Down the digital slope

Increasingly, movies are made with computer generated imagery (CGI). Robert Downey Jr. spends his studio life in front of a green-screen doing snappy one-liners while all the special effects are added later to Avengers and the like. Dialogue no longer matters; impossible action is all. As Hollywood’s best-paid actor he makes $US80 million a year. Next we’ll be watching Jimmy Stewart in the sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life made from a pastiche of his previous films using soupçons of CGI.

Music, once difficult to reproduce on stage because of studio tinkering, has gone fully robotic. No longer is it just Auto-Tune software correcting the off-key Michael Bublé. The latest Justin Bieber song, Where Are Ü Now?, takes the whole process to ridiculous heights. The song is a collaboration with two men who have only two names between them, Diplo and Skrillex. Some phrases by Bieber have been transformed into a language only a dolphin can understand. It went platinum in five months. So happy is Bieber with his comeback that he cried last night after singing a medley on the MTV VMAs.

Artists have also joined the digital revolution. Some fine arts students go for entire semesters without doing any actual drawing or painting. Their full output is created on a computer and looks for all the world like sculpture or wall art except it can only be viewed on iPads or as screensavers. Art supply stores wonder what happened to their former customers.

Computers long ago beat chess masters and won at Jeopardy. Next to come under the digital revolution will be writing. Stephen King will be able to increase his output from four books a year to four a week. Plots will be organized, verbs and adjectives selected, and characters created – all by software. Beta versions already exist. I did this blog post using WriteStuff. How do you like I so far?

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