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post #91 of 190 Old 01-05-2010, 11:35 AM
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Wow! Sure CGI is better, and the advancements like Avatar, with seamless interactions, are fantastic.

I have, though, a different frame of reference. In the mid-'50s I saw King Kong at a theatre matinee. Big! I hadn't seen anything like that before and I was astounded! I was young, used to black and white TV, so it all seemed real. I've carried that with me all my life. Is Kong more realistic in the new version? Yes. But, the original had an other-worldly quality that seemed even more fantastic. Plus I am still amazed that O'Brien could interject emotion into those models. And you know the composite shots were groundbreaking. I still prefer that version.

Then came Harryhausen's "7th Voyage of Sinbad". I saw it when it first came out and everyone was talking about it. Everyone! Creatures we hadn't imagined brought to life. Sure it was hyper-real and a period piece, making it an absolute fantasy. But what a lasting impression that made. I could hardly wait for the next Harryhausen film (every three years!); a lifelong fan.

Those are impressions I'll never forget, even after seeing the latest technical innovations. I would never put the new stuff down, certainly see the leap, so maybe it's more emotional than anything. I would expect the same for kids today.
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post #92 of 190 Old 01-05-2010, 12:05 PM
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I guess the first f/x scene that I really remember being seriously impressed with was the original Star Wars in the opening scene when the battle cruiser does its seemingly endless entrance onto screen, partly also beause it was the first surround sound movie I'd ever been to as well. I'd seen other stuff and enjoyed them a lot, like 2001, but I particularly remember that SWs scene and that I could kind of feel everyone else in the theater thinking the same thing.

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post #93 of 190 Old 01-05-2010, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHouse View Post

You can say that again. Sheesh. He is a career killer.

For big screen newbies? Yeah, I could see that to some extent. Not previously established actors though. McGregor, Neeson, Portman, Jackson, Billy Dee Williams...all SW did was increase their bank accounts considerably. Then again, Hamill & Fisher faded from the spotlight a bit due to either personal choices (Hamill)...or personal demons (Fisher)

Now if your name is Harrison Ford.... of course, the Lucas effect on his career was quite the opposite.

But it may be telling that GL was of course initially hesitant to cast him in both SW & Raiders. Good for us that Uncle George had either Spielberg or Gary Kurtz around back then to point him in the proper direction.

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post #94 of 190 Old 01-05-2010, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Joseph View Post

x2

For those of you that have seen Zodiac, please watch this featurette showing the CGI in use. I saw this after watching the movie, and marveled at David Fincher's brilliant use of the technology to enhance his storytelling.

The scene in which Mark Ruffalo's character is walking down the street, and looks back towards the camera still blows me away. When I was watching the movie, I had absolutely no idea that any CGI was in use.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT491ctM8Kk

Even the blood &/or gunshots fired during the few scenes of the Zodiac killer doing what he did best involved A LOT of CG. No blood squibs used at all, prop guns that fired NOTHING at all on set, and even knives in some cases, were 100% digital. Wild.

The closest thing to "obvious" would be the shots of San Francisco in the '70s - and only noticable becasue SF doesn't look quite like that anymore. But the effect was more "how did Fincher travel back in time" than "...oh look - what a cute, digital San Francisco"

In terms of HOW the CG was implemented was quite similar to what Lucas did in the SW prequels, but with much different - and maybe even more impressive- results.

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post #95 of 190 Old 01-05-2010, 01:00 PM
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Contact is an example of excellent use of f/x to tell a very compelling story. Shots like where the young Ellie runs up the stairs to get the medicine, and the whole scene becomes a reflection in the mirror. It's something that many people may not even notice, but it's very nice and well done. Or the pan through the door window and back out. It's subtle but very effective even if people don't necessarily even notice them.

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post #96 of 190 Old 01-06-2010, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

Contact is an example of excellent use of f/x to tell a very compelling story. Shots like where the young Ellie runs up the stairs to get the medicine, and the whole scene becomes a reflection in the mirror. It's something that many people may not even notice, but it's very nice and well done. Or the pan through the door window and back out. It's subtle but very effective even if people don't necessarily even notice them.

If you listen to the commentaries on the DVD or Blu-ray, you'll really be amazed at just how much totally seamless CG was used in that movie. Virtually every shot in the film had some CG elements, literally down to things as small as Zemekis changing the position of Jodie Foster's eyebrow.

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post #97 of 190 Old 01-06-2010, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

I guess the first f/x scene that I really remember being seriously impressed with was the original Star Wars in the opening scene when the battle cruiser does its seemingly endless entrance onto screen, partly also beause it was the first surround sound movie I'd ever been to as well. I'd seen other stuff and enjoyed them a lot, like 2001, but I particularly remember that SWs scene and that I could kind of feel everyone else in the theater thinking the same thing.

In order for scenes like these to be "special" they really had to be experienced at the time in the theater. You can't have someone who has never seen Star Wars re-watch that scene today and get that same sense of "holy crap!" that you got back in 77. That scene with the Star Destroyer was the first movie I ever sat in awe of too (in the theater....5 years old....but I still remember it). That 70's Show even did an episode on that experience, which was basically what it was like for me....just sitting there with my jaw on the floor.

There are 3 other scenes that came close to matching that for me (all seen at the theater when the films were released so they were big leaps forward at the time):
  • The T-1000 walking out of the fire in Terminator 2
  • The reveal of the brontosaurus (and later, the T-Rex) in Jurassic Park
  • The destruction of the cities in Independence Day (actually I think a lot of those were models and real explosions filmed with high-speed cameras but enhanced with CGI and CGI elements if I remember right)
All of those pale by today's standards, but seeing those scenes that really made a jump forward and raised the bar was just jaw-dropping to me at the time. Remember how much hype just that shot in the Superbowl commercial caused around Independence Day?

To a lesser extent, you could throw in Toy Story and some of the HUGE battle sequences in LOTR as something that kindof wowed me.
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post #98 of 190 Old 01-06-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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Even now as young whipper-snapper watching films at home.. I can say that I still went and still go 'holy crap!' when I watch Star Wars. The pan of the X-wings flying by the Red planet (cant recall the name) on the way to the Death Star run still looks so incredibly real to me. A lot of other effects look silly now, but the slow spaceships still look great.

2001 is one I watched recently for the first time and I was wowed by some of its technical effects. Some are still mind-boggling to me (and apparently to current filmmakers interviewed in the special features).

In T2.. I was more impressed with the realism of the Semi chase through the sewers than the T-1000. Youd be hard-pressed imo to realize that the shot of Arnold picking John up off the motorbike and onto his Harley while the Semi was inches away was an effect... it was seamless.

The T-Rex is Jurassic Park is still amazingly realistic, imo and has stood the test of time.
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post #99 of 190 Old 01-06-2010, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan G. View Post

Wow! Sure CGI is better, and the advancements like Avatar, with seamless interactions, are fantastic.

I have, though, a different frame of reference. In the mid-'50s I saw King Kong at a theatre matinee. Big! I hadn't seen anything like that before and I was astounded! I was young, used to black and white TV, so it all seemed real. I've carried that with me all my life. Is Kong more realistic in the new version? Yes. But, the original had an other-worldly quality that seemed even more fantastic. Plus I am still amazed that O'Brien could interject emotion into those models. And you know the composite shots were groundbreaking. I still prefer that version.

Then came Harryhausen's "7th Voyage of Sinbad". I saw it when it first came out and everyone was talking about it. Everyone! Creatures we hadn't imagined brought to life. Sure it was hyper-real and a period piece, making it an absolute fantasy. But what a lasting impression that made. I could hardly wait for the next Harryhausen film (every three years!); a lifelong fan.

Those are impressions I'll never forget, even after seeing the latest technical innovations. I would never put the new stuff down, certainly see the leap, so maybe it's more emotional than anything. I would expect the same for kids today.

In a way, James Cameron has come full circle as well. In 1984 Cameron was basicly an unknown, and was making a little film called The Terminator. He paid a visual effects firm (Fantasy II Film Effects) for miniature work (the semi-trailer crash used a 4 foot truck model) and stop-motion animation (for the Terminator skeleton that limped out of the flames). The lead visual effects tech was Doug Beswick, who was taught by Ray Harryhausen.

Now it's 2010 and Cameron has the state of the art visual effects picture, Avatar. In between, he gave us Aliens(1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), True Lies (1994), and Titanic (1997).

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post #100 of 190 Old 01-06-2010, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

Even now as young whipper-snapper watching films at home.. I can say that I still went and still go 'holy crap!' when I watch Star Wars. The pan of the X-wings flying by the Red planet (cant recall the name) on the way to the Death Star run still looks so incredibly real to me. A lot of other effects look silly now, but the slow spaceships still look great.

The "red planet" was Yavin - the rebels were on it's 4th moon that looks a lot like S. America. There's your SW geek trivia for the day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

In T2.. I was more impressed with the realism of the Semi chase through the sewers than the T-1000. Youd be hard-pressed imo to realize that the shot of Arnold picking John up off the motorbike and onto his Harley while the Semi was inches away was an effect... it was seamless.

Not so seamless? The WAY obvious (esp in HD) stunt double with the Arnold makeup/mask riding said chopper in a few shots in that same scene. CG head swapping had yet to take off back then (silly as it was, I kinda dug the CG Arnie in Terminator Salvation).

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

The T-Rex is Jurassic Park is still amazingly realistic, imo and has stood the test of time.

Agreed! And the CG & animatronic versions used in that film blend together very nicely.

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post #101 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 09:13 AM
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This was put out a month ago from a CGI artist named Alex Roman and the piece is called " The Third & The Seventh". Get a chance to check this out in Fullscreen and HD. This is probably the most impressive piece of work I have ever seen.


Cant embed the video but check it out here

http://vimeo.com/7809605?hd=1

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post #102 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 09:22 AM
 
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^^ Wow that is astounding. Reminds me about an article I read of what James Cameron should've done with his revolutionary technology in Avatar... great read:

http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/fea...avatar-cgi.php
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post #103 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post

This was put out a month ago from a CGI artist named Alex Roman and the piece is called " The Third & The Seventh". Get a chance to check this out in Fullscreen and HD. This is probably the most impressive piece of work I have ever seen.


Cant embed the video but check it out here

http://vimeo.com/7809605?hd=1

Pfft.. Could've been done better in stop motion animation or claymation! CGI lacks a soul and is killing the artistry in moviemaking.

[/sarcasm.]
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post #104 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 10:58 AM
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I haven't seen Avatar, just the trailers. To me, the CGI looks like a video game.

Regarding the OP.
I applaud special effects which enhance or augment the story and appear seamless. I fear eventually CGI movies will become the normal method of making movies. Already my movie options have been reduced by all the animated/CGI (cartoons) and I see this trend further reducing my options to see live actors. For reasons, maybe unique to me, I'm unable to relate, appreciate, sympathize, root for or against carton/animated/CGI characters.

Yeah, I'm an old fart. I'm not saying what I don't like is empirically wrong and should be abandon. I'm just not thrilled.
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post #105 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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I wiiish video games looked as good as Avatar. You should look at the Avatar video game itself.. incomparable lol.
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post #106 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raaj View Post

Pfft.. Could've been done better in stop motion animation or claymation! CGI lacks a soul and is killing the artistry in moviemaking.

I'm not sure if you meant it or were being sarcastic, but I agree with that statement.

Thanks to the over reliance on CGI to generate "excitment" in the form of empty calorie eye-candy rather than by way of cinematic technique, we are delivered an endless series of points of view that no human being in the real world behind a camera or even utilizing man-made fantasy miniatures/models could possibly provide.

Therefore, there is no human "eye" of the camera, no relationship to a film composer in the real world delivering a point of view that is anchored in that real world and, most importantly, restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world. I believe that's where the lack of soul and humanity comes in. And, again, I'm talking about an over reliance or, say, over celebration of the tricks one can perform with CGI.

The CGI images are a "cute" trick and a lower level one. And I'm not saying the result cannot be considered art of a kind. But if you're truly more WOWED by those plexi-glass cubes on the third floor of the museum than the Rembrandts on the second floor, then CGI is definitely for you.
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post #107 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 12:25 PM
 
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You realize youre criticizing a literal work of film art used to demonstrate cutting edge CGI? He's not really trying to 'tell a story'..
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post #108 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 12:42 PM
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[quote=mproper;17862144]In order for scenes like these to be "special" they really had to be experienced at the time in the theater. You can't have someone who has never seen Star Wars re-watch that scene today and get that same sense of "holy crap!" that you got back in 77. That scene with the Star Destroyer was the first movie I ever sat in awe of too (in the theater....5 years old....but I still remember it). That 70's Show even did an episode on that experience, which was basically what it was like for me....just sitting there with my jaw on the floor.


totally agree. i also found the scene showing the imperial walkers to be astounding in empire.

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post #109 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

Thanks to the over reliance on CGI to generate "excitment" in the form of empty calorie eye-candy rather than by way of cinematic technique, we are delivered an endless series of points of view that no human being in the real world behind a camera or even utilizing man-made fantasy miniatures/models could possibly provide.

Therefore, there is no human "eye" of the camera, no relationship to a film composer in the real world delivering a point of view that is anchored in that real world and, most importantly, restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world. I believe that's where the lack of soul and humanity comes in. And, again, I'm talking about an over reliance or, say, over celebration of the tricks one can perform with CGI.

:sigh:

How is the shower scene in Psycho, in which the camera is placed in a hundred strange angles that no human perspective could possibly see from, somehow less "restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world"? Because a physical camera could fit there, that makes it OK, even though it does not in any way attempt to replicate an actual human P.O.V.?

Models and miniatures, or composite effects that create completely artificial and abstract points of view are "anchored in the real world", but animating in the same effect with CGI isn't? How does that make sense?

CGI is just a tool, the same as any other special effect technology or filmmaking technique. It can be used well, or used badly.

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post #110 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

I'm not sure if you meant it or were being sarcastic, but I agree with that statement.

Thanks to the over reliance on CGI to generate "excitment" in the form of empty calorie eye-candy rather than by way of cinematic technique, we are delivered an endless series of points of view that no human being in the real world behind a camera or even utilizing man-made fantasy miniatures/models could possibly provide.

Therefore, there is no human "eye" of the camera, no relationship to a film composer in the real world delivering a point of view that is anchored in that real world and, most importantly, restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world. I believe that's where the lack of soul and humanity comes in. And, again, I'm talking about an over reliance or, say, over celebration of the tricks one can perform with CGI.

The CGI images are a "cute" trick and a lower level one. And I'm not saying the result cannot be considered art of a kind. But if you're truly more WOWED by those plexi-glass cubes on the third floor of the museum than the Rembrandts on the second floor, then CGI is definitely for you.

I am sorry if you missed the [/sarcasm] tag at the end of my previous post.

I don't understand the dismissive attitude just because something had been created on.. GASP!! *a computer* rather than using physical objects (on canvas, on paper, on stone, etc.)

The linked CG movie on Vimeo is no less remarkable and artistic than a Rembrandt. *Ohh.. blasphemy!!*
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post #111 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 01:34 PM
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Don't think this has been mentioned, but heard a great interview on public radio's Fresh Air program with George Lucas. He has a new book out and he talked about a lot of things including the various developements in special effects. It was fascinating so I ordered the book. Here is a link to amazon...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006..._ya_oh_product
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post #112 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 01:44 PM
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[quote=mr. wally;17873414]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mproper View Post

In order for scenes like these to be "special" they really had to be experienced at the time in the theater. You can't have someone who has never seen Star Wars re-watch that scene today and get that same sense of "holy crap!" that you got back in 77. That scene with the Star Destroyer was the first movie I ever sat in awe of too (in the theater....5 years old....but I still remember it). That 70's Show even did an episode on that experience, which was basically what it was like for me....just sitting there with my jaw on the floor.


totally agree. i also found the scene showing the imperial walkers to be astounding in empire.

I guess it depends. I was a 20 year old, sci fi and movie geek when I went to see Star Wars and I wasn't blown away. So the post above got me thinking about why. And I decided that it was because my special effects benchmark at the time was 2001 which also had great miniatures, compositing, and matte work. That got me thinking about what I considered the benchmark special effects films where I felt I had seen something new and that it set a benchmark for films to follow. The list I came up with is:

2001 (1968) Even with the technology at the time stuff just looks real
Blade Runner (1982) Set the bar for immersive vision of a dystopian future
Jurassic Park (1993) Realistic CGI creatures
Starship Troopers (1997) CGI bugs, bug battles, and space battles still stand up today
Matrix 1 (1999) Bullet time plus
Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (2001) Full animation beginning to approach the look of live action
LOTR 1 (2001) CGI fantasy creatures on a large scale and mass battle scenes
Avatar (2009)

To me, many of the films between those benchmarks just seemed to carry the technology forward. Thoughts?

Edit: Didn't include comments on Avatar since it's been argued to death on the other thread from both sides.

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post #113 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 01:50 PM
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[quote=Jim S;17873999]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. wally View Post


I guess it depends. I was a 20 year old, sci fi and movie geek when I went to see Star Wars and I wasn't blown away. So the post above got me thinking about why. And I decided that it was because my special effects benchmark at the time was 2001 which also had great miniatures, compositing, and matte work. That got me thinking about what I considered the benchmark special effects films where I felt I had seen something new and that it set a benchmark for films to follow. The list I came up with is:

2001 (1968) Even with the technology at the time stuff just looks real
Blade Runner (1982) Set the bar for immersive vision of a dystopian future
Jurassic Park (1993) Realistic CGI creatures
Starship Troopers (1997) CGI bugs, bug battles, and space battles still stand up today
Matrix 1 (1999) Bullet time plus
Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (2001) Full animation beginning to approach the look of live action
LOTR 1 (2001) CGI fantasy creatures on a large scale and mass battle scenes
Avatar (2009)

To me, many of the films between those benchmarks just seemed to carry the technology forward. Thoughts?

Edit: Didn't include comments on Avatar since it's been argued to death on the other thread from both sides.

Lucas talked about 2001, Star Wars, Jurrasic Park in his interview with the various developments in each (along with others). He mentioned 2001 as setting a standard for its day. What was so fascinating was the types of different special effects that were used. He says though that now you can do pretty much anything with CGI and computers....mentioning Avatar. Fun Stuff.
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post #114 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post

Don't think this has been mentioned, but heard a great interview on public radio's Fresh Air program with George Lucas. He has a new book out and he talked about a lot of things including the various developements in special effects. It was fascinating so I ordered the book. Here is a link to amazon...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006..._ya_oh_product

Lucas was promoting this book the other night on The Daily Show, as well. Sounds like an interesting read.

Money does not buy happiness. It can, however, buy you a giant boat that you can pull up alongside happiness. - David Lee Roth

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post #115 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

:sigh:

How is the shower scene in Psycho, in which the camera is placed in a hundred strange angles that no human perspective could possibly see from, somehow less "restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world"? Because a physical camera could fit there, that makes it OK, even though it does not in any way attempt to replicate an actual human P.O.V.?

Models and miniatures, or composite effects that create completely artificial and abstract points of view are "anchored in the real world", but animating in the same effect with CGI isn't? How does that make sense?

CGI is just a tool, the same as any other special effect technology or filmmaking technique. It can be used well, or used badly.

Very true. "Bad" CGI can look as dated & unintentionally funny as bad model/minuature/matte painting comp FX. In some cases it can even take you out of the movie moreso than bad traditional FX.

But to look at something like Avatar, where the CG stuff is not only in every single frame, but is to the eye, giving the viewer actual living, breathing...REAL looking things & environments that simply cannot & do not exist anywhere on Earth to be filmed w/ the "camera's eye"....how does this lack the "soul" of rubber puppets, models, matte paintings, etc?

Both Jar Jar Binks & Gollum & the environments they existed in were impressive tech advancements in cinematic CG in the last 10-15 yrs (albeit w/ radically different results in term of the opinions of them in their respective films). Cameron's Na'vi on Pandora are a massive leap over even those & never appear for a moment to have a rubbery "CG" quality about them - something both SW & LOTR creatures occasionally had. Pandora may as well be a real place, 'cause it sure as Hell looked like Cameron found it, got a film crew there, hired the local ThunderSmurfs to be in it & then yelled "action".

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post #116 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 02:55 PM
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Heh, Thundersmurfs.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
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post #117 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Edgecrusher View Post

This was put out a month ago from a CGI artist named Alex Roman and the piece is called " The Third & The Seventh". Get a chance to check this out in Fullscreen and HD. This is probably the most impressive piece of work I have ever seen.

That's pretty sic.

BTW, I saw on the news early this morning where some certain individuals are really hatin' on Cameron's movie. I'm not even his biggest fan, but I bet not one of those cats could write a better story.

I'm sort of an artist (and I also write a little), but until I can put out product better than Avatar, I'll just stay silent. Well, perhaps I could produce a better premise, but the visuals....not. a. chance.

"I knew you'd say that"...*BLAM!*
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post #118 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jwebb1970 View Post

'cause it sure as Hell looked like Cameron found it, got a film crew there, hired the local ThunderSmurfs to be in it & then yelled "action".

Now that was funny.

Stephen.

Chances are very good that I was drinking when I posted the above.

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post #119 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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For those of you seemingly needing a stop-motion fix..
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post #120 of 190 Old 01-07-2010, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

:sigh:

How is the shower scene in Psycho, in which the camera is placed in a hundred strange angles that no human perspective could possibly see from, somehow less "restricted by a level of human limitation shared by us in that real world"? Because a physical camera could fit there, that makes it OK, even though it does not in any way attempt to replicate an actual human P.O.V.?

*sigh*
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

...we are delivered an endless series of points of view that no human being in the real world behind a camera or even utilizing man-made fantasy miniatures/models could possibly provide.

Not "could possibly see from".

READ, Josh. Don't interpret. You're really crappy at it.

A REAL camera was placed in all of the places you mentioned...because it could be placed there and operated by a real human being. This isn't true of the other-worldy impression made by a prolonged, free-floating CGI effect where 90% of the movie was shot in a blue sound stage.
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