It is currently Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:44 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 42 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Author Message
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 12:08 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
I guess I'm an old fogey -- I think the "realest" looking science fiction movie I've ever seen is (still) 2001.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 12:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:20 am
Location: Guernsey
I have yet to see the new Mad Max, but I remember seeing Die Another Day when it came out - and considering the series' reputation for stunts this has relevance here - the horrible CGI surfing sequence got booed... I can't think of any other Special Effects sequence to get such an audible reaction. There have been a few that have come close (the bungee jump in Waterworld, the ending of The Golden Compass), but that was easily the most notable.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:36 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm
Quote:
I can't think of any other Special Effects sequence to get such an audible reaction.


I never saw Die Another Day, but I remember seeing The Mummy Returns in 2001 and the CGI Scorpion King at the end of that film got loud "boos" and "ughs" from practically the entire packed theater.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 2:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
jindianajonz wrote:
There are also rare times where the effort that goes into creating a practical effect is immense enough that it enhances the movie itself- would Fitzcarraldo really be the same movie if they had just CGI'ed the ship over the mountain? Or would Apocalypse Now have the same heft if they had just green screened southeast Asia into the movie?

Or the burning castle in Ran, a real construction destroyed just for the film.
Michael Kerpan wrote:
I guess I'm an old fogey -- I think the "realest" looking science fiction movie I've ever seen is (still) 2001.

Yes, but those were simpler times. Just think of all of those babies launched into space just so Kubrick could get the perfect final shot! There'd be an outcry if they tried to do that now!

Sorry for the following comments, this is more of a stream of consciousness post than anything much deeper than that:

This does not seem like a black or white debate, although I think we know on which side of the debate the Alamo Drafthouse stands! I completely agree that seeing events staged for real adds a sense of verisimilitude that you don't get from CG, especially dangerous stunts, enormous crowd scenes or big spectacles. It also gives the actors something to play against, and the other members of the production something tangible to focus on (quite literally in the case of the camera crew!), and there is a craft and skill on display in effects or stunts that can more often than not define the film, with Rick Baker or Tom Savini's effects perhaps being as big a draw as the director or cast! The comparison that I'd always bring up in this debate is to compare and contrast between the celebrated practical effects in An American Werewolf In London and the early CG in An American Werewolf In Paris. I think Paris ends up being quite a good film, but it is entirely hobbled by this very issue of being a CG sequel to a practical original.

Ray Harryhausen might be a good name to bring up here in that he produced, like the CG artists today, effects to augment the filmed action. Though his models still bore traces of 'reality' in the moving fur or tactile qualities of the stop-motion which added a sense of physicality to the effects that just isn't there to the same direct extent in CGI (Which was also one of the reasons why it always seemed crazy to me when Aardman Animations briefly tried to do CG-claymation films, presumably a decision more dictated by producing works quicker and on a budget than anything else). Perhaps even more importantly though, he created key sequences in the films that he worked on and was able to stamp his mark on his work, to such an extent that the name of Ray Harryhausen probably has more weight than the name of the actual directors of the films he worked on!

I think there is the same level of craft in the best CGI too, but one of the big problems feels to be that computer graphics hasn't got to the stage of producing a 'name' technician who has a hand in creating, say, all of the CGI effects on a specific well known director's films. Someone who people could point towards and be able to say "well Christopher Nolan always uses this person because they produce the best looking CGI particle effects on explosions", or "this person produces the most life-like dinosaurs in Jurassic World" and so on. I think that is a lot due to the way that tapping at a computer screen sort of looks the same whether you are a master of the art or not (think of the trouble that cinema has had in trying to depict the creation process of any artist, particularly a painter), whereas someone pouring latex over an actor's head or creating a spaceship out of styrofoam is actually producing a physical object that can be seen being formed in front of your eyes. There is a sculptural quality to effects work on display, not to mention an engineering one in producing something that will work practically for a specific purpose, that is perhaps more immediately graspable.

However we are still at the 'nebulous anonymity' stage of CGI, in the sense that we know that shots are tendered out to dedicated studios to produce with teams of technicians, and then the various completed shots come back ready to be slotted into the film. That can lead to some of the jarring feel to the effects too. There can feel like less of a sense of collaboration between the filmmaker and their technicians in this area, with many filmmakers generally seeming to be at the mercy of the results of any particular CGI artist's handiwork as to whether the shot will fit seamlessly or look pasted on. Once we get a CGI artist-turned-director (like those Sky Captain people perhaps!) then the effects will integrate better. Although then the story itself might end up suffering as a consequence!

And the story suffering is the next issue. I remember back to when films were straining at the limits of their imaginations. It felt painful to see films struggling to produce practical effects that would convey even a fraction of the filmmaker's ambition, and so I can't completely subscribe to how wonderful everything was when it was 'real', even though it is nice to be nostalgic about it! When films such as Tron came along it seemed as if they could only do so much, and go so far into their world, with the technology available but the imagination and intent was there and far grander. The CGI revolution needed to come along to allow more freedom to envisage anything, to allow for The Lord of the Rings, to free the camera into being a 'virtual' one, allowing it to fluidly move through time and space in The Matrix and so on. But that absolute freedom also removed any hard and fast ties to a physical reality.

Once anything became possible the onus was on the filmmakers to constrain themselves rather than pushing up against limitations, and that I think was what led to that era of the crazy, over the top, glorying in CGI spectacle. Filmmakers seeing what worked and what didn't, what audiences would accept and what they wouldn't (even great directors fell foul of this: I'm thinking of Paul Verhoeven in Hollow Man replacing the real breast with a CGI one that he could manipulate with obvious pride and pleasure! Which felt a bit naughty even for Verhoeven, and sadly Hollow Man felt overwhelmed by visual effects which played their part in compromising any dark irony by bluntly literalising everything. Everything could be shown but that left the film itself empty). It helps that the technology has gotten better too, but it feels that the guiding hand of someone knowing what kind of imagery that they want to see, and for what purpose it is needed for in the finished film, is needed more than ever now. Otherwise you can go on embellishing, adding and manipulating imagery endlessly (or at least until the budget runs out!) without any concrete idea of how it will eventually look or any goal in mind. In some ways, while I like the film a lot, if feels to me as if I could see Wong Kar-Wai doing this in 2046 in trying to use the CGI in the future scenes in a kind of abstract, un-focused and romantic manner, which is interesting to compare to The Grandmaster in which the CGI feels more purposefully embedded into key moments of its action sequences.

In the end though if the imagery serves the story well, I don't mind too much if it is practical or CG. I love video games and they are entirely computer graphically created, even if something like The Order: 1886 seems to be trying desperately not to be! (I've just realised that I've brought up three werewolf-themed works in order to talk about special effects!). If the story is engaging and the effects are used in such a way as to bring me into a world or give me a perspective on the everyday world that I would never otherwise see, I say go for it (For example I'm very curious to see how Everybody's Gone To The Rapture or Firewatch turn out) But a real-world grounding of the way objects look and function, even if that 'reality' is then warped or discarded for something more fantastical, would seem to be just as crucial for a CGI artist and the filmmakers using CG as they would be for anyone producing a practical effect and putting such effect to use in their film.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:29 pm, edited 10 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 3:39 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:41 am
colinr0380 wrote:
jindianajonz wrote:
There are also rare times where the effort that goes into creating a practical effect is immense enough that it enhances the movie itself- would Fitzcarraldo really be the same movie if they had just CGI'ed the ship over the mountain? Or would Apocalypse Now have the same heft if they had just green screened southeast Asia into the movie?


Or the burning castle in Ran, a real construction destroyed just for the film.


But aren't these kind of examples unfair play, given that there was no truly comparable option to CGI effects--as we refer to them today, at least--at the times these films were made? (Soderbergh's experiences with digital cinematography while shooting Che might be close to this kind of off-the-grid filmmaking--which was made feasible by digital filmmaking equipment...so, again...)

I don't know. Strange, though, that the movies cited as paragons of practicality are some of the best films ever made while the examples of digital fakery happen to be some of the worst. (Excuse the hyperbole there, please.) Suggesting that Episode I would have been better with more practical effects--if that's what we're taking "fewer digital effects" to mean--doesn't wash, even beyond the amount of speculation of it requires. Some movies just can't be salvaged.

We've been circling the breakdown of verisimilitude as well, which I think is more closely related to how digital effects work in films, but verisimilitude--and whether a film does or doesn't have it--isn't solely attributable to a film's use of digital or practical effects, it's a result of the combination of a given film's stylistic elements, and the viewer's subjective perception of that combination at that.

So what I'm beginning to think is that complaints about bad effects, like complaints about other bad technical elements of filmmaking, is to some extent a placeholder criticism: something that points to a greater flaw in the film's conception or cinematic design. Less charitably: shorthand or scapegoating for when more exact words won't quite come. The overwhelmingly false digital realm of the Star Wars prequels is indicative of how charmless and artless the rest of films are, rather than the cause of it.

Our objections to creaky special effects in blockbuster films may in fact be objections to being reminded that these films are first and foremost a commercial product--like complaining about flat soda pop--or that we've become so familiar with the stories they're telling that the quality of the special effects (and the similarly specious belief that practical effects are inherently better) is one of the only thing that we can use to differentiate them.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 3:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
Well the model boat at the end of Fitzcarraldo is pretty bad actually. I don't think it would have been any worse if it was a computer effect, and certainly could have been better.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 4:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
I do in the main agree with you Feiereisel, as I wouldn't criticise Lucas for the prequels per se. Jar Jar Binks was a terrible character but it would have been just as borderline racist if a puppet were doing the same actions! And I really liked scenes from the prequel films that could only have been created through CGI, such as the pod race or the giant urban city planet at the beginning of the second film, though I could not escape the feeling that those sequences were where the interest lay rather than in a particularly engaging story or characters!

Although it is worthwhile (and inevitable!) to bring up George Lucas in this debate due to his interest in going back and adding 'modern CGI' to his older films. Although the issue there (and to some extent Spielberg with the walkie talkie replacements in E.T.) was that he was tinkering with already released films and suppressing the unmanipulated versions. The CG was egregious but at least in the re-releasing of the original trilogy that was folded more into the dismay of seeing someone unable to leave his work alone and ruining it with extra doodles in the process. I don't really have strong feelings one way or the other about the Star Wars films, though none of the embellishments there felt at all necessary, but I was more annoyed by the same treatment being given to THX-1138, something which not only seemed to disprove the argument used for the Star Wars films that they were being modernised to bring them in line with the technology on display in the prequels by being used on an unrelated film, but also in the way that all of the wide shots seemed to be actively in opposition with the original intimate philosophy behind the film itself! Especially the way that the original 'antithesis of a car chase' scene got the addition of a dodging traffic intro! Plus the way that motorcycle crashing into the car, in which a stunt person was really injured but gave their permission for it to be kept in, gets rather undermined by all of the CGI people running and jumping around just beforehand!

It left me feeling that it was almost as if Lucas had a complete change of philosophy at some point in the mid-1980s and went back and tried to impose his new way of thinking onto his older work, as if to try and 'correct' it!

Here's a video of comparisons between the original 1971 and 2004 'Director's Cut' of THX-1138


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat May 23, 2015 6:58 am, edited 4 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 4:18 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
My issue with the use of CGI is that it's a toolbox that allows potentially infinite creativity, but 99.9% of its application is crushingly impoverished in terms of imagination, amounting to "bigger / cheaper / easier practical effects": you get a horde of 100,000 instead of 500. Big deal. I'd rather see filmmakers create worlds that defy physics, or put on film things that would be impossible to achieve with practical effects. Astonish us.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 4:24 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
What, like this?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 4:45 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:39 pm
Location: Los Angeles
If we're talking about CGI in general, most of the CGI in movies is "very good animation" to me. If it takes place in the realm of fantasy or sci-fi where I have nothing to compare it to I let it go and enjoy it. When it happens in the realm of "reality" like Transformers in a real city like Chicago or any of the destruction/apocalypse porn movies I appreciate the effects like I do the artists who make Pixar movies but I'm not invested in the scene.

If there is one director who really utilizes CGI today, it's David Fincher hands down. It wasn't until after I saw The Social Network that I found out he had CGI'd Armie Hammer onto another actor, I actually thought he found real twins. That's how CGI should be used in films.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 7:07 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
swo17 wrote:

Those aren't real giraffes? I'm shattered.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 4:06 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
Matthew Barney seems to have mellowed out quite a bit! :wink: But that video shows the same CGI overkill: why have one giraffe when you can have ten? Where's the old Fantasia magic of just the one hippo doing ballet in a tutu?

While I'm sympathetic to the 'show me something I've never seen before' idea, I think Enter The Void destroyed me in that respect! I went from "You're showing me something I've never seen before!", especially in the early drug trip scene to "Please stop showing me something I've never seen before, as its getting pretty boring" to "No, seriously, don't put the camera in there! At least not without a good reason, and you've proved to me that you don't have one!"

I think it is amusing that the experience of watching BUF's special effects showreel of Enter The Void is a bit more impactful than watching the final film. Perhaps because there is some consciousness and philosophy going into the editing of the footage there (for a goal of showing off the CGI) rather than the shots being drawn out past their point of maximum impact and into a kind of ghostly redundancy as in the film itself!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri May 22, 2015 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 4:41 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:36 pm
David Kalat wrote something a while back (can't find the link now sadly) about the difference between "invisible effects" and "effects as spectacle", and bemoaned people who criticise, say, a man in a Godzilla suit as being "cheesy" or "unrealistic", saying that they've missed the point. To me, both these points are key.

Like many film fans who grew up during what I'd argue was the golden age for special effects film (1977-1993, neatly bookended by Star Wars and Jurassic Park, respectively), my natural loyalty is towards practical effects, be it make-up effects, stop motion, miniatures, etc. There's little doubt that CGI is better for "invisible effects", but there's little to no room anymore to gasp in awe and ask, "How did they do that?!" because the answer's always the same: "Oh, they did it in a computer."


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 5:08 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester
Dylan wrote:
Quote:
I can't think of any other Special Effects sequence to get such an audible reaction.

I never saw Die Another Day, but I remember seeing The Mummy Returns in 2001 and the CGI Scorpion King at the end of that film got loud "boos" and "ughs" from practically the entire packed theater.

It's worth remembering too that the The Mummy Returns is from the same year as the first Lord of the Rings film.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 5:57 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
TMDaines wrote:
Dylan wrote:
Quote:
I can't think of any other Special Effects sequence to get such an audible reaction.

I never saw Die Another Day, but I remember seeing The Mummy Returns in 2001 and the CGI Scorpion King at the end of that film got loud "boos" and "ughs" from practically the entire packed theater.

It's worth remembering too that the The Mummy Returns is from the same year as the first Lord of the Rings film.

And Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 1:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
Sokurov, a huge talent, and a huge blowhard, on CGI. Apparently he's changed his mind since, as The Sun has an extended CGI sequence.

Quote:
P.S.: The roles of painting and film are now starting to merge via computer. There are painters now working with photographed images on the computer. Would that appeal to you, or are you like me: too old to start again?
Sokurov: No. I don't want to let technology overcome me, or penetrate inside, although when we would go through the second cycle of editing, we do it with the help of a computer. If a painting was born as a painting with certain tools being used, I think it should always remain the same. And computer art: is a completely different type of visual art. We're not talking about pure art anymore, we're talking about something else.

P.S.: Whatever manipulation of the image you do occurs at the time that you shoot it, not later in postproduction.
Sokurov: Of course. It's always during the filming. As a director I always have a clear vision of my creation. I usually change the literary basis as well as the script a lot during production, sometimes even the meaning of certain dialogue could change completely. And the meaning of the piece changes with it. I'm trying to create and recreate and recreate again and again. It's important to be constantly on the move. The actual movie could look quite still, but the energy that was put into the filmmaking should be extremely dynamic.

P.S.: In Breaking the Waves Lars von Trier created tableau shots of nature that were computer-manipulated so that the movement of light and shadow was created
Sokurov: I feel sorry for him then.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:07 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am
This video essay does a great job of illustrating how the examples of bad CGI are more obvious and get all the blame, while there are plenty of great examples of CGI that are good and therefore harder to notice and rarely taken into account.

Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn't)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 42 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection