CGI vs. Real Animals in Film

Real Black Wolf

The movie business is an ever-changing, always evolving art, in many ways thanks to rapidly advancing technologies that make their way into the production processes.  Are all changes for the better?  One of the trends that we’ve noticed is film studios straying from the use of real animals, and replacing them with CGI.  Of course, this topic is very near and dear to our hearts, and what we do best.  At the very least, it’s worth some critical thought and discussion.

The new Jungle Book movie is fantastic; did you notice that the animals in the film were all CGI?  Of course you did, they were talking the whole time.  The benefits of using CGI animals are fairly obvious.  It can be safer, cheaper, and easier to produce.  For some films, it makes sense to go with CGI.  It would be impossible to have a real army of apes and chimpanzees battling on set in Planet of the Apes.  The Jungle Book is set in, well, the jungle.  To have each animal be portrayed by a trained animal would be a very difficult feat, especially considering how close the main character, Mowgli needs to be with the animals.  Hard to imagine getting a child actor to ride a real giant bear floating down a river in the jungle.  So we agree that the use of CGI is a great tool for film production.

There are also advantages with using real animals in film.  When the animals are well trained, and working with a professional trainer, it’s possible to produce some stunning results on film.  When an actor can interact with a real animal, they can produce a much more real and endearing performance.  It gives the actor a chance to bond with the animals, and creates an ability to go beyond acting is some cases.  On the set of Game of Thrones, some of the actors adopted the dogs used to portray their character’s wolves on the show.  They grew to love the animals they worked with.  That bond really comes through in the finished product and is difficult to replicate with CGI.

Animal rights and safety are extremely important to us.  We would never endanger our animals or allow them to work in an unsuitable environment.  We’ve turned down work to make sure that our animals are safe and happy at all times.  When there are situations in film productions that could harm an animal, CGI is an excellent solution to that problem.  When it’s done correctly, using animals in film is a beautiful sight to behold and it produces results that can’t yet be replicated by CGI.  We think that the topic deserves discussion.  What do you think about using animals in film vs. CGI?  Let us know in the comments!

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