CGI Nudity

By Deane Barker on October 20, 2010

Jessica Alba’s CGI ‘Machete’ nude scene: Does it bother you?: Jessica Alba was filmed in her underwear for a scene in “Machete” and the underwear was removed in post-production, leaving her appearing to be nude (but not showing anything too sensitive – click through for a comparison of the before and after images).

The argument is, what does CGI nudity do for film?

[…] You have to wonder how directors will negotiate with actresses now. Is it better business to pay an actress a seven-figure bonus to go topless, or to tell her you’ll use CGI? What I find even more fascinating is an anti-nudity actress that allows herself to be shown naked with the use of CGI. […]  She and her family are okay with her appearing nude on-screen because she didn’t actually show her private parts, they were just so realistically rendered that we all assumed she did?

That point is interesting.  If you are filmed in your underwear, and in post-production, they remove it and replace it with CGI boobs that look exactly like your boobs, then…were you naked or not?

It’s like those guys that make CGI movies of child porn.  Even if the movie is 100% lifelike, is it porn, since the “actors” weren’t real?

Do you think they asked her what her boobs looked like?  And if they did, what is the appropriate response?  Do you want them to accurately replicate your boobs, or do you want them clearly different so you have some plausible deniability?  “Yes, I know you thought you saw me naked, but my boobs really look nothing like that, so I’m still chaste.”

If the boobs look like yours and they’re digitally inserted to make it appear they are yours, then, for all intents are purposes, you’re pretty much naked on-screen.

If later, someone wants to pay you a ton of money to go nude in their movie for real, are you worth less because you faked it before?  Are they going to advertise, “Jessica Alba goes nude in our film.  No, no – for real this time!

Then, if someone goes to that movie, and sees Jessica’s real boobs, is that somehow more titillating than the fake ones, even if they look the same?

In the end, I think it boils down to the source of attraction for nudity.  Is it the visual of someone’s boobs?  Probably not.  There are a lot of naked people on the Internet, and I’m willing to bet a lot of them have better-looking boobs than Jessica Alba.

In truth, I think the attraction of nudity is knowing that Jessica Alba let you into her private world by showing you her boobs.  Men are really titillated by the vulnerability and acceptance implicit in nudity, and that’s something CGI can’t replicate.



  1. That is a really interesting argument and one that I think ultimately is going to be a choice by the person doing the acting. I would think though that being digitally naked would be just about the same as being actually naked. It all looks the same on the screen.

    As far as legality goes(when you mentioned the CGI child porn) I don’t know why that would be illegal at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really disgusting, but legally, I wouldn’t think there is anything wrong.

  2. Well, as for the “CGI child porn” thing, I am sure the law will vary from here to there, but I saw an article awhile back about an Australian man who had cartoon Simpson’s porn, and was subsequently arrested for child porn because of it.

    So, if cartoon’s are illegal, I would assume CGI has to be equally illegal, if not worse because of the realism it allows…

    As for the actors themselves, I don’t think you can really hide and try to tell yourself “it’s OK, because I didn’t really do it.” Of course, this may be something new that will need to be added to actors/actresses contracts, that in addition to no on screen nudity, this also includes any post-production CGI nudity.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t think Alba is that hot.

    I think the big deal here is that it’s being passed-off as real, and placed into film. Nudity is now a special effect, brushed-on in post-production?

    She could have had rubber pasties a la the Mystque character in the X-Men films. Or the wonder no-bra. Or ex-plants. Or perhaps it would have been more titillating, or even character-fitting, if they were just black X’s made with electrical tape.

    It’s interesting because there have always been cartoon films with nudity (ex.: Heavy Metal, Beowulf 3D). But those were film-length cartoons. You knew what you were getting into. And when you saw cartoon boobies it was cool. Titillating in the comic book sense, when fantasy called for a naked siren or Amazon.

    But live-action film has an expectation of human integrity. It certainly exploits the audience, but the deeper question is does it exploit the actor? I say answer that “yes,” too.

    Whatever line Alba didn’t want to cross was effectively crossed, whether she was standing naked in front of the film crew or not.

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