Why are there fake birds in film?

Why are there fake birds in film?
We don’t see the walking dead in this shot 
from "The Walking Dead," but we do see 
a flock of animated birds.

In The Atlantic, Brian Thill wrote a short essay on the meaning of artificial birds in film:

Do you ever wonder about those flocks of computer-generated birds flitting across the screens of so many of your favorite shows and films? I do. I’ll be watching your average contemporary Hollywood film or TV show, but when I’m supposed to be gazing at the planet-destroying starship, giant robot, mythical behemoth, or fantastical cityscape, my attention always gets pulled elsewhere, focusing instead on much smaller things within the frame — usually, those confounded digital birds flying around.

And they are everywhere, once you start noticing them: initially invisible, tucked into the branches of trees or snuggled under a derelict underpass. We didn’t even know they were there; and then they burst into flight, flap and turn and are gone in a skittering black rush of wings. They cut across the barren Atlanta highways of TV’s The Walking Dead. They soar from the middle heights of Peter Jackson’s Isengard. In Man of Steel, some vast and sublime Kryptonian space-thing crashes into the Kansas fields, and there they are yet again, reliably fanning out from the crash site like the spray from an impact crater, a dark flurry of black birds erupting from the fields and flying swiftly away from danger and out of frame. In the midst of all the ornate action on screen, they’re perhaps the least consequential objects in the frame. And yet I find myself seeing and thinking about them constantly. Like the overstuffed grocery bag and the unlocked door, fake birds are so common, and yet so inconsequential in modern Hollywood film. What are these things? What are they doing there?

The short answer: they’re an easy way to show us "Nature" amidst the majestic scale of the incredible computer-animated scenes we’re seeing. But there are other reasons, too.

Read the rest: Fake Birds on Film, The Atlantic>>

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