume, a substitute for location filming at a time when traveling was challenging, and the Volume presented a sure-fire way of displaying vast crowds without actually bringing people together. It’s possible some of Thor: Love & Thunder‘s issues could have been resolved if a smaller proportion of the movie had been shot with the Volume.,Related: Thor Love & Thunder Sets Up 10 MCU Characters,The CGI problems in Thor: Love & Thunder may be particularly evident, but they are indicative of wider issues. The modern VFX industry is only really about 20 years old, and workers are not unionized, meaning there’s no collective bargaining to improve working conditions. Studios have tended to take advantage of this, and sadly Marvel has a particularly poor reputation in this regard. One former Marvel VFX artist recently took to social media to reveal they were the reason he quit the industry. “They’re a horrible client,” he observed, “and I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked, while Marvel tightens the purse strings.“,Given this context, it is perhaps troubling that press releases praising the Volume have consistently celebrated the idea of using it to speed up a film’s production – likely by virtue of placing even more pressure upon VFX artists simply because they need to get their first backdrops ready ahead of filming rather than working on them afterward. Worse still, they’d likely then be expecting to find ways to fix the cinematography and lighting afterward, resulting in even more demands. All this took place at a time when, post-pandemic, VFX houses were facing massive backlogs and had limited resources. Given this, Thor: Love & Thunder‘s poor CGI becomes very much understandable.,Want more Thor: Love & Thunder articles? 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