Discussion How do you want the new films to be made? CGI or Practical FX?

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Episode VII and Beyond (Archive)' started by themetresgained, May 13, 2013.

  1. Echo-07 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2012
    star 4
    I completely concur with Mr. Hamill -- I would like to see much more practical effects.

    I also completely concur with Ms Claire.

    I think, based on the Trek reboot, we will get both! :)
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  2. themetresgained Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2013
    star 4
    Hmm now that you mention it, that probably is what always seemed off about the Clone Troopers to me.
  3. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 7
    There were moments of brilliance with the Clones... such as the shot where they point their blasters at Bail Organa... but, overall, I agree.
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  4. Pfluegermeister Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2003
    star 4
    According to all the behind the scenes footage, there was at least a projected image of a planet on the fake viewscreen that simply disappeared when an off-camera British voice said "bang." [face_laugh]

    But now consider this: yes, Carrie Fisher was expected to imagine some things that weren't really there and could only be done with visual effects, just like the actors in the prequels - indeed, just like most actors anywhere in any project. The crucial difference is this: would you have been happy to see the entire Death Star control room she was standing in in that scene done digitally, as a digital set replacement, with Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Richard LeParmentier et. al. standing in front of nothing but a green screen during the shoot? That's acting in front of virtually nothing at all, with no stimuli at all against which to develop a performance; in ANH they at least had a REAL physical set to work in, cheesy as it might have looked (and, largely because of camera angles, it didn't look all THAT bad - it didn't look GREAT either, but it also wasn't a deal-breaker). A completely digital set, in addition to either a guy with a stick and tape or a photo of a planet and a strident "bang," would then have validated your point that actors can do just fine acting against nothing at all, and that we can do just fine watching the result. They didn't do things that way; they weren't acting against, say, an animatic of the exploding planet, true enough, but they also weren't acting against nothing either.

    But the prequels were guilty of going completely crazy with exactly this kind of total set replacement, of placing actors in a complete green void and inserting their entire environment around them later via the computer, and the sole result was that everything looked horridly fake and cartoony; one more strike against the prequels that they did not need. This was NOT generally done in TPM, to its credit (Jar Jar and Watto aside, as far as set extensions and establishing environments go, the balance between traditional and digital effects was for the most part pretty good, particularly in the Theed environments), but it became a widespread practice in AOTC and ROTS, to the detriment of both films. In AOTC particularly, most of the environments looked both fake and cluttered; neither the Geonosian or Kaminoan environments nor the grand interiors of the Jedi Temple looked real enough to pass muster with me; the Coruscant environments generally worked, particularly in ROTS, where they had begun to learn to make more realistic - and particularly, more dramatically effective - images of the city-planet, but Utapau and Mustafar looked entirely too fake and it was painfully obvious.

    It's simple common sense that a director ought to give his/her actors everything he/she possibly can to get the desired performance out them. Actual sets are a part of that process; digital sets run counter to that process. Anything that can be done to help an actor is essential and helpful to the film. For Alien and Blade Runner, Ridley Scott hauled out a bunch of speakers to his sets (REAL sets, mind you) just to give his actors that little extra somethin'-somethin' to help their performances; Sigourney Weaver was running around the steam-filled, strobe-lit REAL corridors of the Nostromo set with wonderfully wierd-ass Isao Tomita synthesizer music playing at full blast; Harrison Ford ran around the REAL streets of the outdoor set for 2019 Los Angeles with early bits of Vangelis' score playing overhead. For Prometheus, Scott worked up an animatic of the death of the Weyland character and ran it on REAL monitors on the REAL bridge set just to try to get a better performance out of Charlize Theron, who was supposed to be watching her father die and needed something to act against. I can't confirm that this worked in every case, but I know that in Weaver's particular case, this technique was so helpful that she commented on it thirty years later. No one's going to comment on how helpful Lucas was to his actors; they're all on record that he wasn't helpful. We already know Abrams is much more actor-friendly in general, so that's already a step in the right directon, but he also needs to do here what he largely did with Star Trek; keep it real when you can, and make it digital if you have to (but stay away from the brewery this time!). And he needs to help his actors in any and every way he can, not leave them out in the green void to work it out themselves.
  5. The Hellhammer 7SA Forum Interrogator

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2012
    star 5
    Yeah, the blaster pointing scene is cool, but the more I think about it the more it bugs me. Not that scene in particular, the clones in general.
    Having like 20 guys in suits would be all you need, and only use them for those shots where they're up close and personal - that is, the Organa scene or chatting with Obi-Wan and scenes like that.
    I'm also pretty sure that filming that would be way easier than animating every little movement they make and trying to keep Morrison's head on them properly.*

    The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. It just seems to me to be a sort of "We'll do it just to show you we can do it." decision, not done for any really practical reasons.

    *In the BluRay version it is fairly obvious that the head awkwardly wobbles a bit from side to side, as Cody is handing Obi-Wan his lightsaber back, just before Order 66. Once I've seen it, I can't unsee it.
    Last edited by The Hellhammer, May 14, 2013
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  6. Pfluegermeister Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2003
    star 4
    It may actually have been deeper than that: the OT was successful in part because it was groundbreaking in terms of visual effects, those accomplished with computer-driven cameras and compositing techniques; the pressure must surely have been there to make the PT equally groundbreaking for the next generation of visual effects, those accomplished digitally. The difference is that in the OT, being groundbreaking definitely worked; in the PT, it largely didn't. Being groundbreaking in visual effects is damned hard to do in general now because the audience is far more effects-saavy than they were in the 1970s-1980s, and hard to do in particular if you still want to remain true to the visual style that Star Wars established; Avatar has already become the groundbreaking digital effects film for our times, and it could only do so by not being Star Wars in terms of style. I'm not sure what there is left for the ST to become groundbreaking in, particuarly where visual effects are concerned; it's far more important to focus on the story and characters this time around. "A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing," after all. ;)
  7. ezekiel22x Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    "It looks like a video game" is a favorite discussion ender around the 'net, but I'll turn the tables and embrace that meme given that, for instance, Fumito Ueda's PS2 games have moved me like no Abrams film has done. Effects are pretty low on my list of concerns. But in the spirit of moving forward and creating something new, I'd like to see a visual style that for the most part is unique compared to the existing trilogies.
  8. The Hellhammer 7SA Forum Interrogator

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2012
    star 5
    "Looks like a video game" was exactly how I felt about The Hobbit's CGI goblins/orcs. That whole escape from the mountain was like a hack and slash co-op game.
  9. Pfluegermeister Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2003
    star 4
    "Looks like a video game" was exactly how I felt about The Hobbit PERIOD. [face_hypnotized]
  10. QsAssistant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2011
    star 2
    Have the CGI be waaaaaay less than the PT and slightly more than the OT.

    Not CGI:
    People
    Soldiers
    Half the aliens
    Most of the environments

    CGI:
    Space battles
    Half the aliens
    Some of the environments
  11. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 7
    That is a wise & quite reasonable breakdown.
  12. Rachel_In_Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2013
    star 2
    It doesn't really matter to me. I am sure all the special effects will be well done.
  13. Darth Dominikkus Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2013
    star 3
    I think that there can be a great balance between the two. For the scenes that can be done practically, do them practically, it'll make it look even more real. For those tough scenes or almost-impossible-to-create scenes, use CGI, but don't overload the movie with it.
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  14. vw_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2002
    star 4
    A combination of both always looks best to me.
  15. TheManFromMortis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2012
    star 2
    _ _ _ _

    I think CGI works best when it's in the background and used subtly. For example, it can be used very effectively to render sets and environments that just couldn't be created any other way, but I'm not keen on main characters being created entirely digitally. I didn't mind Grievous but, obviously, Binks was not good.

    Some of the miniature and modelling work in the OT was fantastic, although one particular scene that was bad and sticks in my mind is when the Super Star Destroyer pierces the surface of the Death Star in RoTJ. That looked awful and so obviously a model. I'm amazed that Lucas, with his desire to constantly revise and/or improve the films and effects, has never gone back and re-done that scene with CGI.

    However, I think it's also good to remember that the last episodic film - RoTS - was released 8 years ago. The technology has developed and improved so much during those years.

    So, to conclude, I'm for subtle use of CGI. The outdoor cityscapes of Coruscant would have been difficult to do convincingly with models and/or matte paintings, I think. I know the battle scene on Hoth in TESB featured some matte painting as background. So, use CGI for creating the massive environments that would be difficult to do the old fashioned way, but keep away from entirely digital characters other than figures in the background etc.
  16. LunarMoth Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2012
    star 4
    Just thinking out loud.......

    Some stuff from the 70's and even a little earlier looked great and still seems timeless.

    Planet of the Apes for sure.

    The Sleestak from the original Land of the Lost were awesome and still look great!

    The look and feel of the Cantina and Jabba's Palace are really a big part of what makes Star Wars feel good visually.
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  17. TheManFromMortis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2012
    star 2
    _ _ _ _

    I'm not bothered about them releasing it in 3D. I think there's a fair chance that they will, but I'd rather they finished converting Episodes I-VI before releasing Episode VII in 3D. As that's now on hold, I'd rather they didn't.
  18. TheManFromMortis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2012
    star 2
    _ _ _ _

    Things like water, hair, animal fur, natural movement etc are difficult to do with CGI. They are done much more realistically these days, but I agree with you about the ocean on Kamino. It looked very obviously CGI. That weird dog-like creature in the arena scene in AoTC also looked crap. The fur was awful, as was the movement. I don't think the Boga that Obi-Wan was riding when he chased after Grievous in RoTS was very well done either.
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  19. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2008
    star 5
    I love the original planet of the apes movies! I agree that costumes were great considering the years the movies were made.
    Last edited by Darth_Pevra, May 15, 2013
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  20. SithLord_1270 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2008
    star 3
    A balance or less CGI. CGI is great, but too much takes away from the film. Too much reliance on it & the plot gets neglected. I think they should use it as needed.
  21. TheManFromMortis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2012
    star 2
    _ _ _ _

    Ditto. I thought the costumes were pretty good. Admittedly, I thought the costumes/prosthetics in Tim Burton's re-make/re-imagining were more realistic. Still, I prefer the original to the Tim Burton version, despite being quite a Burton fan.
    Last edited by TheManFromMortis, May 15, 2013
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  22. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    CG should only be used to create things that cannot be accomplished any better way. Now, "any better way" is a point of contention for some as they will argue a model is better for this or that.

    But, as a general rule: if a model or miniature gets you closer to your vision on the first iteration than a CG environment does, go with that and maybe enhance it with some CG elements if necessary.
  23. -Jedi Joe- Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 6, 2013
    star 1
    Hopefully it's practical effects and physical sets aided by CGI, just like everyone else is saying.

    An even bigger question could be: Will J.J. go back to shooting on film or will Lucasfilm insist on maintaining pace with digital cinematography?
  24. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Good question. I don't know this but does JJ shoot on film now? I suspect that even if film stalwarts like Scorsese and Spielberg can shoot some films on digital, then JJ might be easily swayed.
    Last edited by ShaneP, May 15, 2013
  25. Jedsithor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2005
    star 4
    I believe all of the effects should utilise stop motion animation. :cool:

    I don't think CGI vs Practical is really a worthwhile debate. Every shot will have its own requirements. You can say that the default position should be to use practical effects where possible and I would by and large agree with that, but the issue isn't really one verses the other, the issue is how the director approaches each shot. If you have a lightsaber duel on a volcano planet, with no real world environment that can substitute for that planet and no way to build the kind of set you need, then cgi is necessary. But even in the Mustafar duel, there were a lot of practical elements. ILM actually built a lava river miniature, they incorporated footage from an actual volcanic eruption. Even digital matte paintings are ultimately no different than the matte paintings that provided backdrops in The Wizard Of Oz. They're just better integrated thanks to green screen technology that allows compositors to do it in post.

    I feel like this debate stems from the prequels, which are perceived by many people to have an over-reliance on cgi. And people are generally shocked to learn that the prequels all had location shoots and real sets and used miniatures. Yes, some things were purely cgi and there are areas where practical effects just aren't efficient or maybe even possible. But the Star Wars prequels had as much practical work as any other blockbuster. If Lucas was consumed by computer generated effects, he wouldn't have gone back to Tunisia to the same set used decades earlier to shoot the Lars homestead scenes in Episode 2, he would have just done it all on a green screen stage, something he showed he could do in Episode 3 when he reshot the final scene in a studio and the reason he reshot it there and didn't go back to Tunisia yet again was pretty much down to cost.

    When it comes to the sequels, every single visual effect won't be approached with the mindset of "let's do more cgi" or "let's do more practical." Each shot will be taken on its own merits and the director will need to work with ILM to see what the best approach is. Ultimately the script will decide the approach, as it has always done. If the script calls for giant three-headed beetles on a planet made of glass, well that will most likely be cgi. If the script calls for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker having a conversation in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, that cockpit will be a set, probably on a green screen stage so that the stars or hyperspace background can be added in post, which is pretty much what happened on the original film.

    Hamill talks about a blend, but even that isn't really right. It's not about a blend or a balance, it's about what's right for the moment.
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