Au unnaturale: why CGI nudity is here to stay →

August 06, 2015 |

Nice piece by Lux Alptraum for The Verge. Lately, more and more Hollywood actors and actresses are turning to CGI to simulate nudity in movies and TV shows, most notably, Lena Headey in the last season of Game of Thrones. Alptraum’s piece offers insight into why this is becoming a trend, and it goes beyond mere economic aspects:

But even as prices of digital effects drop, they’re still more costly than just shooting a performer nude. So why are we seeing such a dramatic uptick in altered nudity? In the years since Machete, numerous theories have been floated. Some have suggested it’s a way to get around nudity banning clauses in performers’ contracts, while others have seen it as a way for performers to have their cake and eat it too, receiving kudos for risks they didn’t actually undertake.

According to one CGI editor, who requested anonymity, the truth of the matter is far simpler: directors offer the CGI option to make performers as comfortable as possible, and, in turn, to create the best scene possible. A performer who feels awkward stripping down in front of not just co-stars and a director, but a crew full of shooters, PAs, film assistants, and anyone else who might be present on set that day, is unlikely to turn in a stellar performance. Far better to shoot them in a more comfortable set up, and digitally add in the more risqué aspects of the scene after.

I wouldn’t have thought of it that way, but it makes total sense. It’s also not that different from using body doubles, a technique that has been around for ages.