Photoshop is undoubtedly a great invention. Do we call programs inventions? It’s assuredly a great program. It’s a wonderful tool. Unfortunately, like many great things, those that don’t fully understand them still advocate their use. Just like “fix it in post” has lead to many disgusting CGI apparitions on the big screen “we’ll add it in photoshop” has ruined many an image.
There isn’t really a poster out there that hasn’t been at least retouched in some way – and that’s fine. That’s using the tool in a way in which it’s acceptable to use it. But, unfortunately, this tool is being misused on a grand scale. You’ve seen it – completely flawless skin or strange reflections in eyes and eyewear. Something wrong in an image that you just can’t put your finger on. I had this feeling just the other day when checking out the character posters for The Losers. There was something wrong. So I took a closer look. I won’t even talk about the glossy look of everything that screams all-too-obvious photoshop job, because hey, Zoe Saldana looks amazingly hot no matter how retouched. But a few things are bothering me here.
Basically all of these posters have a ton of shell casings flying away from the guns. This is some crazy rapidfire stuff, but I’ll let that slide – except then the poster of Aisha doesn’t make sense. Every other photo has shell casings all over the point but Aisha has definitely just fired her guns, yet no shell casings anywhere. Stick with the theme, man. I’ll just briefly mention in passing that guns don’t really shoot fireballs out of them. The muzzle flashes are crazy over the top. Anyway. In trying not to nitpick, I’ll just move on to the biggest reason why you shouldn’t over rely on photoshop. Pooch. Here he is throwing tons of shell casings around. They’re back. Let’s examine his stance. Clearly he’s right handed and holding the gun as a right handed shooter would. We can clearly see his right trigger finger safely along the frame of the gun. Strange, normally people pull the trigger with that finger. Maybe he’s using his left hand. But no. His left index finger is wrapped around the grip of the gun. All fingers are accounted for, yet he’s still firing the gun. There is the problem.
Using photoshop after the fact creates a ton of problems. You forget things. You overlook things. You end up with unrealistic amounts of flash and insane numbers of shell casings. You get a guy that either has 11 fingers or that has a magic gun that shoots on intent, not trigger pulls.
Whose hand is that?
What’s the solution? Take the damn photo. For real. Don’t fix it in post. Don’t try to photoshop it later. You want your characters shooting guns? Then put guns in their hands. It’s a lot easier than trying to insert a gun later. The Losers isn’t the only guilty film, not by a long shot. The pictured poster here, of The Brave One, still sticks out in my mind. Photoshop can’t force a perspective like a real photo can. Instead you get this strange fist out of nowhere, gigantic, the size of her face, clutching a gun and aiming it off at some awkward angle. It hasn’t even been all that cleanly defined. But somehow, someone is okay with this. Instead of getting Jodie Foster to take 10 seconds out of her day to point a gun at a still camera and get a good photo, we get this.
You’ve seen this. You know it’s wrong. You’ve seen a cast of characters all standing in a big group shot, yet their feet are all on different planes. They’ve all had their photos taken at different times and then pasted all together. Put a clause in their contract that they have to show up, all together, at the same time, for the photo. It’s simple.
You know the deal. I’m tired of this. I get upset by it. A lack of knowledge, a lack of time, a lack of care. Respect the art a little bit more and keep the photoshop nearby as a tool to enhance a photograph, not create one. You might as well just render the poster in CGI, at least then you’ll keep track of all the fingers. I’ve seen a lot of posters and every photoshop job, complete with mistakes and missing, or extraneous digits, sends me past my boiling point.
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