This article, found through /., talks about the increasing manipulation of actors expressions:
In the “before” shot Jennifer Connolly, the leading lady, was shown talking on her mobile phone. The digitally manipulated “after” shot showed her talking on her mobile phone with a tear rolling down her cheek. (…)
“Acting is all about honesty, but something like this makes what you see on screen a dishonest moment,” said a leading technician. “Everyone feels a bit dirty about it.”
Visual effects experts privately admit to changing actors’ expressions: opening or closing eyes; making a limp more convincing; removing breathing signs; eradicating blinking eyelids from a lingering gaze; or splicing together different takes of an unsuccessful love scene to produce one in which both parties look like they are enjoying themselves. (…)
“It’s cheaper than reshooting a scene.” (…)
Some actors such as Tom Cruise have begun to write clauses into their contracts granting them full control of their own digital assets, Mr Okun said. “They are saying: if you make me look better, then it’s fine. But if you are dealing with the subtleties of a dramatic performance it’s not fine.”
Movie editing, image manipulation, in the end it all depends on what is your goal when making a movie or a photography. My vision of the director is that he’s creating a story, and that everything that serves this story is valid.
When you go to see a movie you know there will be some sort of special effects. Actors manipulation shouldn’t be surprising, it is just one logical step. Nowadays nobody is surprised that a stuntsman is replacing the main actor. To me it’s the same degree of manipulating what people believe is reality.
If you want to see honesty, imperfection, flesh and sweat, you still have to option to go to a real theater, or better, improvisation battles.
What about photography? Great photographers manipulated their photos in their darkroom, serving their vision.
If your goal is to capture reality, then don’t make any editing and say it. On the other hand if you want to inspire a feeling that’s nearly impossible to catch, or an atmosphere that you can’t achieve, or simply make the image you have in mind, my opinion is that you can manipulate an image as much as you want. But you have to be honest about it and publish your image with a manipulation disclaimer.
Still I think an unmanipulated photo or movie has more impact. At first I thought that Sony Bravia ads were full of cg pictures, When I learned that they were shot with real balls and real paint it struck me much more!
Another example is this photo by Damien Doumax (and my parodic “copy”):
It’s a clever use of long exposition and light, and it’s unmanipulated (appart from tone and contrast manipulation). How much more do you appreciate it knowing it’s all real ?
That’s the reason why, even being a VR geek, I’ll always prefer reality
Related articles: The advent of digital actors, Prey Alone, Digital movie making : Machinima = machine + cinema