RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (Full Version)

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Dpp1978 -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (5/4/2012 4:27:19 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: clownfoot

Doesn't Jurassic Park benefit in some way that the audience has never seen a dinosaur in the flesh, so we're able to suspend our disbelief that these are photo-real creatures on screen because we have little to objectively measure them against? Even when other animals have been watched to give an idea of how to animate them, the texture of the creatures is overlooked by the viewer because of the 'wow, it's a dinosaur factor'. I'd content that the Burly Brawl in the Matrix Reloaded is a better use of CGI, but that has been flagged with criticism because it was not totally photo-real - something the viewer can never get away from objectively as we view the human face and form everyday so know what to expect. It means the transition from real Neo to CGI Neo is sometimes a little obvious (at other times you can't really tell which is impressive). Until I watched Tintin the other night (and I've actually no idea of how the visuals were captured in Tintin - I presume it's a combination of CGI for the faces with actual body movement) I don't think any film has done a better job of capturing the human face in such a marvellous way. The Burly Brawl remains a pretty amazing spectacle, though, if you can get past the issue of the photo-realism not being quite there in 2002. There were some shots involved that you would never get from a conventional special effect.


I think it is widely accepted that people are incredibly hard to recreate as they the one thing we are most attuned to recognise. When something is off, even by a tiny margin, we automatically read it as being wrong and our brain rejects it.

The Matrix films have always been a strange mix of flawlessly executed shots and really rather bad ones.

I think the Burly Brawl was one of those sequences where the technology just wasn't mature enough to cope with the concept. I'm not convinced even today it could be perfectly achieved.

Tintin's characters faces are exaggerated to the point of caricature. We are far more willing to accept something which misses reality by a great margin than something which misses it by a tiny amount. When you try to get too close you have to deal with the "uncanny valley" situation where things just look creepy. The Polar Express for example.

quote:

Saying that, I still love the shot in Jedi viewed from the Falcon's cockpit where the mass of Tie-Fighters swarm over the rebel fleet at the start of the Death Star attack. Not even the space shots in the largely CGI-impressive Starship Troopers can top that. (Although Rico riding the beetle is proper shit. Like Legolas riding that massive creature in Return of the King is also proper shit).


I love that shot (pop up Tie Fighters and all). It is one of the high points of optical compositing.






Dpp1978 -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (5/4/2012 4:34:45 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

[image]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-LkQVO9O-eJ4/TWsgNWOGvfI/AAAAAAAAEHU/snRizw_UWso/Black+N13.jpg[/image]

[image]http://www.cinelogue.com/images/1357.png[/image]

[image]http://acertaincinema.com/workspace/media/edward-robinson-x2-whole-towns-talking.jpg[/image]


Great choices all.

I'll add this shot to the list.

[image]http://i.imgur.com/bwqoQ.jpg[/image]




Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (5/4/2012 5:06:34 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

Good CGI is indistinguishable from a practical effect, or even dare I say it, real life.

There are, I can almost guarantee you, shots in films where you have not realised you are looking at a CG effect.

The set extensions in Zodiac are an oft cited example of the near seamless blending of real life and digital wizardry.


Not quite along the same lines, well maybe a bit, but this is one of the reason's why I love Davy Jones in the Pirates films. The only reason I know he's CGI is because I know he doesn't exist in real life.




Hood_Man -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (5/4/2012 11:31:23 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gimli The Dwarf


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

Good CGI is indistinguishable from a practical effect, or even dare I say it, real life.

There are, I can almost guarantee you, shots in films where you have not realised you are looking at a CG effect.

The set extensions in Zodiac are an oft cited example of the near seamless blending of real life and digital wizardry.


Not quite along the same lines, well maybe a bit, but this is one of the reason's why I love Davy Jones in the Pirates films. The only reason I know he's CGI is because I know he doesn't exist in real life.

Same here, and even then I was convinced some of him was Bill Nighy in a costume and make up. I still can't get over the eyes being CGI as well.




King of Kafiristan -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (7/4/2012 7:29:36 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Hood_Man

Kalrisian you are a LEGEND! Yes, Dante's Peak, some absolutely incredible work in there! I was watching 2012 earlier and the moment when the earth blows up and you see the ash clouds and fireballs going up in the air immediately made me think of Peak, and Peak definitely comes out on top. Absolutely stunning!

I've seen some behind the scenes footage from The Matrix, and the scene where Neo wakes up in that gooey slime filled bathtub and finds himself full of plug sockets, I'm sure the shots of him grimacing in pain are puppet work.

Even though I've seen the puppet in action behind the scenes, I still can't see those "seams" that give these shots away once you've seen how they're done.



Thanks! [:)] DP definitely is a better movie than 2012, but 2012 has some very detailed and impressively imaginative CGI, IMHO. Some of the shots in that film definitely surpass what can be achieved with practical effect (at least in terms of the action they're depicting, tsunamis cresting the Himalayas, ETC).

Then again, some of the best shots in the movie are achieved through a blend of practical and CG, such as the aircraft carrier crashing into the White House.

PS I agree, the MATRIX has some stunning work! (the baby in the pod is also a robotic creation)

--------------------------------------------


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

Phil Tippett is a gifted animator. It was his meticulous attention to detail, in both preparation and execution, that created such good results. A good animator will use every reference they can find to create a believable performance, that is irrespective of whether they are using hand drawn frames, physical models or indeed CG.

As with any film-making technique it is the artist and how much time and money they have to work with that is important, not the tools they use.


I'd agree that for most things, if you spend enough time and take enough care, a CG effect can be nearly as difficult to distinguish from real life.



quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

The biggest problem with the puppet, and any large animatronic for that matter is how it moves. It has to use motors and hydraulics which by their nature have a very mechanical way of moving; especially when they change direction. It tends to either be too smooth and precise or too jerky. .


Except the way the ROBOT REX is used in JP has very few of those problems. You're not asking it to take a stroll around the set. You're asking it to roar and turn it's head, which it was actually able to do with remarkable dexterity and speed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4J9TBlFxAg

In the shots where it's used to good effect in JP, I have absolutely never seen a CGI monster appear as real and lifelike as the robot does.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

They are expensive to build and difficult to operate, not to mention potentially incredibly dangerous. These days the only equity in having something like the big T-Rex on set would be for the actors' benefit. If you are going to comp in a CG body you might as well comp in the whole thing. It'd probably be less work for the animator too..


Sure, they're expensive, yet when you factor in the money it takes to pull off a CGI effect with anything approaching the level of photo realism present in the robot, not to mention the trouble of finding people skilled enough to pull that off with CG, the puppet can very much end up being the cheaper option. That's why medium budget films like HELLBOY opt for so many puppet based creatures rather than CG everything. Because you can get an effect that holds up better for the camera with the robot than you can with CG unless you're pouring James Cameron money into everything.

The blending of CGI and practical continues to be a successful technique. Benjamin Button stuck a digital Brad Pitt head on a real old person's body. They felt it was the best way to achieve the effect rather than creating a fully digital character. In JP, having a robot physically crash down through the sunroof, pounding the plexiglass down onto the stunt double children, is scary and startling in a way that a fully CGI creature could never manage. Watching the JEEP ATTACK, your eyes can instantly tell that, whoa, something with mass and size truly just pounded it's way through the roof of that car. Also, don't discount the value of having something on set for actors to react to. It makes the whole, you know, acting thing, much easier than trying to emote "I'm fearing for my life" when all you have in front of you is a ping pong ball on a stick.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

As to all CG all the time, practical effects and miniatures are still incredibly useful tools. Even the Star Wars prequels (the poster children for "CG overload") used a massive amount of miniatures: each individual prequel had more model work than the original trilogy combined. ILM and Weta still use practical effects for shots where it would be easier and cheaper than CG. It is just their capture and compositing tools are digital rather than analogue..


Exactly! This is the way it should be. Taking the best of practical and bringing it to the next level with the Technologies of Tomorrow!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978
It comes down to what is the best way to do something. It is still far easier, and far more effective to build a practical miniature and blow it up than to render an explosion in CG. The fact is most of us can't tell whether we are looking at a model, CG or a combination of the two when looking at an effects shot, which is exactly how it is supposed to be. Sometimes we don't even notice we are looking at an effects shot.

Just because we assume everything is CG these days doesn't make it true.

Another example of flawless old school effects work.

Click me.


I actually can tell when I'm watching a practical explosion because it's most always vastly superior to a fully CGI explosion. The uncertainty involved in explosive physics means that when you set off real charges inside an actual model building, it's going to blow up in ways an artist or simulation could never have imagined. Shots like the Crysler Building in GODZILA '98 blowing up just have an oomph that wouldn't be there with a fully CGI building take down.

Many effects sequences ARE fully CGI though, even when it would have been the easiest thing in the world to shoot some plates or include a few practical elements into a given shot. That's what really bothers me.

Anyway, you're right there are different tools for different jobs, I just hate seeing CGI used when there are better tools available for certain effects.


quote:

ORIGINAL: vader100

Because he used CGI to such good effect in Indy 4 didn't he? The shark works perfectly. What do people want from it, facial expressions?

The works on the LOTR with the "bigatures" and perspective filming were far better than any of the CGI effects, Gollum excepted.




It just would be neat to see it's lips pull back from it's teeth, flexing it's jaw, ETC. (though for the record I'm not exactly endorsing that anyone go back and change the movie, and if they did, they'd need to ensure the original version was available as well ::ahem, Lucas:: )

PS: I agree about the bigatures!


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan


Agreed. Amazing bit of work.

I think the only thing that matters is whether the effect is convincing or not, regardless of it's source. Taking Jurassic Park as the OP's example, the animatronic Rex works great, the animatronic Brachiosaur not so much. The CGI Rex/Velociraptor bit at the end still looks great, the bit with the raptors in the kitchen not so much. It's not an either/or thing for me, though like Del Toro and Ridley I prefer to see practical effects used as much as possible as I personally think it's more convincing (both to look at and in the way actors interact with them).



You're right, practical isn't always the best way to go, and that's why in the age of CGI you could have the robot rex (which looks great in the rain) but use CGI for the veggiesaurs which needed more expressive faces.

PS I actually really like the raptors in the kitchen, or the one Grant tussles with when they're trying to lock the doors. They're pebbled skin looks great under the lights indoors. Outside not so much.


quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

I am a long-time critic of CGI. Going back to some of Dpp's (as ever) eloquent and well thought out posts, I have to disagree on the basis that, to me, even GOOD CGI still looks like CGI and dates very badly very quickly, compared to GOOD practical effects which still look good today (I'm thinking The Thing as a good example).

Generally with CGI there's no weight or substance to anything - it just looks like a computer game - and CG gore is particularly poor, even when it is done "well".


I agree about CGI becoming dated quickly, where as something created practically that successfully manages to look real most likely won't look less real no matter how much time passes.

There definitely are some CGI creations I'm a big fan of though (which I'm either going to get into later in this very thread, or perhaps in another thread), that either look as close to photo real as is possible today, or at least pull off effects that could not be achieved convincingly through any other means.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

Good CGI is indistinguishable from a practical effect, or even dare I say it, real life.

There are, I can almost guarantee you, shots in films where you have not realised you are looking at a CG effect.

The set extensions in Zodiac are an oft cited example of the near seamless blending of real life and digital wizardry.

See here.

Some of the stuff ILM created for Rango could easily be mistaken for real footage (shots without CG critters obviously).


For many CGI effects this can be true, though not for everything. Sometimes there is an element of unpredictability (with water, or explosives ETC) that cannot (yet) be successfully replicated in a computer. Also, a 100% perfect computer effect can at times end up looking too perfect, a case of the animators and artists gilding the lily. It doesn't look real because every reflection ETC has clearly been thought out and over designed.

You're right though that CGI is often used elegantly in the background and you never notice it's there. I have no problem with CGI being used well for such purposes (set extensions, ETC).

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978


I'll agree with you on CG gore. It almost always looks poor. Even the example in the video I just linked to is less than convincing, and it is worlds better than what they had in the likes of Rambo 4 and The Expendables.

Compare it to the Robocop example I posted earlier in the thread and there is no comparison.



I think squibs are great and are not used often enough in today's action world, but with that said there is plenty of incredible CGI gore that brings horrifying barbaric violence to the screen that simply could not be achieved practically. There are places you can't place blood pumps, ETC, and CGI gore opens the door for screen mayehm that wouldn't have been possible before now. I'm actually a big defender of CGI blood when it's used well, it allows the filmaker to stage and shoot scenes in ways we've not seen before.


quote:

ORIGINAL: clownfoot


quote:

ORIGINAL: King of Kafiristan

I just want to take a moment to apologize for my tone in addressing the CGI effects in JURASSIC PARK. I come from an American film world where many people I know are fond of claiming that not only are JURASSIC PARK's CGI effects revolutionary, masterful and beautiful, they're still somehow objectively THE MOST REAL CGI EFFECTS of all time. These people claim that no CGI creature has looked more real since.

I am used to tilting against the windmills of that argument, and so I was trying to preemptively cut it off at the knees with my initial post.

What cannot be denied though is that the JP CGI effects were perfectly used and the animation holds up without a doubt. The Phil Tippet people who assisted ILM in the animation had a background in claymation and physical effects. CGI was a new technology, and so painstaking care was taken to ensure the movement of the REX looked perfect.

In years since, many CGI creations fling themselves about weightlessly, looking for all intents and purposes like a live action cartoon rather than an animal or creature that could possibly exist in the real world. For the JP CGI REX, however, months were spent studying lions and how they move, hunt and stalk prey. People familiar working with clay ensured that the CGI wireframe models were imbued with a sense of weight that has rarely been matched since.

All I was trying to state with my criticisms of the CGI, such as they were, is that they no longer appear "photo real". They work perfectly in the scene and any limitations in rendering can easily be excused given the age of the film, I was just saying that they don't fool your eye the way the robot still can.



Doesn't Jurassic Park benefit in some way that the audience has never seen a dinosaur in the flesh, so we're able to suspend our disbelief that these are photo-real creatures on screen because we have little to objectively measure them against? Even when other animals have been watched to give an idea of how to animate them, the texture of the creatures is overlooked by the viewer because of the 'wow, it's a dinosaur factor'. I'd content that the Burly Brawl in the Matrix Reloaded is a better use of CGI, but that has been flagged with criticism because it was not totally photo-real - something the viewer can never get away from objectively as we view the human face and form everyday so know what to expect. It means the transition from real Neo to CGI Neo is sometimes a little obvious (at other times you can't really tell which is impressive). Until I watched Tintin the other night (and I've actually no idea of how the visuals were captured in Tintin - I presume it's a combination of CGI for the faces with actual body movement) I don't think any film has done a better job of capturing the human face in such a marvellous way. The Burly Brawl remains a pretty amazing spectacle, though, if you can get past the issue of the photo-realism not being quite there in 2002. There were some shots involved that you would never get from a conventional special effect.

Saying that, I still love the shot in Jedi viewed from the Falcon's cockpit where the mass of Tie-Fighters swarm over the rebel fleet at the start of the Death Star attack. Not even the space shots in the largely CGI-impressive Starship Troopers can top that. (Although Rico riding the beetle is proper shit. Like Legolas riding that massive creature in Return of the King is also proper shit).



Great post! I just wanted to mention that most of the space stuff in SST was shot using large scale models, part of the reason it holds up so well I think! [:)]


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978

I think it is widely accepted that people are incredibly hard to recreate as they the one thing we are most attuned to recognise. When something is off, even by a tiny margin, we automatically read it as being wrong and our brain rejects it.

The Matrix films have always been a strange mix of flawlessly executed shots and really rather bad ones.

I think the Burly Brawl was one of those sequences where the technology just wasn't mature enough to cope with the concept. I'm not convinced even today it could be perfectly achieved.

Tintin's characters faces are exaggerated to the point of caricature. We are far more willing to accept something which misses reality by a great margin than something which misses it by a tiny amount. When you try to get too close you have to deal with the "uncanny valley" situation where things just look creepy. The Polar Express for example.



TIN TIN didn't work for me because the main character was truly freakish looking. The others were stylized cartoons that just happened to have pores, but Tin Tin himself was close enough to a regular human that I found his appearance deeply unsettling and distracting. Really weird film.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gimli The Dwarf


Not quite along the same lines, well maybe a bit, but this is one of the reason's why I love Davy Jones in the Pirates films. The only reason I know he's CGI is because I know he doesn't exist in real life.



One of the areas of FX work I'm now most excited about are digital doubles. It really is opening up a whole new world of story telling possibilities. Davy Jones was indeed extremely impressive.




DazDaMan -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 10:42:28 AM)

Am I the only person then that was not convinced by Davy Jones in any way, shape or form?




Whistler -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 11:35:39 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: DazDaMan


quote:

ORIGINAL: st3veebee

quote:

ORIGINAL: DazDaMan


quote:

ORIGINAL: st3veebee

Regarding Jaws: I think adding a cgi shark for the moments when he swims by instead of just planking along would improve it. Other wise I am quite happy with Bruce.



I don't know. The shot where Bruce swims by the Orca (as seen from atop the crow's nest) gives you a sense of how fucking HUGE that shark really is, and the fact that he hardly moves as he goes by makes him look more majestic. The sequences where the shark's fin powers through the water without effort makes the strength and power of the shark much more impressive.

If it was CG'd, it would be jerky and, OK, realistic, but that's NOT what was intended, I think....



I'm torn here. When I treat it as the film I always loved and know so well, the shark works for me: and you're spot on in that you get a sense of the scale of the shark.

However, if I stop and get out of my normal mindset: the shark is suddenly a laughably parazlyed blob.


See, again, I disagree. The shark not working is what makes it work.

The irony is that the sharks in the sequels looked worse, despite the supposed advances in technology!

(That said, I always had a soft spot for Bruce IV. No idea why! [:D])


The same can be said for the Alien franchise. The xenomorph looks perfectly believable in 1 & 2, but in 3 (using CGI) it just looks awful.




DazDaMan -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 11:38:48 AM)

Sometimes there's just no substitute for a guy in a monster suit... [;)]




Dpp1978 -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 11:41:50 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler

The same can be said for the Alien franchise. The xenomorph looks perfectly believable in 1 & 2, but in 3 (using CGI) it just looks awful.


It was a rod puppet. I think there was one shot of the Alien that used CG in the entire film.

I don't know if they added any extra CG to the extended cut but if the Alien looked bad in the theatrical cut it was down to poor practical effects.

Now the CG Aliens in Resurrection on the other hand...




Coyleone -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 1:07:45 PM)

I'd like to add Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy 2 to the conversation. Incredible practical effects.




kumar -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (8/4/2012 1:39:29 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Coyleone

I'd like to add Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy 2 to the conversation. Incredible practical effects.


I cant stand the Faun in the Pans Labyrinth, compared to everything else it looks terrible which is a shame as he is in it a fair bit! Hellboy 2 though is classic, they look really good and it helps the film is so much better than the 1st. My favorite practical effects and im sure other people will agree come from the thing, the extended sequence from the recussitation to the walking head- fucking amazing. Its a bit of a shame the finale looks a bit daft, but im not sure the aforementioned sequence can be beat. Forget the T rex, the "guy" screaming with his tongue rolling and neck stretching coupled with the redness of his face then pulling itself along the floor with its tongue... brilliant [:)]




Nexus Wookie -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (9/4/2012 8:58:53 PM)

Guillermo Del Toro is one of a handful of directors that have mastered the art of blending practical effects with special effects seamlessly. If you look at his films, starting from Mimic to Hellboy 2 onwards his effects work look stunning.

In Blade 2 , during his very funny and informative commentary he states that there were maybe 2 effects shots he was unhappy with - both were CGI. And watching it you'll also agree, it looks 'fake' compared to his practical effects.

But he had managed to marry the two brilliantly for Hellboy. In fact so good were the effects work even the CGI scenes looked like stop motion puppetry (like the birth of the Hell Hound in the museum). As for Pan's Labyrinth, the whole thing was done expertly.

But then you have directors like George Lucas who go all out CGI crazy, and it looks terrible. The Phantom Menace has some awful or should we say 'dated' CGI work in it, why Lucas could not go practical with CGI I do not know. Same also goes for The Attack of the Clones. Some of the effects work, especially creature effects look so fake. Like Obi Wan's chat in the diner with the four armed Dex. And as for Yoda, the less we talk about it the better! Basically, George Lucas shitted on my childhood with Phantom and Clones! And yet becuase of my love of Star Wars, I try to tolerate it. Try to look for the good points in an ocean of piss poor!

And someone stated Aliens 3, I wholly agree. Because the original Aliens in the first two films look way more realistic to me than the fake looking CGI ones in the latter films. (in AVP they look like a bad joke!).

If you look at I Am Legend, in my view the film was desttroyed by bad, shoddy CGI effects!. The Zombie/Vampires looked so fake as to insult the audiences intelligence. EMPIRE summed it up perfectly in their review when they said that you almost thought that a bunch of people would come pop out from behind and shout ''April Fool's'' because so bad were the CGI effects for the monsters! The film up till then had been excellent. Will Smith was excellent (as was his dog!), the cinematography by Andrew Lesnie was amazing, capturing a beautiful look of a desolate New York via Magic Hour....until those un-scary clowns reared their ugly heads! What was the director Francis Lawrence thinking? The poor CGI single handidly destroyed the film and took away all semblance of believability away from it.

Even the CGI in Avatar, as 'ground-breaking' as it was, was maybe only 98% photo real. I have to admit that I enjoyed Avatar a lot, afterall I am a sucker for sci-fi films! But the audience can tell what is real and what is fake. Who knows, maybe Avatar 2 will finally have mastered 'real' CGI effects.

But until then, and for those reasons, I will always support practical effects over CGI.




Dpp1978 -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (9/4/2012 10:31:08 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie

Guillermo Del Toro is one of a handful of directors that have mastered the art of blending practical effects with special effects seamlessly. If you look at his films, starting from Mimic to Hellboy 2 onwards his effects work look stunning.

In Blade 2 , during his very funny and informative commentary he states that there were maybe 2 effects shots he was unhappy with - both were CGI. And watching it you'll also agree, it looks 'fake' compared to his practical effects.

But he had managed to marry the two brilliantly for Hellboy. In fact so good were the effects work even the CGI scenes looked like stop motion puppetry (like the birth of the Hell Hound in the museum). As for Pan's Labyrinth, the whole thing was done expertly.


I doubt anyone would argue that he is anything but a master of visual storytelling and the use of visual effects; be they practical or computer generated. It saddens me that I'll never get to see his version of The Hobbit.

quote:

But then you have directors like George Lucas who go all out CGI crazy, and it looks terrible. The Phantom Menace has some awful or should we say 'dated' CGI work in it, why Lucas could not go practical with CGI I do not know. Same also goes for The Attack of the Clones. Some of the effects work, especially creature effects look so fake. Like Obi Wan's chat in the diner with the four armed Dex. And as for Yoda, the less we talk about it the better! Basically, George Lucas shitted on my childhood with Phantom and Clones! And yet becuase of my love of Star Wars, I try to tolerate it. Try to look for the good points in an ocean of piss poor!


He did, especially for Episode I.

In Episode I the environments were, in the vast majority of cases, a mixture of real locations, full and partial sets, and model work tied together with CG. Most of the bigger ships were miniatures shot using old school motion control techniques. A lot of the creatures were practical, even Yoda; at least until his recent CG makeover.

Some of the effects look pretty ropey, but you find bad shots in any effects heavy film, no matter when they were made.

quote:

And someone stated Aliens 3, I wholly agree. Because the original Aliens in the first two films look way more realistic to me than the fake looking CGI ones in the latter films. (in AVP they look like a bad joke!).


Again the creature in Alien 3 is a rod puppet, at least in wide shots. If it looks bad it is a failure of practical effects work not CGI.

quote:

If you look at I Am Legend, in my view the film was desttroyed by bad, shoddy CGI effects!. The Zombie/Vampires looked so fake as to insult the audiences intelligence. EMPIRE summed it up perfectly in their review when they said that you almost thought that a bunch of people would come pop out from behind and shout ''April Fool's'' because so bad were the CGI effects for the monsters! The film up till then had been excellent. Will Smith was excellent (as was his dog!), the cinematography by Andrew Lesnie was amazing, capturing a beautiful look of a desolate New York via Magic Hour....until those un-scary clowns reared their ugly heads! What was the director Francis Lawrence thinking? The poor CGI single handidly destroyed the film and took away all semblance of believability away from it.


Hard to argue with that one. From what I have read the decision to switch to CGI was made very late in production and wasn't budgeted for. It was a rushed job done on a shoestring, so that might go some way to explaining it.

quote:

Even the CGI in Avatar, as 'ground-breaking' as it was, was maybe only 98% photo real. I have to admit that I enjoyed Avatar a lot, afterall I am a sucker for sci-fi films! But the audience can tell what is real and what is fake. Who knows, maybe Avatar 2 will finally have mastered 'real' CGI effects.


Just out of curiosity is there a formula for discerning how close to photo-real an effect is?

Facetiousness aside Avatar suffers from the same problem so many films with human like CG characters: we see the flaws instinctively. I'm amazed they managed to get so close to achieving true believability. There isn't any practical technique that could get so close save perhaps men in suits. Which would have looked like the Ben Stiller skit from the Oscars a couple of years ago.

That we can tell real from fake is just as true for practical shots. I could point out as many poor practical effects from classic films, even those celebrated for their effects in their time and after, and too often viewed through rose tinted glasses.

Again it is not the technique, it is the artistry used when applying them.

quote:

But until then, and for those reasons, I will always support practical effects over CGI.


It seems you have set a near insurmountable standard for CG to attain. You ask for true believability, do you ask the same of a practical effect before you accept it?




Nexus Wookie -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (9/4/2012 11:10:58 PM)

Sorry, I should have been more clear. Regarding Episode 1, Lucas did use practical effects, but what I had in mind when writing the above was why Lucas had not merged the two, ie practical effects and visual, an example would be Guillermo Del Toro's creation of Pan in Pan's Labyrinth. Pan is practical effects merged with visual effects and the result is a creature who look's very real indeed. Rather than going all out CGI for certain characters like Jar Jar, or even the puppet Yoda would have looked more convincing had he been tapped up with CGI.

Lucas' decision of going CGI crazy is more clearer in Attack of the Clones, where most of his CGI creations look awful. Including Yoda! I mean look at the character Dex in the diner scene; it looks like a CGI cartoon!

My argument is for filmmakers to strive for the middle path; try to merge both. Because the result is more believable.

Regarding my last point, having grown up watching practical effects in film's I have more respect for guys like Stan Winston and Rob Bottin who to me are effects gods. And for me a computer has a little way to go before it can be on par or better than the works of the afore mentioned legends. But having said that, were it not for CGI we would not have seen films like The Lord of the Rings made possible. A certain Gollum springs to mind! And again, Peter Jackson did a sterling job mixing both practical and visual effects. A key example is the minatures of locations like Minis Tirith seamlessly married with CGI. The result can be breath taking!





Invader_Ace -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (10/4/2012 9:59:07 AM)

The last ten minutes of Society.  It's mind-blowing.




Dpp1978 -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (10/4/2012 10:39:32 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie

Sorry, I should have been more clear. Regarding Episode 1, Lucas did use practical effects, but what I had in mind when writing the above was why Lucas had not merged the two, ie practical effects and visual, an example would be Guillermo Del Toro's creation of Pan in Pan's Labyrinth. Pan is practical effects merged with visual effects and the result is a creature who look's very real indeed. Rather than going all out CGI for certain characters like Jar Jar, or even the puppet Yoda would have looked more convincing had he been tapped up with CGI.


The original idea with Jar Jar was to use Ahmed Best's body and comp a CG head in. But when they did tests they found that it was easier, and more convincing to animate him from scratch. There is a comparison between a head switch and a full CG Jar Jar on one of the DVD documentaries and they look about the same.

The puppet Yoda's problem wasn't that it was unconvincing; technically it was better than the puppet from the original trilogy. the problem was it didn't look like Yoda.

I still think Episode I, as a technical piece, stands up better today than other films from the same period. In many ways I think it has held up better than Episode II.

quote:

Lucas' decision of going CGI crazy is more clearer in Attack of the Clones, where most of his CGI creations look awful. Including Yoda! I mean look at the character Dex in the diner scene; it looks like a CGI cartoon!


I don't have a problem with CG Yoda, but I agree with you that Dexter is fairly poor. In fact the entire diner scene is entirely superfluous and I wouldn't be sorry to see it cut. The droid foundry is another one.

I'm willing to give the film a little slack as it truly was a ground breaking technical feat, at least as revolutionary as Star Wars was in 1977. To go totally digital was incredibly risky as the technology was still being developed as the film was being shot. To spend over $100 million of your own money on what was essentially a proof of concept film is astonishingly brave, even if it did have the Star Wars brand attached. You can call George Lucas a lot of things, but timid isn't one of them.

quote:

My argument is for filmmakers to strive for the middle path; try to merge both. Because the result is more believable.


Again you make a sweeping statement. My argument is it doesn't matter what technique is used as long as it is done well. If it is done well you shouldn't be able to tell whether it is A puppet, a man in a suit, a totally CG creation or a cunning blend of all 3

I have seen model shots which were totally real and others which obviously weren't. I've seen men in suits which are entirely convincing and others which aren't. I've seen CG you couldn't tell from real life and CG which looks like a bad video game.

It is all down to the artist and the technicians who create the shots, not the medium. You go on about Guillermo Del Toro as a master of the art: he is that. But it is because he chooses the best toll for the job in hand. Blending a practical effect with CG elements isn't necessarily more convincing than a totally CG shot.

quote:

Regarding my last point, having grown up watching practical effects in film's I have more respect for guys like Stan Winston and Rob Bottin who to me are effects gods. And for me a computer has a little way to go before it can be on par or better than the works of the afore mentioned legends. But having said that, were it not for CGI we would not have seen films like The Lord of the Rings made possible. A certain Gollum springs to mind! And again, Peter Jackson did a sterling job mixing both practical and visual effects. A key example is the minatures of locations like Minis Tirith seamlessly married with CGI. The result can be breath taking!




I grew up in the '80s. I was raised on a stream of great, old school effects movies. When I was old enough to, I read up on how they were done. My list of heroes in the field probably include all the same people yours would. George Melies, Winsor McCay, Walt Disney, Lon Chaney, Willis O' Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Doug Trumbull, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Tom Savini, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Rick Baker, Stan Winston, Rob Bottin, Steve Johnson and so on.


But most of them (those who are still working) have moved with the times. CG became another tool in the box to be used, and abused just like any other tool.

As a final not it always strikes me how The Lord of the Rings' use of miniatures is always commented on as if they were the only films of the post CG age to use them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even Episode III, the most CG of the "CG" Star Wars films used more miniatures than the entirety of the original trilogy. Some of which were at least as impressive in scale to Peter Jackson's "biggatures".

Watch this and see:

Click me.

To get back to the point of this thread, celebrating the best in old school effects, I'd nominate the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's oddly cuddly rampage through New York.




Nexus Wookie -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 12:05:17 PM)

quote:

My argument is it doesn't matter what technique is used as long as it is done well. If it is done well you shouldn't be able to tell whether it is A puppet, a man in a suit, a totally CG creation or a cunning blend of all 3


Agreed.




sharkboy -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 3:56:45 PM)

Personally, I don't hold with this preciousness for old-school or new school FX.  Both have their disasters, both have their masterpieces.  For every jaw-dropping animatronic T-Rex in JP, there was a CG Brachiosaur feeding on the top branches of a tree, or a swarming herd of Gallimimus.  For every man in a rubber suit there was in Men In Black there was, well, Men In Black 2.[:)]  At the end of the day, all I want to see on screen is something that will convince me to suspend my disbelief.  I don't care if it took 10 puppeteers or one guy on a computer to get it there, as long as it works.

But...

Someone mentioned Jaws earlier.  If, as seemed to be the case in the original post, they were suggesting that had Mr 'Berg shot with CGI instead of the Bruce we all came to know and love we would have had a better movie then I say shame on you!  It has correctly been pointed out that the restrictions in the mechanical shark caused Spielberg to rethink shots, subsequently leading to a much greater feeling of tension and threat and when it did make the occasional appearance (such as the "why don't you come down here and shovel some of this shit" scene), it had so much more impact because of this.  If Stevie could have gone CG-crazy like his pal George and shot whatever he wanted on the computer, we would not have had anything like the movie we ended up with.

If, however, they were suggesting that in this day and age a little CG post-production tinkering would add to the movie, then I have to say I would be intrigued to see such a beast (though only if the original remained available!).  In fact, I recall reading in Empire in the months following the success of the mid-90s theatrical release of the rebooted Star Wars OT that Spielberg had actually considered revisiting his masterpiece to do just that.

Having said all that, whoever said that the sharks in Deep Blue Sea were realistic needs to have their eyes tested!  The robotic sharks may have been used to good effect at times, but even they were far from convinvingly realistic




st3veebee -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 4:57:11 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy

But...

Someone mentioned Jaws earlier.  If, as seemed to be the case in the original post, they were suggesting that had Mr 'Berg shot with CGI instead of the Bruce we all came to know and love we would have had a better movie then I say shame on you!  It has correctly been pointed out that the restrictions in the mechanical shark caused Spielberg to rethink shots, subsequently leading to a much greater feeling of tension and threat and when it did make the occasional appearance (such as the "why don't you come down here and shovel some of this shit" scene), it had so much more impact because of this.  If Stevie could have gone CG-crazy like his pal George and shot whatever he wanted on the computer, we would not have had anything like the movie we ended up with.

If, however, they were suggesting that in this day and age a little CG post-production tinkering would add to the movie, then I have to say I would be intrigued to see such a beast (though only if the original remained available!).  In fact, I recall reading in Empire in the months following the success of the mid-90s theatrical release of the rebooted Star Wars OT that Spielberg had actually considered revisiting his masterpiece to do just that.



I mentioned that simply enhancing shots from the film could improve it overall. Literally replacing the giant rubber shark with a moving cgi one could possibly be great if done right.

I'm quite happy to have it left alone, but if it coul db improved then why not. (Keep the original for people not in this frame of mind)




DancingClown -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 5:42:44 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: st3veebee

quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy

But...

Someone mentioned Jaws earlier.  If, as seemed to be the case in the original post, they were suggesting that had Mr 'Berg shot with CGI instead of the Bruce we all came to know and love we would have had a better movie then I say shame on you!  It has correctly been pointed out that the restrictions in the mechanical shark caused Spielberg to rethink shots, subsequently leading to a much greater feeling of tension and threat and when it did make the occasional appearance (such as the "why don't you come down here and shovel some of this shit" scene), it had so much more impact because of this.  If Stevie could have gone CG-crazy like his pal George and shot whatever he wanted on the computer, we would not have had anything like the movie we ended up with.

If, however, they were suggesting that in this day and age a little CG post-production tinkering would add to the movie, then I have to say I would be intrigued to see such a beast (though only if the original remained available!).  In fact, I recall reading in Empire in the months following the success of the mid-90s theatrical release of the rebooted Star Wars OT that Spielberg had actually considered revisiting his masterpiece to do just that.



I mentioned that simply enhancing shots from the film could improve it overall. Literally replacing the giant rubber shark with a moving cgi one could possibly be great if done right.


Even if 'done right' it wouldn't improve the film. And personally I don't understand how it could be done right at all.

quote:

I'm quite happy to have it left alone, but if it coul db improved then why not.


Because it doesn't need to be improved. It would just be an exercise in cosmetics. That's all.




jonson -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 6:43:21 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: st3veebee

Literally replacing the giant rubber shark with a moving cgi one could possibly be great if done right.



You've got a good point to make st3veebee, perhaps you just picked the wrong film to fuck with [:D]
Jaws is Bruce, Bruce is the rubber shark. It would be no different if Spielberg were to replace the real Robert Shaw with a CGI Robert Shaw (for those un-filmed extra scenes!! [:D])

I think, for me, as Sharky pointed out, it's about getting a good mix, whether it's animatronics or CGI, I don't care too much as long as it's done well.
I don't know what is cheaper (which is a massive factor for filmmakers let's face it) but I hope we don't look back on the creators like Bottin, Savini, Mattey etc etc etc, and wish for a return to that hands-on approach.
I'd rather see a shoddy attempt at animatronics than shoddy CGI. It seems a bit more honest.




horribleives -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 9:02:42 PM)

And also I don't care what anyone says - the shark in Jaws looks fucking class.




Nexus Wookie -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (11/4/2012 11:31:48 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: horribleives

And also I don't care what anyone says - the shark in Jaws looks fucking class.


Amen to that![:D]




st3veebee -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 10:48:40 AM)

Ha! I appear to be losing repsect here quickly. Firstly: Jaws will always be my joined favourite film of all time along with a few others. Always.

Now: ignoring that comment about replacing a human with cgi (come on now), my point is this. Yes, Bruce is a legend. Yes it looks fine-to-amazing throughout the film. If it could be replaced by a photorealistic cgi or substituion for one or two iffy shots (it gliding past the boat before they estimate its length on the Orca, and when the cordaul and Dorsal fins are seen above the surface and slowly lower into the water from a distance) : just adding a bit of movement here (if perfect looking) it would be nice.




great_badir -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 1:24:06 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978
The set extensions in Zodiac are an oft cited example of the near seamless blending of real life and digital wizardry.


I agree that CGI for inanimate objects (or inanimate objects moving within a space - cf. the broken glass falling with Michael Douglas towards the end of The Game) is uniformally good, however living and breathing things (within the fictional film world) done in CGI to me look terrible.

My one (and, to date, ONLY one) concession to that after thinking more about it is the Transformers films - some of the 'bot CGI in them is simply stunning (completely ignoring the films' quality or not, for the purposes of this discussion).


And yeah - BIG no to replace Bruce with a CGI shark. Anyone who says a CGI shark would look better during the finale when it pops out of the water whilst Brody's on the sinking Orca's......whatever the sea-fairing term is for the big pole (fnarr) is plain cray' (quoting an O/T O/T thread).




Spaldron -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 4:18:00 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir
however living and breathing things (within the fictional film world) done in CGI to me look terrible.



Pretty much anything Andy Serkis has done, from Gollum to Caesar has been the best examples of living and breathing CGI creatures or persons.




Nexus Wookie -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 5:50:25 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978
The set extensions in Zodiac are an oft cited example of the near seamless blending of real life and digital wizardry.


I agree that CGI for inanimate objects (or inanimate objects moving within a space - cf. the broken glass falling with Michael Douglas towards the end of The Game) is uniformally good, however living and breathing things (within the fictional film world) done in CGI to me look terrible.

My one (and, to date, ONLY one) concession to that after thinking more about it is the Transformers films - some of the 'bot CGI in them is simply stunning (completely ignoring the films' quality or not, for the purposes of this discussion).


And yeah - BIG no to replace Bruce with a CGI shark. Anyone who says a CGI shark would look better during the finale when it pops out of the water whilst Brody's on the sinking Orca's......whatever the sea-fairing term is for the big pole (fnarr) is plain cray' (quoting an O/T O/T thread).


I have to agree with you on that one, regardless of how shit the story line may be, the CGI work on Transformers is excellent. In fact, I love watching the movie (esp Transformers 2) time to timejust for the cool CGI robots!? I know I stated earlier that I prefer practical effects to CGI, well the only time I am willing to root for CGI is if it is done well.

Also, out of the two SFX powerhouses, ILM and WETA, i'd have to say that ILM are just a step ahead of the chasing pack. Some of there CGI work over the years has been excellent.




Spaldron -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 6:03:57 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie

Also, out of the two SFX powerhouses, ILM and WETA, i'd have to say that ILM are just a step ahead of the chasing pack. Some of there CGI work over the years has been excellent.


I'd have to disagree with this point, pretty much all the best and most groundbreaking CGI in the last decade have come from WETA bar a few exceptions.




superdan -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 6:11:17 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Spaldron


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie

Also, out of the two SFX powerhouses, ILM and WETA, i'd have to say that ILM are just a step ahead of the chasing pack. Some of there CGI work over the years has been excellent.


I'd have to disagree with this point, pretty much all the best and most groundbreaking CGI in the last decade have come from WETA bar a few exceptions.


They're also guilty of some pretty shoddy work too though.




great_badir -> RE: Excellence in Practical Effects (12/4/2012 10:18:11 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Spaldron
Pretty much anything Andy Serkis has done, from Gollum to Caesar has been the best examples of living and breathing CGI creatures or persons.


I will agree that this has given the CGI character. But it still looks like CGI. The only difference is it's CGI with a heart. But it still doesn't look anywhere near as real as good pratical effects from 30-odd years ago. Because they are real (in that they are there and in that space and time with the actors, or whatever) and made with tangible things. CGI isn't.




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