Some people say they can tell the difference between real and CGI birds and some say they can't. Can you tell which of these pictures of birds is real and which is CGI?
Which one is real? Exhibit A, or Exhibit B?
I asked my two roommates to see what they thought. One of my roommates guessed that the second picture was the real one and my other roommate said that he thought it was a trick question and that both pictures were real.
You might be as surprised as my roommates to find out that it was in fact a trick question, but the trick was that they were both CGI!
CGI birds are very convincing in Hollywood these days, but filmmakers have a history of staying away from CGI, especially CGI birds. One of the most famous examples of movies that used non-CGI birds was Hitchcock's The Birds (1963)
Hitchcock didn't know what he was getting into when he wrote the script for this movie, but with the help of his animal-trainer/friend Ray Berwick, he was able to pull it off. Hitchcock had planned to use machines in place of birds for shots but quickly realized that if he wanted his movie to look realistic he would need to use real birds.
One tactic he used to train his cast was to put them in giant cages the week leading up to filming and literally throw birds at them to get them used to it, meanwhile training the birds to do certain moves to get ready for filming.
Nowadays, we have the ability to use real birds but often use CGI because it looks so good and it's so hard to train a bird. Animated movies have still decided to abstain from using real life, practical birds in their movies. It makes sense from an aesthetic point of view but I can't help but imagine how much money they could save by using real birds at least some of the time.