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photorealistic CG


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#1 Filip Plesha

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 06:40 PM

Hi

Just wondering..

Has anyone here seen a CG creature of any sort (far away objects don't count) that you thought was realistic? In other words, you couldn't figure out wheather it was real or not , or in case of imaginary creatures you couldn't say wheather it was a real material (like a puppet) or not?
Motion signs also don't count, I'm talking about the realism of a static image on film.

So, did you ever get fooled?
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#2 Chance Shirley

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 10:35 PM

I'm not generally a fan of CG creatures, but I was impressed with Kong in Jackson's KING KONG. First CG monster that made me think "maybe there's something to this whole computer effects thing..."
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#3 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 12:38 AM

it's highly likely that you have, but just don't know it... the best vfx are the ones that are invisible.
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:24 AM

If you can tell it's CGI it isn't great CGI. Ithere is CGI everyware you'll never know is CGI. Look at Forces of Nature, It's filled w/ CGI most of which you'll never know is there. The problem w/ most movie "creatures" is that these creatures don'r really exist so naturally they don't look real. Gollum in the Lord of the Rings was marvalous mainly because of the motion capture of Andy Circus' excellent life proformance. There are CGI creatures in that movie. You tell me where they are. I have to admit the stuff in Lord of the Rings and the Matrix trilogies were extrodenary. Look at the Lion and other creatures in the The Chronicles of Narnia. They are incredible, in fact if the lion had done only thing a lion does, I sincerely doubt if you would be able to tto twll it wasn't a lion. Does be so cynical, CGI is getting incredable and will get to the point were you won't be able to tell the difference at all. Simone will become reality eventually, Hell John Wayne and Steve McQueen have both recently done TV commercials and they've been dead for years, how sick is that when you really think about it.!
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#5 Kai.w

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:29 AM

Interesting question. Although I work in this field, I'm a bit uncertain. There are of course a lot of small things that get absolutely unnoticed. But for the ovious stuff its rather seldom that I really believe in it. Usually its not the creature itself that looks fake but rather that it somehow does not fit into the context of the image. Good example is Gollum where in the wide shots, in which he had contact to the ground etc, I simply did not take it for real. There is always this "roger rabbit" feeling that this thing simply was not present when the image was shot. Its much easier in the closeups where you just have an out of focus background. Here I must say there have been a few shots where I actually thought Gollum was a living creature.
Thanks to the growing computer power its just recently became (economicly) possible to mimic the way light interacts in the real world. You definately see these advances.
I also have the feeling that directors also have some influence. To me it seems that some directors such as Spielberg and Fincher seem to put out more realistic stuff, (maybe due to a more sceptical attitude)? whereas others seem to think everything is possible (which only in theory is true).

Another intersting aspect. I always hated the cg creatures in the new star wars movies. They always seemed to fall much behind all these real puppets and costumes of the old movies, where I actually had the feeling they were present.
However I just recently, after years, watched the old movies again and was a bit shocked. The old yoda simply looked like a puppet. I could not take him for granted anymore. The mechanical way his ears seemed to move, the limited expressions of his face. I cannot believe there was a time I accepted that. Also lot of the mattepaintings in the old movies now looked flat and a bit cheap to me.
I'm still in disbelieve about my impression but maybe we do actually get used to the look of cg creatures. The CG environments in the last two star wars movies have been absolutely amazing. The sunset over that city in EPIII simply blew me away. And if you watch it digitally (projected or dvd) all the CG stuff seems to work much better.

-k
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#6 Filip Plesha

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:36 AM

A puppet may not look like a real creature in its motion, but is a real object, and looks like something real at least, while CG doesn't have the presence of a real material, plastic, rubber or skin, whatever.
The people that made Yoda, not only didn't make it look like a live creature, but couldn't make it look like a real puppet either. It's just that this rendering doesn't seem to nail the way light falls on real materials

And I'm not being a purist. When I first saw the trailer for EP2 I did not know the Yoda was going to be CG, but then I saw it on screen for the first time, and I went like: You've got to be kidding me!

The thing is, there is no such thing as a real Yoda, but I'd rather watch a real puppet than a CG drawing that doesn't even look like a puppet. Either way you may not get a real Yoda, but hey, puppet movies are movies too (Muppets in Manhattan), while CG is not even something real being photographed.
Though Yoda in SW makes for an excelent screensaver

Edited by Filip Plesha, 09 May 2006 - 06:39 AM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 11:04 AM

For me, the T-Rex attack at night in "Jurassic Park" is still the best blending of mechanical effects and CGI for a creature - the night and rain helped a lot to blend the differences, plus the fact that the closer work was generally the mechanical puppet. But considering that it is an early example of a CGI creature, it works remarkably well.

The recent King Kong was also a well-done CGI creature with some feeling of mass to it. That and Gollum are probably the best acting by CGI if you forget the Pixar animated films like "The Incredibles."
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#8 Adam White

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 12:14 PM

Both "King Kong" and "LOTR" were real advancements for CGI actors. Most of it because they concentrated on conveying emotions and expressions so well. If you empathise with a character then it "becomes" real.

Likewise the T-Rex, yes it was produced well but it was used so effectivley that you could help get sucked in to accepting it.

less said about "The Scorpion King" the better. . .

Edited by Ad8m, 09 May 2006 - 12:15 PM.

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#9 Matt Pacini

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:49 PM

If you can tell it's CGI it isn't great CGI.


I disagree. You're watching a movie, and a T-Rex steps into the frame, you can be pretty sure they didn't get a real one, and the movements they can do with CG, that are impossible with models, mean you can know it's CGI, but still it looks realistic.

I'd have to agree with the above post; that T-Rex breaking out of the fence at night in the rain is stil about the most convincing I've ever seen. They really got everything right.
Amazing, given it was over a decade ago.

The stuff that really leaps out at me as being fake, is this stuff I see all the time that looks kinda washed out - like it's lacking in contrast, too much fill, etc.
My CGI genius friend told me that Renderman is responsible for most of that, that it shades poorly, doesn't do bump mapping well, etc..

MP
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 02:08 PM

It's like what Richard Edlund said a long time ago when someone said that the Bespin Cloud City shots in "Empire" where not completely believable and he said that you have a huge problem to overcome because every audience member knows you didn't build a futuristic city in the clouds so they know it's all faked no matter what you do.
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#11 Mike Kaminski

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 02:30 PM

I still think Jurrassic Park is one of the best examples of CGI. Its incredible how well that film has held up. The T-Rex attack the Raptor kitchen sequence are 100% believable. Usually the only time i know "okay this shot is CG" is because there is no way a puppet could be doing the motion or subtlety that is onscreen. The insertion of the animatronics went a long way too but most the time i am amazed that the CG looks identical to the puppets, and the puppets looked 100% real. What an achievement that film was.
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#12 Filip Plesha

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 03:39 PM

Well, even I have to admit that Jurassic Park looked great in terms of CG, but I think it equally has to do with directing and cinematography of both the plates and CG elements, as it has to do with the actuall rendering.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 05:48 PM

Well, even I have to admit that Jurassic Park looked great in terms of CG, but I think it equally has to do with directing and cinematography of both the plates and CG elements, as it has to do with the actuall rendering.


Well, that's ALWAYS true of effects work, even with non-CGI stuff like miniatures -- photography and direction are important for that slight-of-hand trick of distracting the audience away from what is not real.

The question for "Jurassic Park" is would their original approach to creating the T-Rex, which was stop motion puppetry -- have been as photo-realistic and believable as CGI. Obviously from their testing, they decided that the CGI version was more believable to the eye. And a full-scale walking mechanical/hydraulic T-Rex puppet was not possible. And besides CGI or stop-motion/go-motion, what are your alternatives? A guy in a dinosaur suit in scaled-down sets, ala "Godzilla"?

Knowing that a particular shot HAS to be faked in some way, whether matte paintings, miniatures, CGI, whatever, the question is which will yield the best results while allowing some creative flexibility (like camera movement if desired, or incorporating live action elements.) My only problem with CGI is when I feel that some other approach would have been more believable, like live-action mechanics or large-scale miniatures. But sometimes CGI makes the most sense all-around.
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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:15 PM

David, I'm just curious, Have you ever shot for CG, greenscreen and minatures on a large-ish picture and if so what are some of the things you can relate to us in the way of technique and problems you had or what every you think was interesting.
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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:35 PM

Hi,

I'll second, or third, the Jurassic Park reference. I've still no real idea how they got it that good that early, other than the simple application of raw skill. The only downside is that possibly the poorest stuff is the first stuff you see, with the large herbivorous dinosaurs in the field - but that's completely revealed, bright sunlight, absolutely the most taxing imaginable circumstances.

For similar reasons a lot of the stuff in Starship Troopers gets a mention.

Phil
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:41 PM

No, I've only had a few low-budget efx in my features with a small amount of greenscreen work. On the last one, we had to use some efx to fake someone getting hit by a car on camera with no cuts.

"D.E.B.S." had a number of HD efx shots in it, not always photo-realistic but the movie is meant to be cartoonish to some degree.

The trouble with efx in low-budget films is that the low-budget efx houses are almost entirely set-up to do only CGI, so they always see that as the first solution to a problem, while something like miniatures or make-up efx, for example, being last choices and more expensive alternatives that have to be contracted outside. I did a movie with a terrible CGI exploding house shot that should have been done with a miniature and pyro.

However, when I was younger, I studied (on my own) visual efx as a possible career, pre-CGI, so I'm fairly well-versed on those older techniques. I've even painted and shot some fake star fields over airbrushed landscapes for a few low-budget movies. A long time ago, I built some miniatures for a USC project with some efx in it.
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#17 Filip Plesha

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 06:43 PM

Well, that's ALWAYS true of effects work, even with non-CGI stuff like miniatures -- photography and direction are important for that slight-of-hand trick of distracting the audience away from what is not real.

The question for "Jurassic Park" is would their original approach to creating the T-Rex, which was stop motion puppetry -- have been as photo-realistic and believable as CGI. Obviously from their testing, they decided that the CGI version was more believable to the eye. And a full-scale walking mechanical/hydraulic T-Rex puppet was not possible. And besides CGI or stop-motion/go-motion, what are your alternatives? A guy in a dinosaur suit in scaled-down sets, ala "Godzilla"?

Knowing that a particular shot HAS to be faked in some way, whether matte paintings, miniatures, CGI, whatever, the question is which will yield the best results while allowing some creative flexibility (like camera movement if desired, or incorporating live action elements.) My only problem with CGI is when I feel that some other approach would have been more believable, like live-action mechanics or large-scale miniatures. But sometimes CGI makes the most sense all-around.



The way I see it there are 3 aspects of creature animation realism: realism of motion, photorealism and realism of the material

#1 is motion, in which CG can be perfected to the point where it feels like a real creature or whatever object is in question. I think Yoda was animated quite well, I did buy its motion.
I've never really had a problem with that part

#2 is photorealism. This is something where puppetry and stop animation has zero problems, because you are not emulating photography, but are doing photography.
By default puppet work is photorealistic, simply because it IS a photo.

#3 And then there is the object itself, which is a common problem for both CG and puppetry.
You can make a poor CG model and you can also make a poor puppet.
Exept that a puppet by default gets a look of a real object, even if it is not the object it was supose to be, it IS a real object with all its imperfections.
While with CG you have to work HARD simply to get to the point where your model looks like ANY real object

CG's greatest advantage is controling the first aspect, and that is motion.

The greatest advantage of stop-motion is inherent photorealism. Even if you use
a potato to be a head of an alien. It will look like a potato, yes, but it will be 100% photorealistic, because you DO have a photograph of a potato, not a rendering.

If they made JP with stop-motion, the action would never be beliavable, the photorealism would be a default, and the realism of the object would depend on their skill with emulating materials.
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#18 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 07:06 AM

Jessica Rabbit.

B)
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#19 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 01:12 PM

Jessica Rabbit.


---Sorry.
Hand animated. Pencil on paper. Traced or Xerox®ed onto cels. Manipulated in optical printer for shading.

---LV
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