Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Bleg: CGI Sex

The news that Natalie Portman’s ballet performance in Black Swan was a product of computerized special effects got me thinking about the STARZ series Spartacus:  Blood and Sand.

Now on the one hand, Spartacus is performed by mainstream (if largely B-listed) actors and actresses.  So for that reason I’m pretty sure that I’m not watching, you know, actual pornography. 

But that only raises the question:  during the scenes (and there is usually one per episode) in which one of the male characters is shown with one of the female characters grinding their pelvises, no stitch of clothing to be seen anywhere . . . then I can’t help but wonder how the line between acting and reality doesn’t get, you know, blurry in that situation.  (Warning:  Link NSFW)

So here’s my question to whichever of my readers has insider knowledge on this subject:  how are these scenes actually done so as to protect the, I dunno, professionalism of the participants?  Are we looking at high-quality animation?  Are the actors and actresses actually wearing Teflon clothing that is then digitally replaced by skin tones?  Or maybe they’re all just inhumanly, um, disciplined mentally?

But I’m beginning to wonder about how much of even plain ol’ TV nudity is real.  Take for instance the HBO series Rome.  The show almost had me convinced that this was actually what actress Polly Walker looks like.  But Lindsay Duncan?  The actress was 55 at the time of filming, ye t she is shown with an impossibly gravity-defying figure.  That’s got to be CGI again, right?


Anonymous said...

Actors and actresses have long crossed into prostitution for the sake of their "art". They tell themselves it is professionalism and for the sake of the role. Depending on how far the producer wants it to go, it is either camera angles and suggestion or it is real live porn. There are also body doubles and skin colored suits.

But even in the Non-porn films, there is no way I could explain to my wife if she caught me doing that that it was just "acting".

Anonymous said...

I cannot *wait* until you stop blogging about TV and movies.

Dr. Φ said...

Hale: well, the last "mainstream" movie about which it was alleged (though never confirmed) that the cast crossed the line was Wild Orchid. And I remember that Halle Berry was advertised as doing her own scenes in Monster's Ball. But some of the cable stuff goes way beyond any of that.

Samson: You don't like my movie reviews? But think of how much time I save you from watching that crap.

I'm all about my readers . . . .

Anonymous said...

There were allegations Sienna Miller and Hayden Christensen crossed the line in Factory Girl.

Anonymous said...

Money shots in porno movies are usually accomplished by means of Ivory Snow dish washing liquid delivered via a thin tube taped to the off-camera side of the actor's schwantzstucker. An alternative version, used when the script calls for oral ingestion, is produced by taking the water left over from cooking pasta, and thickening it with corn starch.


Dr. Φ said...

Trumwill: I saw that movie. Weirdly, I can't even remember any sex scenes, let alone any that looked like they were over the line.

Peter: Thanks . . . but the post isn't about porno, it's about sex scenes in mainstream movies. Which usually don't involve "money shots" as you describe them.

Brandon Berg said...

From the wikipedia article on softcore pornography:

"In most cases the sexual acts depicted in softcore pornography are entirely simulated by the actors and actress; no actual penetration occurs. Often the actors wear latex genital covers to prevent physical contact. Film directors go to great lengths to obscure such covers on screen, but often fail to completely hide them."

There's a joke in there about a condom being a "latex genital cover", but that's probably not what it actually means.

Pure speculation, but I would also guess that the male actor probably does a bit of prep work just prior to filming the scene to reduce the chance of any problems popping up.

As a general rule of thumb, if you can't see it, it's not happening. I assume the nudity is all real, though. Otherwise, why would some actors refuse to do it?

Dr. Φ said...

Brandon: last I checked, latex is what they use to make surgical gloves thin and flexible so as to not interfere with a doctor's ability to feel what his hands are doing. So while I get that these scenes don't involve actual penetration, latex doesn't seem to offer sufficient protection against "problems popping up" as you so decorously put it. Nor would the "prep work", depending on the actor's recycle time, etc.

It's a little unsettling to think that mainstream performers are doing this.

As for the nudity, some of it is real, but some of it is just freakin' incredible.

Dr. Φ said...

As I've remarked before, the actresses as they appear in the brief nude scenes of 30 years ago are nowhere near as (what's the word) "built" as they appear to be today. Now it could be that we're breeding cuter actresses now than then, or that Hollywood is selecting more for cuteness today relative to other qualities than it did then.

But it seems the even bigger change is the availability and capability of CGI technology. When you see the work in Black Swan, for instance, or LOTR, or Star Wars 1-3, it doesn't seem far fetched that CGI animators can simply render human bodies more perfectly than genetics or selection.

Come to think of it, wasn't that the theme of the movie Looker in 1981, that advertising companies were "stealing" the images of beautiful models for purposes of animation (and then murdering them to cover it up, or something)?

Anonymous said...

My Husband and I have discussed/wondered about how the performers don't "feel" anything when filming love/sex scenes. Hubby works at a television station that produces a few shows (local news, after school homework show, that kind of stuff) and speculates that the images are edited to be more erotic in post production. Meaning that at the actual filming there is a director yelling instructions, a make up/hair stylist running up to style actors at every pause and camera cut, lighting is being adjusted bit of desensitization, etc. Also there are a bunch of camera men and such standing around. Not so tantalizing now, is it?

I speculate that after a few years of kissing and grinding on random people the actors (both male and female) get desensitized like sex workers do and imitating sex is as boring as any other part of a repetitive job.

As far as those gravity defying bodies - I suspect a combination of cosmetic surgery, opaque makeup, and as you mention CGI.