Digital Realism

Written by: Nuraine Ebrahim

The narratives of films have always been manufactured to the point where it can imitate life or convince the audience that the sci-fi or animation film is real because the creators have consciously developed subconscious conditions that the spectators can subliminally relate to human life. The audience has completely surrendered themselves to the movie and they are fully engaged in the narrative, as the filmmakers have expertly made the film so that the spectator can relate to the characters and place themselves in the narrative.

Stephen Prince explains and confirms the process of filmmaking from pre-production to post-production. “Cinema… is a photographic medium orientated toward live action in which filmmakers arrange performers and events before the camera during production…to capture an accurate facsimile of what has been placed before it” (Prince, 2012, p.2).

The film WALL-E (2008) summarises the digital process of realism filmmaking in one shot.

“Editorial and rhetorical decisions must be made about what to include and what to exclude, producing a manufactured world upon the screen” (Prince, 2012, p.2). 

This single image in the motion-picture of WALL-E (2008) includes the animation of two robots, one robot holding a lit lightbulb that distinctly shows a lens flare. A lens flare can only be created while recording a live-action movie on camera. It cannot be captured in an animation, but it can be created by the software that has produced the animation.

The spectators know the animation is not real, thus the director decided on this technical technique to combine the actuality of recording humans with the animation in order to blur the lines between cinema and reality. It makes the story seem more “real” as if it was recording the emotional situations of human life.


Prince, S. (2012). Introduction: Beyond Spectacle. In: Prince, S. Digital Visual Effects in Cinema. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. p.2.


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