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Special effects section.


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 08:05 PM

I was thinking this forum might benifit from a special effect section, so I am offically petioning the management to add one. Who's with me?!! B)
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 12:01 AM

I was thinking this forum might benifit from a special effect section, so I am offically petioning the management to add one. Who's with me?!! B)


Sure, although "special effects" and "visual effects" usually mean different things in credits (special effects are "floor" effects like explosions, rain, wind, etc. whereas "visual effects" are things like composites, matte paintings, etc.)
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 12:44 AM

Visual FX is what I meant, ALTHOUGH..... the section COULD include "floor" FX if we wanted it to. Filming many "floor" FX probably carries with them, their own set of problems and rules that might be of interest to many filmmakers, including myself. You, for example, having had some expirence filming minatures might be able to go into much greater detail on exactly how you did it than you might in a less directly related section and I for one would love to hear ALL the details so I can learn from what you did.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 20 November 2006 - 12:45 AM.

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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 03:32 AM

What!? NO ONE except David? :blink:
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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 11:22 AM

I would be opposed, VFX guys have ruined the film business. In the old days if you needed 10, 000 camels for a scene, you got 10, 000 camels for the scene.

Now they just paint em' in :(

R,
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 11:39 AM

I would be opposed, VFX guys have ruined the film business. In the old days if you needed 10, 000 camels for a scene, you got 10, 000 camels for the scene.

Damn right!

If nowadays you actually went through the throuble of putting 10.000 camels in a scene, no one would believe they were real...
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#7 John Holland

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 11:49 AM

I agree , also VX people like S35 rather than Anamorphic , it make life easier for them , so we suffer a loss of quality,because of digital fx kids . John Holland, London.
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#8 Harrison Reynolds

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 12:17 PM

I'm don't know all that much about the film business or anything, but I'd like this section too.
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#9 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 01:45 PM

As a soon-to-be-professional visual effects artist, I'd agree that this forum could use a section for effects. I'll try not to ruin films too much for you guys ;)

Also, it would be cool if "Visual Effects" was an option for Jobs in our profiles, so that I don't have to list myself as "Other." Hint-hint, Tim, if you're reading this.
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:30 PM

I agree , also VX people like S35 rather than Anamorphic , it make life easier for them , so we suffer a loss of quality,because of digital fx kids . John Holland, London.


John,

Having seen Max Jocaby's Anamorphic 35mm B&W film 3 weeks ago, and Casino Royale S35 B&W poop on the same cinema screen in Geneva on Wednesday I have to agree!

Stephen
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#11 James Erd

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:55 PM

I would be opposed, VFX guys have ruined the film business. In the old days if you needed 10, 000 camels for a scene, you got 10, 000 camels for the scene.

Now they just paint em' in :(

R,


I disagree on this point. VFX became necessary because no one has a budget for 10,000 camels, and if any one still wants to use camels there's nothing to stop them except the budget. VFX as we know it today is just the evolution of efforts that began moments after the birth of cinema.
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#12 Tim Terner

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 04:57 PM

If the cinematographer can't conjure up the thought of 10000 camels in the viewers minds by using 100 camels then the film is probably not worth watching anyway
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#13 Tim Partridge

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 06:54 PM

I would be opposed, VFX guys have ruined the film business.


Interesting, considering visual effects were actually created by cinematographers to begin with. Double exposures, anyone? Glass shots? Optical printing? Heck, the VFX of both JURASSIC PARK and TERMINATOR 2 are credited to an ASC member.

Virtual cinematography is for real now. Has been for a while. It's a perfectly valid and accepted enhancement of YOUR artform. The 3D realm is here to stay, and you HAVE to know about it to help physically construct the vision of any director using it. It's all about integration, and that's something that goes back to the silent days.

Now they just paint em' in :(

R,


Does the name W Percy Day mean anything to you?

Peter Ellenshaw?

These guys helped get work for cinematographers such as Jack Cardiff and Freddie Young. They were in on the vision and illusion. Jack Cardiff won an Oscar for the matte painting saturated BLACK NARCISSUS, don't you forget.


I am all for this new forum.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 10:27 PM

Special effects have been a part of moviemaking since almost the beginning -- "Citizen Kane" is chock-full of optical printer effects, matte paintings, etc.

Yes, it's true that we've lost something when we just add CGI crowds rather than the real thing, but on the other hand, old movies often had matte painted ceilings rather than the real thing, and half the location work was faked on a soundstage with rear projection, and matte paintings in post... so why is that kind of fakery any less disappointing than using a computer to do it? Hollywood has always used visual tricks to save money or create fantastical scenes.

I don't think we'd be complaining half as much about CGI crowd extensions if they were done more seamlessly.
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#15 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 10:43 PM

Like it or not, we live in a world where animation and live action are integrated into even the nost straight forward of charature driven stories. Skys are enhanced. Vitrtual buildings replace out of place ones. Actors who die during production are albe to finish their preformance with a few re-writes and some VFX trickery. All of these things are a fact of life for the 21st century filmmaker. Not to mention refining the optical FX of the 19th and 20th centuries in the modern era.

I just found out today that most of the soldiers, the city and mayhem in Kingdom of Heaven where virtual, layed in with massive sets. This blew my mind because I thought they ad just gotten someone's army to do the extra work and it NEVER occured to me that these extras were virtual. The physical portion of the set for Jaruseluim (However you spell it) was one of the largest ever built and designed to be shot from any angle, but there was NO WAY they could have built an entire city! VFX are here to stay and they have allowed fimmakers to do thing that are quite litterally inpossible to do any other way. It's a craft we had better start to master if we are going to work in an industry ennindated with it.

Also whats wrong with learning good ol', OLD school FX like miniatures and opticals and what what David refers to as Floor FX? There has to be techniques that are inportant to know and that many people here are un-aware of. This forum can only HELP, not hinder. Anyone who doesn't care to use VFX in their filmmaking whouldn't be forced to read it and should the need ever arrise for them to have need of this knowledge, it would be there for them to reference. I for one would rather have a tool I never use than not have it when I need it. B)
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 12:26 AM

I disagree on this point. VFX became necessary because no one has a budget for 10,000 camels, and if any one still wants to use camels there's nothing to stop them except the budget. VFX as we know it today is just the evolution of efforts that began moments after the birth of cinema.


No budget? How did David Lean do it in "Lawrence Of Arabia?" How where those crowd scenes done for Richard Attenborough's "Ghandi?" It can all be done, we are simply losing the will and the craft to the computer.

Of course that was before one star gobbled up 20 million of the film's budget.

In the movie I'm posting now I used a "real" creature and a real wolf, every thing was done in camera. Some have laughed at this idea when I told them about it, but I think it looks better and definately cost less.

Now as Max Jacoby pointed out, when people see the wolf in my movie they'll say, "who did the wolf for you? it looked quite real." I know it will happen :D

R,
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 12:51 AM

Well, the first movie you make where the script calls for a half-million extras... we'll see how long before you reach for a visual efx solution to augment the 5000 extras you actually were able to get!

I did a movie (D.E.B.S.) where we needed to fill an auditorium with girls dressed alike in school uniforms -- we only managed to fill one-third of the auditorium, so we had them move over and fill the next third and then move again and fill the last third, and then composited it together as one shot. All the girls are real, no CGI, but the final crowd shot wouldn't exist without efx work.

But this isn't really so different from how it was done in the past. Even "Spartacus", with some shots containing 20,000 extras or so (I forget the number they got in Spain for one shot), used special effects to increase the size of the Roman army. And the Silent Era "Ben Hur" used foreground miniatures with tiny people on shaking rods in the stadium to create a crowd. And the 1950's remake used matte painting to create the widest stadium shots.

You don't get brownie points from the audience for avoiding a visual effect just on principle. They just want to be entertained, and your job is to figure out the best way to do that. Maybe it involves a post effect, or a miniature, or a make-up effect, or a slight-of-hand lighting trick, whatever, it doesn't matter ultimately if you pick the right technique and then do it well. But just to avoid effects for the sake of avoiding effects doesn't make much sense if your story requires a certain image to be effective, and that image can only be practically created using some sort of trick.

Which brings up the other point, which is that you used all sorts of tricks I assume to make your film seem bigger budget than it really was. A lighting effect is a "trick" for example. A sound effect to sell something happening off-camera is a "trick". It's all about using a variety of cinematic tricks, so why are the only ones that matter are the ones that happen in-camera? Did you do all your fades and dissolves in-camera too? Are you going to avoid titles over picture? Those are all "tricks"...

I do agree that some efx people and filmmakers are a bit lazy when it comes to designing and executing an effects sequence -- they opt for whatever technique comes easiest to them, what their facility is designed to handle. So a CGI-based company is probably going to go to great pains to avoid miniature work that they would have to farm out to another company, perhaps to the detriment of the movie -- which is why you want to be careful who you hire to do effects supervision. But there is nothing inherently wrong with CGI versus any other efx technique if it is done well and used appropriately. The tools themselves are not inherently good or bad.
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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 01:09 AM

"Did you do all your fades and dissolves in-camera too?"

Dammit!!!! I knew I could have saved some extra money!! Brilliant idea...next time, just iris down. David you are a genius :)

A good example of a movie that went nuts with VFX was Flyboys. Yes I know a lot of the stuff they wanted to do would have been too dangerous to shoot for real, but, they went overboard. It looked more like a flight simulator video game, it was the past seen as the future.

As I work my way up the budget food chain, I do look forward to hiring 20,000 extras for a scene. Like I said, they did it in Ghandi :) Those where not CGI people in the march to the sea scene.

R,
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#19 James Erd

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 01:15 AM

No budget? How did David Lean do it in "Lawrence Of Arabia?" How where those crowd scenes done for Richard Attenborough's "Ghandi?" It can all be done, we are simply losing the will and the craft to the computer.

Of course that was before one star gobbled up 20 million of the film's budget.

In the movie I'm posting now I used a "real" creature and a real wolf, every thing was done in camera. Some have laughed at this idea when I told them about it, but I think it looks better and definately cost less.

Now as Max Jacoby pointed out, when people see the wolf in my movie they'll say, "who did the wolf for you? it looked quite real." I know it will happen :D

R,


OK, forget the camels... How would film the Hindenburg? You could use stock footage which is very limited and worse every one has already seen it. Hmmm boring to watch and no fun for the cinematographer either.

You could build the Hindenburg... but you'd probably end up building a model, because to build the real thing would be prohibitively expensive. Not only would it be expensive but it would be dangerous. Even filled with helium, the Hindenburg would be very hard to control on a moderately windy day. OK you still want to film the real thing 1:1? Now you'll have to find a location and get the Hindenburg there, but you won't be flying it so it will have to assembled on location because even an experimental aircraft has to pass some FAA.

This feature is getting really expensive.

So you are going to build the model, and now you have to decide what scale the model is going to be. You are going to have to compromise on size and quality verses time and money. Once you realize that you are going to compromise between what you really want and what is possible you will want the model that gives the best result. In some case a physical model will be the best choice while in others you are better off going straight into the purgatory of the digital realm.

Cinema has from its inception relied on the talents of people in a wide range of disciplines to "fake" what was too expensive, too dangerous or just plain impossible to get with the lens alone. VFX is not the enemy of cinema, its just one of the tools that gets misused like so many other things.
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#20 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 01:32 AM

I see nothing wrong with a scale model, it would look great, filmed at high speed. Better than CG that's for sure.

Thanks for the movie idea, I'm adding it to my list. I'm looking at the explosion of the Hindenberg from my stock library now. Some balsa wood, cloth, and gasoline, that's all I need.

R,
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