Is ILM still the best visual FX house?

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by Jedi knight Pozzi, Jan 13, 2003.

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  1. Jedi knight Pozzi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2000
    star 6
    As all other companies can boot up a computer (oversimplication I know), is ILM now just another choice instead of only choice?
  2. Master Salty Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 1999
    star 6
    WETA did a great job with LOTR, but I think ILM is still the effects company of choice.
  3. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Well ILM was never the "only" choice. Soon afterwards the reinassance started, with companies like Apogee, Dream Quest Images, EEG, Boss Film and many others.

    But in regards to the overall industry a few companies are at the level of ILM. There are tons of boutiques, but few have additional skills besides CG, like models and miniatures, blue screen and motion control stages, and probably most important of all, a substantial R&D dept. (if at all). They are not the only choice but when people think VFX they think ILM first. They are big enough that they can bid on almost any project and work on several ones simultaneously. There are several directors that like to work with ILM, besides Lucas, we have Spielberg, Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Joe Johnston, Barry Sonnenfeld, Paul T Anderson, apparently Stephen Sommers, Chris Columbus, maybe Wolfgang Petersen.
  4. HKChicago Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2002
    star 2
    Isn't Wolfgang Peterson doing a movie of the Illiad? That'd be great if he used ILM... talk about complex and massive battle scenes...

    I watched the making of Signs (an entertaining but not as amazing as some think movie) and M. Night was honestly amazed at the amount of work, effort, and difficulty good CGI took for his alien. It was his first use of CGI, and I thought it was interesting to relate his experience to the volume of effects on a SW movie. Like the PT or not, it is truely amazing on screen. Oh yeah Night used ILM so likely he'll go with them in the future - he uses all the same crew, etc. on all his movies.
  5. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Yep, Petersen is doing Troy. We have speculation that maybe he'll pick ILM for the VFX.

    Shymalan has worked with CG before, he just doesn't like to rely on heavy amounts of it. Both the 6th Sense and Unbreakable had a handful of VFX. For example in Unbreakable we have the train wreck seen on TV, the shots with Willis inside the train and the opening shot when Mr. Glass is born (the mirror reflection), and the young Bruce Willis. Plenty of CG there. Those were done by Dream Quest Images/TSL, but they are no more.

    But yeah hopefully he'll use ILM again. Signs required 3 ILM supervisor. Rob Coleman supervised the animation. I believe the DVD doesn't discuss the invisible VFX of Signs though, only the alien.
  6. Vonn Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2000
    star 4
    I still think ILM is the best when they are given the time to really complete shots.

    However, I think ILM's worst is still much better than other companies worst shots.

    Though WETA did come very close to matching ILM's quality with the current two LOTR movies, unfortunately WETA could not maintain that quality level. For example, while they focused most of their attention on Gollum and Helm's Deep, many other elements suffered greatly (wargs and ents).
    ILM however has enough resources to spread around to where no shot really looks cobbled together at the last minute.

    ILM is still the best, but with the introduction of the computer to VFX, it is too easy for other companies to just spring up overnight.
  7. StarDude Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2001
    star 5
    malducin, visual effects were used in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. But there is a difference between computer generated animation/imagery and visual effects.

    "This is my first journey with CGI." - M. Night Shyalmalan, The Making of Signs
  8. HKChicago Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2002
    star 2
    That was the exact quote, thanks.
  9. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Well now, we are splitting hairs ;-). Besides depending on how you use the terms they are not comparable. After all CGI is a bunch of techniques to realize VFX, it's more like method -> results. I'm sure the guys at TSL would say that the stuff they did for Unbrekable was CGI, after all how would you describe a digital matte painting for example. The other way around it, just check the credits of the movies, you'll definately see credits for 3D and digital FX ;-).

    Shymalan might be referring that this is the first time he has extensively used it, especially that it was the first time where he had to defer or consult with a VFX supe in set and in post. He seems a bit VFX-phobic. And also direcotrs and producers tend to know little about VFX. Take Joel Silver, saying that no one will top the Matrix sequels ever, heck even McCallum or someone at Lucasfilm said that Ep. 2 was the first time they had CG performers, forgetting their long history like Casper, Draco and Voldermort. At one point Shymalan in a talk said that the job ILM did was so terrible that he had to settle for that man in a green suit, even though he was joking, not a lot of people caught on the joke. Don't give much credence to most directors and producers unless they have expierence with VFX, say like Cameron. There are still too many of them that fear VFX and digital technologies.
  10. StarDude Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2001
    star 5
    "People have come and said to me 'well, I noticed you didn't use any Special Effects in the Sixth Sense . . .'"

    Watch the Sixth Sense DVD and you'll see him explain why he doesn't ever use Special Effects.
  11. ratherkissawookie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2002
    star 3
    I think Weta is right with them or a little beyond. I can always look at am ILM film and pick out the CGI, but with Lord of the Rings, the animation is nearly seamless.
  12. HKChicago Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2002
    star 2
    malducin: I'm just quoting the horse on this one, but I'd infer he meant it was his first CGI character, since I'm sure Unbreakable had some cg effects (I haven't seen it).

    I still think ILM is at the top of the mountain, they're range of abilites and overall volume of work puts them at the top for me. As for picking apart individual works I'm sure other houses have some great examples, but there is little bad ILM stuff (relative to the year of production). Hell, they make me want to watch bad movies. Like Pearl Harbor and the raid over of the Tokyo steel mills at near the end. I live in Chicago which is surrounded by the some largest integrated mills in the world, and the ones in PH looked spot on real to my eye. Down to every detail. And they probably consider stuff like that an easy days work.
  13. StarDude Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2001
    star 5
    I think one of the best examples of ILM's work is the podrace in Episode I. Almost nothing is real yet I was shocked to find that out.
  14. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Yeah as I said, we are spliting hairs, big whoop :p. And yes he is refering to the CG character in Signs, the other two films mostly were comprimised of compositing things and were a bit minor. Unbreakable is my favorite of his last 3 films though I'm in the minority here.

    In Pearl Harbor, when the bombers first fly over Tokyo and you see them go thorugh the smoke columns, those were real steel mills filmed by helicopter somewhere in the US. Besides adding the bombers they added the Japanese sign, which is an in joke because it tranlstates to something like Brevig Steel Mills (in reference to VFX Supe Eric Brevig). The shots of the actual bomb run were done building this humongous factory miniatures supervised by Ed Hirsh. Really beautiful stuff.

    And I do agree, all studios produce good work for the most part with maybe some not so good stuff.
  15. Jedi knight Pozzi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2000
    star 6
    Cross your fingers!

    The one Academy Award AOTC is up for is Visual FX.
  16. Lurking_Around Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 6
    I think WETA is pretty good. Loved their work for LOTR, they deserve another Oscar IMHO.

    However, I still think ILM is sort of the best. Watch "Pearl Harbour". The rest of the story sucked but the FX...wow! The problem with ILM (and IMHO the problem with the PT) is George Lucas himself.

    Now bear with me, I'll spare you any basher nonsense. It's just that when I look at the PT, most of the time I see CGI cartoons or something. Sadly people use this to judge that ILM somehow is losing it's touch. Nope, it's not ILM's fault, it's just Lucas and his CGI overkill. "Pearl Harbour" showed how great ILM can be, in the hands of someone who knows how to mix CGI with other FX, to give it a more intense feeling.

    Just my two cents :)
  17. dolphin Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 1999
    star 4
    ILM by far.


    I remember reading in Dark Horizons on the worry by Weta about their ROTK FX. Much of the shoddiness was masked by the dark lighting in TT but in ROTK many FX they're worried about are daytime FX.




    ILM is by far the best...IMO
  18. ShortOrderSith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 9, 2002
    star 1
    Although lacking some of the finesse of ILM, WETA have produced superior effects for LOTR in terms of dramatic impact (which is ultimatedly what an audience will remember) but it remains to be seen how well they will cope with other projects.
  19. Padme Bra Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 1999
    star 6
    I still say ILM. All WETA has so far that I'm aware of is LOTR and I'm really not all that impressed by the FX in those movies.
  20. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Weta Digital has qorked on a few movies, mostly PJs, so some movies might not be wel known abroad. They worked on Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners for PJ. They also did quite a bit of "The Ride" in Contact, mostly that weird distortion effect, though ILM and Imageworks contributed a little too in that sequence.
  21. HKChicago Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2002
    star 2
    Has anyone seen "Dead Alive/Brain Dead" by PJ? It has one title in the US and another in AUS/NZ, and the US version is pretty censored. Just curious, most of the LotR world has never heard of it...
  22. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Of course.. but then I'm a New Zealander. Brain Dead and Bad Taste were low budget splatter horror comedy classics. His 'muppet' porno, Meet the Feebles was crap, though.

    Nothing in those 3, save resourcefulness, to hint at future glories.
  23. Jedi knight Pozzi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2000
    star 6
    Meet the Feebles is an acquired taste I must say. But you should see it once.
    And that may be enough. ;)
  24. Padme Bra Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 1999
    star 6
    Quote:
    "Has anyone seen "Dead Alive/Brain Dead" by PJ?"

    This might be off topic, but yeah, I saw the unedited version a few months ago. It's hands down the goriest, most over the top movie ever made. I laughed my arse off all the way through it.
  25. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    > This might be off topic, but yeah, I saw the unedited version a few months ago. It's hands down the goriest, most over the top movie ever made.

    Not off topic at all - the gore was "special FX", and a precursor to WETA being set up. ;)
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