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I'd like to be cynical and say that the CGI people are gouging the SFX budgets of productions, but I don't know if there's every been a cost analysis done to compare wrecking several cars for that racing scene on pages 60 to 65 verse rending the same scene digitally.

 

Admittedly even my eye gets fooled, but after a few viewings you can still generally tell what's real and what isn't.

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Except VFX vendors are going out of business left and right because there is no profit margin. Except for a couple major major longtime companies and some boutiques, most of them have folded.

Which makes me wonder if it isn't smarter to reintroduce some of the classic corporate Hollywood model where everything is done in house. That way you always have a trained SFX team, trained stunt team, trained actors, directors, and just crew in general to crank out quality productions.

 

In contracting it's all about networking and connections. All but one of the production companies I worked for years back is in business. That's not unusual. Film companies start up and close up shop once the project is done. But keeping the skills and talent alive and within reach when needed, to me at least, seems like a more logical move.

 

*EDIT*

Oops. The point here being that you wouldn't have these massive budgets making or breaking production companies. At least that's my take. As an example, something we'll never see again are the masses hired for a film like "Spartacus" to represent the hordes of fleeing slaves, or the Roman armies clashing with Spartacus'es army. You simply can't fake the medium long shots where you see actors' and stuntmen's faces, clothes, and just general person.

 

I love computers. My middle school in San Mateo County was the first in the world to teach kids how to program. I was part of that. I build computers. I love gaming. But computers are still computers, and there's still an element of controlled unnatural motion that comes with them.

 

Again, just my take.

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Which makes me wonder if it isn't smarter to reintroduce some of the classic corporate Hollywood model where everything is done in house. That way you always have a trained SFX team, trained stunt team, trained actors, directors, and just crew in general to crank out quality productions.

 

In contracting it's all about networking and connections. All but one of the production companies I worked for years back is in business. That's not unusual. Film companies start up and close up shop once the project is done. But keeping the skills and talent alive and within reach when needed, to me at least, seems like a more logical move.

 

*EDIT*

Oops. The point here being that you wouldn't have these massive budgets making or breaking production companies. At least that's my take. As an example, something we'll never see again are the masses hired for a film like "Spartacus" to represent the hordes of fleeing slaves, or the Roman armies clashing with Spartacus'es army. You simply can't fake the medium long shots where you see actors' and stuntmen's faces, clothes, and just general person.

 

I love computers. My middle school in San Mateo County was the first in the world to teach kids how to program. I was part of that. I build computers. I love gaming. But computers are still computers, and there's still an element of controlled unnatural motion that comes with them.

 

Again, just my take.

 

 

The key to any efficient production is to pick the right tool for the right job. Some of the worst stuff done is where producers get enamored with a new toy, CGI or otherwise, and its effects and go "ga-ga" over it. Titanic worked in part because the massive amounts of CGI was more like slightly romanticized, photorealist paintings that captured the flavor of the era than literal realism. Practicals, physical models, or CGI, it is still the art that drives the success of the result.

 

The CGI in Avatar worked because it was a beautifully painted, realistic-looking fantasy world. I can't imagine that being done any other way, though it was certainly a practical mixed mode production.

 

Of course, I'm biased and have been for a generation ;O)

 

Mars

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ok, may as well talk about what I've had exposure to...

 

How to Train Your Dragon - the Arena Spectacular

 

A live show with fire breathing and flying animatronic Dragons that couldn't have happened without the success of a %100 CG film or the hugely successful Walking with Dinosaurs live show which itself wouldn't have happened without the largely CG Walking with Dinosaurs TV series.

 

The wire flown dragons are ~1:2 - the walking ones are 1:1 and HUGE

 

There are hundreds of films ready to re-staged this way.

 

King Kong on stage is in the works

 

Imagine: Ghostbusters, Labyrinth - maybe a real 1:1 timing live Muppet Show with a real in theatre residence - give it a decade or two and we might see Transformers and so on.

 

And of course it's paving the way for it's own inception of story designed specifically for the format - (and maybe a CG movie spin off rolleyes.gif)

 

I guess it's where your interest lie with regards to this - are they working on the films, watching the films, or working with animatronics, scale models and seeing them come to life in any context (it really is interesting how much I personally give away to suspension of disbelief at the distinctly non-animal mechanisms).

 

I can understand a love of celluloid - but I'm as happy as a pig in poop working in this field.

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ok, may as well talk about what I've had exposure to...

 

How to Train Your Dragon - the Arena Spectacular

 

A live show with fire breathing and flying animatronic Dragons that couldn't have happened without the success of a %100 CG film or the hugely successful Walking with Dinosaurs live show which itself wouldn't have happened without the largely CG Walking with Dinosaurs TV series.

 

The wire flown dragons are ~1:2 - the walking ones are 1:1 and HUGE

 

There are hundreds of films ready to re-staged this way.

 

King Kong on stage is in the works

 

Imagine: Ghostbusters, Labyrinth - maybe a real 1:1 timing live Muppet Show with a real in theatre residence - give it a decade or two and we might see Transformers and so on.

 

And of course it's paving the way for it's own inception of story designed specifically for the format - (and maybe a CG movie spin off rolleyes.gif)

 

I guess it's where your interest lie with regards to this - are they working on the films, watching the films, or working with animatronics, scale models and seeing them come to life in any context (it really is interesting how much I personally give away to suspension of disbelief at the distinctly non-animal mechanisms).

 

I can understand a love of celluloid - but I'm as happy as a pig in poop working in this field.

 

 

Not big on theme parks as my tastes are jaded about such things and some of the stuff is really old-hat. Besides I'm getting too old to ride roller-coasters all day. I did really enjoy the Spiderman ride at Universal in Orlando. Nice combination of CG stereoscopic scenes tied to riding a motion controlled rig and set work that supported it.

 

35 years of stuff

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Not sure how roller coasters got involved but anyway sooner or later someone has to up the ante right ?

 

These guys have:

 

http://vimeo.com/12037084

 

(click the link)

 

This model is either from the version one or version two show in terms of the internals - they are up to a third iteration of sorts, apparently much quieter and more articulation...

 

It's wireless and there are no pre-recorded animations, all real time (with a slight delay) - no reason with the right wheel design and smooth enough rd you couldn't drive it down the street.

 

 

 

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Not sure how roller coasters got involved but anyway sooner or later someone has to up the ante right ?

 

These guys have:

 

http://vimeo.com/12037084

 

(click the link)

 

This model is either from the version one or version two show in terms of the internals - they are up to a third iteration of sorts, apparently much quieter and more articulation...

 

It's wireless and there are no pre-recorded animations, all real time (with a slight delay) - no reason with the right wheel design and smooth enough rd you couldn't drive it down the street.

So do you guys prefer models or CGI?

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My personal opinion is that CGI has a very inorganic and soulless feel to it. I grew up watching films with practical fx and so that is what I appreciate. I also appreciate the artistry involved in crafting physical effects and I'm sure a lot of very talented craftspeople lost career work due to the CGI age. This is very sad to me, and a very good example of how lethargic/uncreative the industry has become.

 

I also do not believe cost is an issue, because working on CGI is WAY more expensive than real fx. Like the OP said, that conception sequence was shot in an aquarium with panty hose and fishing lures. Not a million dollar sequence at all, and it still looks way better than something rendered on a mac.

 

Even the effects in a film like 2001: Space Odyssey from 1968 still look better than what is being produced today on computers.

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So do you guys prefer models or CGI?

 

Well, speaking for myself maybe it's a boring position to take but I prefer whatever fits the project. Most often for me that would equate to a mixture of the two.

 

I think The Abyss is a good example of brilliant real world effects combined with brilliant CG (for the time).

 

As for working with them, definitely models - but then things like motion capture and camera tracking really float my boat too.

 

I like it all tongue.gif

 

Imagine Tron (either) if didn't have CG

Imagine say Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and its ilk if they weren't practical

 

Then there are examples that work either way - Solaris vs. Solaris - (actually maybe I don't know enough about the Soderbergh version to qualify that ?)

 

In an attempt to get off the fence I'd say that if I somehow magically had the choice that Ridley Scotts Prometheus had to be made %100 model/practical or %100 CG - I'd ponder it for 5 seconds then say %100 model

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@Phil: I'm glad I am not the only one who has seen "Moon;" we need to start a club! :-D

 

@George: Are you talking about IV or VI? There's certainly a rough element to the SFX in IV(not that you can see them on anything but old VHS and obscure film and DVD copies), but if you're talking aobut VI, honestly, it's perfection. That may be the greatest space battle EVER done with models. They composited 100 pieces of film together to do it; you'll never see that level of craftsmanship ever again.

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EDIT: DIdn't realize this was page 1 of 2. Since you WORKED with these guys, you're entitled to criticize it, then. I'd say, since the only movie that got space almost 100% right was "2001" that no matter HOW they bank, it is wrong. Objects don't bank in space, or come to a stop when they run out of fuel. Also, you SEE engine exhaust, not just engines with lights, or without lights.

 

I've read one ILM guy griping how he could see some sort of painting artifact on the Hero model of Enterprise-E's Hull, think it was in "First Contact," so models certainly aren't perfect (not that anyone else could see this).

 

 

Anyway, not that "2010" got it right, or that this was why, but neither of Clarke's works were shot with blue screen. I wonder if half of the technology even exists anymore to do modelwork.

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but if you're talking aobut VI, honestly, it's perfection. That may be the greatest space battle EVER done with models.

 

yep.

 

I love how watching it at the time was so amazing and then decades later I get almost the same level of amazement in reading about the work involved.

 

Me and a friend in the year lower than me were probably the biggest star wars fans in the school - his father worked in camera dept actually, I wonder if that had anything to do with it ...

 

I'd like to try some out one year - keep it simple and utilise the technology of today - CAD/CNC, PC controlled steppers etc... likely some form of digital camera and digital post/composition - but at least all the elements would be model/scale/real.

 

give it a crack, see what happens

 

 

 

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@Phil: I'm glad I am not the only one who has seen "Moon;" we need to start a club! :-D

 

@George: Are you talking about IV or VI? There's certainly a rough element to the SFX in IV(not that you can see them on anything but old VHS and obscure film and DVD copies), but if you're talking aobut VI, honestly, it's perfection. That may be the greatest space battle EVER done with models. They composited 100 pieces of film together to do it; you'll never see that level of craftsmanship ever again.

Either/Or.

 

CGI has its place, in my opinion, as filler for stuff that models can't convey on the screen. I like the comment that CGI and models should compliment each other, because they're best used that way.

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Either/Or.

 

CGI has its place, in my opinion, as filler for stuff that models can't convey on the screen. I like the comment that CGI and models should compliment each other, because they're best used that way.

 

I missed the first page's comments. I see now that you were referring to VI; see my 2nd post.

 

 

Left out of my edit about the one guy throwing down his ciggie. Funny (and sad I guess) how some of the most beautiful things we create are, in actuality, a lot of pain and ugliness. That's the real photographic irony I was never taught in school.

 

 

I agree wholeheartedly about complementing the two. I think 4K scanning beats generation loss, optical printers, contact printers, and contrast buildup hands-down.

 

 

 

What gets me vehemently anti-digital are all the grandiose, devoid-of-fact, Computer Scientist blurbs about how great digi SFX this and software that have freed them from the "tyranny of 'celluloid', models" superior this, pixel that and I want to punch someone in the face.

 

If such things were TRUE, that'd be one thing, but what percentage of this industry is, honestly, working with vision that is sub 20/20?

 

 

 

I'd say things, honestly, *still* aren't quite there. Building a model is like building an actual ship, structure. While we are, predominantly, creators of fantasy, I don't think the stories we're telling should be totally detached from the events, wholly or partly from fact, that inspired them.

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I missed the first page's comments. I see now that you were referring to VI; see my 2nd post.

 

 

Left out of my edit about the one guy throwing down his ciggie. Funny (and sad I guess) how some of the most beautiful things we create are, in actuality, a lot of pain and ugliness. That's the real photographic irony I was never taught in school.

 

 

I agree wholeheartedly about complementing the two. I think 4K scanning beats generation loss, optical printers, contact printers, and contrast buildup hands-down.

 

 

 

What gets me vehemently anti-digital are all the grandiose, devoid-of-fact, Computer Scientist blurbs about how great digi SFX this and software that have freed them from the "tyranny of 'celluloid', models" superior this, pixel that and I want to punch someone in the face.

 

If such things were TRUE, that'd be one thing, but what percentage of this industry is, honestly, working with vision that is sub 20/20?

 

 

 

I'd say things, honestly, *still* aren't quite there. Building a model is like building an actual ship, structure. While we are, predominantly, creators of fantasy, I don't think the stories we're telling should be totally detached from the events, wholly or partly from fact, that inspired them.

Some other stuff I caught the tail end of when I was working;

"The Running Man"; I helped strike the miniature rail set used for the "rollercoaster" sequence where Arnie and his buddies got shot into the arena. The model was just that; a suped up railroad model built in a place called Colossal Studios in San Francisco. I took bits and pieces of it to the dump in Colma. At about the same time there was a guy on TV who said that computers will do everything, and CAN do anything. I was skeptical, and still am. A film like "The Running Man" really couldn't benefit from CGI, in my opinion.

 

But, another film I caught the closing stages of, part of which was shot locally at San Francisco Studios, was "Inner Space". That film, specifically the sequences with Quaid floating around in Martin Short's body, would have greatly benefitted from CGI touch-ups. There was a sequence in the apartment shot on the stage where Martin Short is whipping around because his face is going back to normal (in the story Quaid had altered his facial expression via the miracle of his little ship). I think there may have been some digital technology involved in those shots, but the effects stand up to this day.

 

As for allocating resources, well, I guess money is blown here and there to get the shot just right. I remember either a Heinz ketchup or A1-Steak Sauce commercial that was shooting on another local stage. The production team brought in a fully costumed cast to mimic the comic book Popeye characters, greased up four or five full flats to recreate a greasy spoon diner. It was a lot of elaborate work for a shot that was never used. In fact it just served as an "animatronic", so to speak. There was no CGI nor digital technology involved in that one, but no amount of computer technology would have altered the thinking of freely spending money on artwork that would never be used in the final product. The point here being that sometimes it doesn't matter what tools are available or not around, because the director's going to blow money on something somewhere. :)

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Thought of this thread last night...

 

About 40~50 minutes in to Andrew Niccols 'In Time' there is a car crash that is scale model (down a ditch in daylight) - at least it has that look about it - it's moving too fast. Even if they got the scale/speed ratio correct maybe we're so conditioned to see things like this in slower motion nowadays that something scale in size but 1:1 in time (which is to say corrected for scale in time) looks false.

 

ha ha - confusing

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31606-endor_briefing_teaser.jpg

 

 

Personally, I don't really consider this CGI. This is a graphic siimulating the holographic technology of a futuristic space-faring people. And I wouldn't be surprised if it were cell-animated then superimposed.

 

 

 

All of the ship computer displays in "2001" were cell-animated by hand then filmed onto 16mm reversal, then projected in sync with the 65mm camera for each shot.

 

 

 

Not nearly as easy, but certainly an impressive feat considering the technological limmitations.

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I hear ya Karl, but it is CG (unless my cinefex memory has failed me).

 

Yes, Phil - if I recall there is either relative motion of the hologram with the scene, relative motion of the camera with the scene or relative rotation within the hologram.

 

I think quite a large perspective change and/or zoom within the hologram also.

 

But yeh, its been a long time...

 

I cant find it online - and maybe the new version has been 'improved' rolleyes.gif - you'd have to find an old VHS biggrin.gif

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