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Star Wars anyone?


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#1 Mike Brennan

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 08:28 PM

Saw the Midnight screening in Miami after a 2 week straight shoot.
Fell asleep :)
What I saw looked clean. Impressive keying of fine hair without the buzzing of the previous SW.
Smooth skin tones.
Rich blacks yet there were a few low key scenes with black actors being lit from upstage that showed very good control of shadows.

Overall a resonable improvement in sharpness.

We were shooting Viper/filmstream/SRW1 on my shoot so the producer, having endured with looking at green on-set monitoring for two weeks left with high hopes for our project!



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#2 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 08:02 AM

Fell asleep :)
Mike Brennan

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


You really only needed to see the first 15 minutes or so and you've seen the whole movie! CGI-wise the opening battle scene was very impressive, although to me it still looked looked like something we might expect to see on a Playstation IV (or maybe V). In other words, while it looked good, it just didn't look real (well not to me anyway).


The dialogue between Obi-Wan and Anakin while all this was going on was so inanely casual and unhurried that I kept expecting a loud female voice to interject: "Anakin! Turn that thing off and come to dinner RIGHT NOW!!" and then have the whole battle backdrop suddenly replaced by a quiet futuristic bedroom:)

A lot of the rest of the CGI seems to have been stuff recycled from earlier SW episodes with a bit of Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure!


I thought the rendition of flesh tones was bloody awful, they all came across with this awful muddy appearance.

While the resolution is certainly better than that of Episode II, it's still clearly inferior to film origination, and the faces all suffered from the usual "white-spotting" of overloaded pixels that most video guys don't even seem to be aware of.

The low resolution showed up most with the city-scape scenes; they really needed to do those on film which is probably why they're doing that with Superman Returns. The other problem was the obvious difference in sharpness between the live action and computer-generated characters. The General Grievous character is a good example of this.

As ever, depth of field was a big problem, although probably not so much with the miniatures work, which would actually benefit from this.

So if you're basically making a two-hour Playstation game with a few live actors thrown in, video cameras are probably good enough, but the vast majority of movies don't actually fall into this category. So anybody who's hoping SWIII will be an impressive showcase for Digital Cinematography is going to be sadly disappointed.

Don't sell your Kodak shares just yet :P
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 09:26 AM

Careful Jim, thems fightin' words to HD guys. :D

R,.
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#4 Mike Brennan

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 03:56 PM

Careful Jim, thems fightin' words to HD guys.  :D

R,.

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Richard,
Save your breath. Jim Murdoch is not his real name.
Who wants to fight a war with a shadow, a shadow with a chip on its shoulder :)





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#5 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 07:06 PM

Richard, 
Save your breath. Jim Murdoch is not his real name.
Who wants to fight a war with a shadow, a shadow with a chip on its shoulder :)
Mike Brennan

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And you know this how? Well OK, my name is actually James Murdoch, and not only am I a real person, I actually have something to do with the film and Television industries, unlike some of the more prolific wannabes here :P
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#6 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 07:11 PM

Careful Jim, thems fightin' words to HD guys.  :D

R,.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As are certain other subjects to an awful lot of supposedly Muslim, Christian, Hindu etc individuals, and based on about as much hard evidence!

This whole HD/"Film is Dead" thing is rapidly turning into a religious cult, but I'm still pretty much an Atheist.
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#7 Mike Brennan

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 06:49 AM

And you know this how? Well OK, my name is actually James Murdoch, and not only am I a real person, I actually have something to do with the film and Television industries, unlike some of the more prolific wannabes here :P

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


For someone who how is meant to work in the industry you leave no credits, paper trail, google prescence or any individuals who knows a Jim/James Murdoch who is a tech who has worked in Australai or the UK.

More shadows.


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#8 Bob Hayes

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 10:08 AM

I just saw ?Start Wars? here in Thailand. And it looked great. By the way the Gold Theaters in Thailand are I believe the best theaters in the world. Huge screen, great sound, and 80 fully reclining leather loungers twice the size of first class airline seats.

Although I really enjoyed the film it suffered with Lucas? obsession with huge digital battle scenes. ?Why does it do it? Because he can?. Lucas mostly lost track of the people.

Also the opening crawl felt painfully dated as did Darth Vadar?s helmet. I felt like I was watching ?Space Balls?. It would have been cooler in my opinion if the Darth Vadar helmet was more of a prototype.

PS:

Sorry about the nerd answer. Star Wars sort of brings out the nerd in me.
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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 06:22 PM

"?Why does it do it? Because he can?"

This is becoming symptomatic with many films now where CGI is employed.

I agree 100%, way too much "stuff" in those battle scenes.

Same with the shot of the Greek ships in Troy, way too many, just because they can. Historically of course they where off by a country mile.

Now we have Kingdom Of Heaven, again, I doubt there where that many knights on horses in those battles back then.

Give me the David Lean style of filmmaking any day! When you saw all the cammels and horses in Lawrence Of Arabia for those battle scenes, they actually got that many for the film. Now that's filmmaking!!

As for the possible mystery of Jim Murdoch, very intriguing! But of course any one can register for and use an on-line forum. They can use any name they want.

R,
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#10 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 03:43 PM

Hey I guess we are all of like mind.

That was my immediate assessment of Star Wars after leaving the theater.

Too much stuff going in one frame. We had a lot of wide shots, obviously showing off ILM wizardry. But we sacrafice our connection to the people.

Limitation is good. Lucas says he was frustrated in the first trilogy by the lack of technology. But in those films when they got the Yoda puppet to work they had to earn that through hard work. Now it isn't as much work and it comes across.

That didn't bother me as much in Troy as the fabale goes. Helen was the face that launched a thousand ships. Well you gotta' have the thousand ships in there.

Edited by tenobell, 23 May 2005 - 03:44 PM.

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#11 Jon Allen

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 04:18 PM

In other words, while it looked good, it just didn't look real (well not to me anyway). 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

....and Jim's seen a lot of real outer space battles, too!
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#12 Jordan Brade

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 05:17 PM

I pretty much agree with everyone here.

There was way too much "stuff." I would've preferred Lucas focused more on the characters. I mean Lucas said that Grievous was supposed to be a bad ass the likes of Vader, but he was lame! C'mon Lucas, characters need to do more than look cool.

The main problem with movies with tons of CGI work is the fact that they decide to focus more on the CGI stuff. I mean, did we really need so many dolly shots of Minas Tirith in LoTR?

I'm probably going to get murdered for saying that.
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#13 Kai.w

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 11:14 AM

....and Jim's seen a lot of real outer space battles, too!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Had to think along the same line. As if spaceship models shot on film look more "real"....
Yoda did not look real in the old movies either. He still looks fake, just differently.

-k
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 11:41 AM

I think it's clear that eps IV, V, VI, had a more "real" look.

I mean come on, the final battle in eps I between the droids and those stupid Jar Jar binks creatures looked like a giant video game. It was 100% CGI and it sure looked like it.

Contrast that battle with the speeder bike battle through the forest in Return Of The Jedi. At least the bikes where blue screened over shots of a real live forest shot on film. The characters on the bikes where actual humans shot against blue screen.

Combine the two and you had a much more "real" look.

Even people with no film background can often be heard labelling many of the scenes in the new Star Wars films as looking "fake."

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#15 Kai.w

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 04:21 PM

I think it's clear that eps IV, V, VI, had a more "real" look.

I mean come on, the final battle in eps I between the droids and those stupid Jar Jar binks creatures looked like a giant video game.  It was 100% CGI and it sure looked like it.

R,

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Only if you consider "real" as being all shot with the same camera (which of course is preferable). However it was quite obvious in the old movies that joda was not a creature of "flesh and blood" like many other of the creatures and that most of the space ships and so on were just miniatures. I think filmhistory has made us accustomed to accepting this more easily as real. Still the old episodes are far from actually looking real.
I agree that the first episodes had some terrible effects (jar jar binks) but so had the old trilogy. Plus the technology has advanced quite alot. Certain physically correct methods of calculating how light actually behaves in the real world have only very recently been used for big productions because the computational power required was just not practically and economicly available before.
Look at Gollum. There are certain closeups were he looks more "real" than any minitature or guy in costume I've ever seen before (of course there were also some wider shots in which he looked real on his own but not in the context of the live footage (not shot with the same camera)).
In EIII I had the same feeling about joda, in some shots I totally took him for granted, in others not. Plus many aspects of what destroyed the illusion for me was not actually his look but more his movements, how he was animated.

What you mean is not so much realness but the integrity of the image...

-k
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 06:15 PM

I was just thinking about this the other day. I saw the end of "XXX: State of the Union" the other day, with some overdone CGI work. Ice Cube dives into a river, swimming past the camera, as a train car falls into the river behind him and topples towards him just as he swims by. Looked like a video game; he didn't even look like he was shot in real water, just faked dry-for-wet. The train car looked animated.

(On the other hand, the live-action Super-35 photography by David Tattersal was excellent from what I saw -- really sharp, fine-grained night photography, as good as if it were shot in anamorphic. Good D.I. work.)

I was comparing that sequence in my head to the scene in "Die Hard" where Bruce Willis leaps off of the exploding building and is left dangling as an exploding, flaming hulk of the helicopter falls towards him. You felt no danger to Ice Cube in that similar scene in "XXX".

Those effects involved large-scaled miniatures and you really felt the heat of the fireball and the sense of mass, so you really felt the danger posed to Bruce Willis' character.

Miniatures and make-up effects, puppetry, etc., while "fake", ARE taking place in the real world, so they have their own sense of reality, a sense of weight and mass. CGI on the other hand, can look like animation if not done perfectly.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is an awful lot of great digital efx work out there these days. The fantastic cities like Coruscant in the Star Wars prequels are much more photo realistic and have a lot better sense of scale than miniature-only cities do (unless touched-up digitally.) You have very complex shading going on to suggest passing storm fronts, fog, sunlight bursting through clouds, etc. not possible in the past. "Attack of the Clones" started out with that great shot of the all-silver spaceship emerging from a cloud to land on the city platform, with the storm clouds realistically wrapping around the reflective surface of the moving ship.

But I prefer more of the digital-miniature marriage of the "Lord of the Rings" films than the nearly all-CGI approach to some scenes in the Star Wars prequels (to be fair, there is still an awful lot of miniature work being done for those films.) Miniatures have some "weightiness" and catch the light more realistically, while CGI can augment those shots and add correctly-scaled small objects (like people) moving about them, or fires burning, smoke rising, etc. -- all things difficult to scale down for a miniature.

Same with why the T-Rex attacks works so well in the first "Jurassic Park" -- it made good use of Stan Winston's mechanical T-Rex yet the CGI T-Rex blended well with it. But I don't think the CGI T-Rex could have put its foot down in the rain and mud and made an imprint as realistically as the mechanical foot did.
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 07:30 PM

"But I don't think the CGI T-Rex could have put its foot down in the rain and mud and made an imprint as realistically as the mechanical foot did. "

You summed it all up perfectly with that statement David! I could not agree more.

Sure we are most likely at opposite odds of the political spectrum, but, on this point I'm with you 100% at least.

R,
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#18 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 06:42 AM

....and Jim's seen a lot of real outer space battles, too!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

All right clever Dick; it didn't look convincing.

If you want to get right down to it, none of any of the Star Wars space battle scenes were particularly realistic, since for one thing there's no air to carry the sound of explosions. They also always have spacecraft making banked turns, which is only useful when you're flying through an atmosphere. Real spacecraft simply flip 180 degrees and fire their rockets in the opposite direction.

Regardless, the battle scenes are supposed to depict a large number of solid objects varying in size from a small jet fighter to battleship size; they just didn't look like that to me, they just looked like a lot of fairly flat images on a video screen.

The earlier films used actual miniatures which look and behave more like the objects they're meant to represent. Of course there were fewer of them, but I don't know if that was such a bad thing; it was almost impossible to keep track of what was happening in some of the scenes in Revenge of the Sith.
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#19 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 06:54 AM

Had to think along the same line.  As if spaceship models shot on film look more "real"....
Yoda did not look real in the old movies either. He still looks fake, just differently.

-k

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well I never thought Yoda looked particularly convincing in any of the movies, although I admit did have trouble just getting past Frank Oz's "Fozzie the Bear" vocalization :D

But the outer space scenes in the original movies were still very skilfully done (albeit scientifically innacurate), and they still hold up very well, even by today's standards.

For my money, about the lamest "character" has to be 3-CPO. I mean, he just looks like an actor in a gold-plated plastic suit. It seems they can make battle 'droids that move like greased lightning, but protocol 'droids shuffle along like a penguin with arthritis.
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#20 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 07:09 AM

But I don't think the CGI T-Rex could have put its foot down in the rain and mud and made an imprint as realistically as the mechanical foot did.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The biggest problem with trying to produce computer animated versions of living things is that most forms of mobile living tissue are actually a slightly translucent jelly rather than an opaque surface. That's one reason why wax sculptures of people tend to look more realistic than any other material.

Computer imaging techniques have a long way to go before they can duplicate the complex interplay of light that produces.

For the forseeable future in most cases it will be cheaper to use actors or physical models and just use CGI to smooth down any rough spots. Of course in some cases there is simply no substitute for computer animation, as was the case with Spider-Man.
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