No, there is another: Other vfx companies and general discussion thread

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by v8er77, Jan 26, 2007.

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  1. v8er77 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2007
    It seems like most of the high profile movies get WETA to do the fx (Avatar being the latest). Certainly, it is WETA that wins the academy awards the last several years. I remember when ILM was the first and last name in visual effects. What happened???

    mod edit: changed title and upping for discussion
  2. DarthLowBudget Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 5
    WETA came out of nowhere, and The LOTR flicks were visually arresting, despite a couple of really shoddy shots in the effects in all of the installments that really stuck out to me (is an fx stickler).

    I'm sure we'll see ILM rise to glory again soon.
  3. Ludo_Kressh Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2005
    star 5
    I believe ILM set the standard for special effects, so I'm not surprised to see WETA out on top right now, if anything it should be an encouragement for them to step up their game a little.
  4. Gobi-1 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2002
    star 5
    Well WETA is made up of some former ILM employees and Peter Jackson himself came to ILM for advise and learning about the advancements ILM has made. If anything this is just a sign of how far the seeds of ILM have spread. While ILM influences the other effectss house they in turn influence ILM. So while WETA or Digital Domain may be breaking new ground or winning Oscar it doesn't take away the fact that this is a world that ILM has created.
  5. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    When you look at CGI effects that ILM created in the early 90s (T2, Jurassic Park, etc.) and see that they still look great, Weta doesn't begin to compare with ILM's track record.

  6. Lavaman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2003
    star 4

    What happened??? Politics happened. Hollywood hates Lucas. The Academy didn't even give Revenge Of The Sith a Nomination for Best Visual Effects, and people still respect them? Give me a break! ROTS deserved at least a Nomination for best VFX. King Kong was great, but WETA didn't do anything Visually that ILM hadn't pioneered themselves in the Prequels. The Academy is a joke.
  7. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5
    I think the ILM credits list speaks for itself.
    Check out all that they have done. It is absolutely phenomenal. Over 250 credits over the last 30 years. Now witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational effects facility. ILM credits since 1977:

    http://www.imdb.com/company/co0072491/

    Now, check out the history of ILM technical innovations:

    1977
    Industrial Light & Magic revolutionized special effects with Star Wars. The film marked the first use of a motion control camera.


    1979
    George Lucas set up the Computer Division to explore new uses of computers for digital imaging, electronic editing, and interactivity.


    1982
    Industrial Light & Magic, working with the Computer Division, created the "Genesis sequence" for Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, which marked the first completely computer-generated sequence.


    1984
    After four years of development, Lucasfilm pioneered disc-based computerized electronic nonlinear editing for picture and sound and premiered EditDroid and SoundDroid at the National Association of Broadcasters conference.


    1985
    Industrial Light & Magic made further breakthroughs in computer graphics with the first completely computer-generated character with the "stained glass man" in Young Sherlock Holmes.


    1986
    George Lucas sells off the portion of the Computer Division that specializes in rendering software. This group becomes the basis of Pixar Animation.


    1988
    Industrial Light & Magic created the first morphing sequence for motion pictures in the film Willow. ILM subsequently won a Technical Achievement Award for its development of Morf, a computer-graphics program allowing the fluid, onscreen transformation of one object to another.


    1989
    Industrial Light & Magic created the first computer generated three-dimensional character with the "pseudopod" in The Abyss.


    1991
    Industrial Light & Magic created the first computer graphics main character with the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

    Skywalker Sound introduced the first utilization of T-1 tie-lines for real-time digital audio transmission to distant locations. The projection of film at Skywalker Sound is synchronized, through patented technology, with the screening room projector at a filmmaker's office or home. With the combination of synchronized projection and real-time digital audio transmission, it is no longer necessary for the filmmaker to leave his home or office.


    1993
    Industrial Light & Magic won its 12th Academy Award for computer graphics work on Death Becomes Her and its fifth Academy Technical Achievement Award. This marked the first time human skin texture was computer generated.

    Avid Technology acquired the EditDroid and SoundDroid technologies and joined forces with Lucasfilm to develop and produce the next generation of digital picture and sound editing systems.

    Lucas Digital Ltd. and Silicon Graphics formed an exclusive alliance to create JEDI, a unique networked environment for digital production. JEDI is a beta test sight for Silicon Graphics equipment and allows the artists and technicians at ILM to advise SGI on future developments.


    1994
    Industrial Light & Magic won its 13th Academy Award for work on the computer-generated dinosaurs for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and its sixth Academy Technical Achievement Award for pioneering work on film digitization. For the first time, digital technology was used to create a living, breathing character with skin, muscles, texture, and attitude. This breakthrough expanded the filmmaker's canvas and changed the cinematic art of storytelling.


    1995
    Industrial Light & Magic won its 14th Academy Award for its breakthrough work on Forrest Gump. Although the most obvious accomplishment is the manipulation of archival footage allowing seamless interaction with historical figures, a variety of "invisible" effects, such as the character who becomes a double amputee, computer-generated jets, helicopters, birds, crowds, and ping-pong balls, subtly help the
  8. WEEBACCA Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2004
    star 4
    While WETA has come up with some pretty impressive solutions the last few years (as well as some pretty crappy ones) I think it's pretty clear that ILM still delivers the best total package.

    For instance while WETA's King Kong himself is brilliant, the sauropod herd chase sequence looks pretty crappy. And the V-rexes of King Kong (2005) just don't measure up to ILM's dinosaurs in JP3 (2001) four years earlier.
    WETA just doesn't have the same overall quality that ILM does.

    So in my opinion ILM is still the best effects house around even if they are not that far ahead of everyone else as they used to be.

    I've also heard rumours that Lucas is not interested in expanding ILM further which makes me a little nervous about ILM's position as the no.1 effects house in the future.
  9. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    I would hesitantly suggest that visual effects industry is getting to a truly competitive stage again, which it hasn't been since the late 70's. What has happened is that ILM now has stiff competition against both companies in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. But any company is only as good as the employees it hires and thus there will always be a waxing and waning in quality of work.

    Looking at the "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong", it is apparent that WETA's digital creatures were the absolute pinnacle of the artform at the time. Gollum could not be beaten and their "big-a-tures" were pretty stunning. However WETA's compositing and matchmoving skills were pretty shoddy - the backlash regarding the Bronto-Stampede sequence speaks for itself. They're never had artists on their books good enough to effectively make that part of their work seamless.

    But if you look at "Pirates Of The Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest", it's apparent that ILM has caught up in the digital creatures department (after their abysmally pathetic Hulk) with their stunning work on Davey Jones. Davey Jones is, in fact, the new highwater benchmark after Gollum and Kong. And ILM's compositing work (guided by Gore Verbinski, an ex-compositor himself) is second-to-none, which added to the belief held by many audiences that Davey Jones was an actor in a prosthetic. ILM's other primary strength is machines and inanimate objects (the Tripods in "War of the Worlds" being an excellent example) which they are currently unchallenged in my humble opinion.

    Of course ILM's digital matte-work is still pretty touch-and-go and, lets face it, they've also done a lot of bad CGI work as well in recent years. ILM's quality of work (as with any other company) is represented by their employees and who they have on their books at the time. If all of their star, contracted, digital artists are doing work for another company at the time then of course their output will be pretty shoddy.

    ILM is no longer the INDISPUTED king of visual effects, but that doesn't mean that they're not doing ground-breaking work either. And frankly a little competition is good for any business and the quality of their work.
  10. WEEBACCA Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2004
    star 4
    Good post NZPoe. I totally agree! Their work on Davy Jones was nothing less than stunning.
    While I do hope that ILM will once again rise to be the undisputed king of visual effects although I fear that will never happen.

    Btw, I think it's a shame that ILM has not won the best visual effects Oscar since Forrest Gump in 1994. If they don't win this year for Pirates I will know for sure that Hollywood has it in for them.
  11. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    Btw, I think it's a shame that ILM has not won the best visual effects Oscar since Forrest Gump in 1994.

    I honestly believe that ILM hasn't done anything innovative SINCE Forrest Gump until "Davey Jones" came along. Episodes II and III were neither groundbreaking nor innovative, merely abundant. "Twister", "Master And Commander", "The Phantom Menace" and "War Of The Worlds" are among their finest non-winning films, but in virtually every year they were beaten by much worthier candidates. The rest is pretty forgettable.
  12. Lavaman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2003
    star 4


    [face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh]
    Just as I thought; another WETA fanatic, who has to bash ILM to legitimize WETA as the new King of Effects Houses.[face_talk_hand]

    The CGI Hulk is not crap; he was and still is one the greatest CGI Characters rendered. In fact I would say that since the Hulk is human(albeit an 18 foot tall green one), that he is the best CGI Character ever, because humans are the most challenging CGI Characters to render. Other than the transformations, Hulk looked like a real 18 foot tall green human. The scene where the Hulk escapes the military facility and battles with the tanks, is still one of the most amazing cgi scenes ever.

    your comment about the Prequels not being innovative is laughable. The Pod race: with it's digital enviroments, use of perspective to create a sense of speed, dust particles, and CGI Pod Racers realistically breaking into hundreds of pieces and flying at the screen, was far more revolutionary than the Matrix with it's "Bullet Time". In fact the so called "Bullet Time" was already used in Lost In Space and Blade, but the
    idiot Academy gave The Matrix the Award for Best Visual Effects, even though The Phantom Menace deserved the Award. Also, like it or not Jar Jar Binks was the CGI Prototype of Gollum. ILM continued pushing the envelope with Episode II and III, with digital environments(and some miniatures); Coruscant looked totally photoreal. Also, by the time of ROTS, Yoda looked real as well.

    Other Effects Houses may eventually rise above ILM, but ILM's past and recent Pioneering Effects work can not be denied.[face_plain]

  13. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    Just as I thought; another WETA fanatic, who has to bash ILM to legitimize WETA as the new King of Effects Houses.

    Just as I thought; another random Internet poster who thinks they know everything there is to know about everything. Well done, good for you, your string of laughter emoticons really nailed that point home. Have a cookie (oh wait, I'm not supposed to feed the trolls am I?).

    But of course I'm afraid your conjectures are as incorrectly placed as your sense of humour. I'm not a WETA fanatic. I'm not an "anything" fanatic. I don't go gooey-eyed over any particular company because of their branding or get offended when someone disses them and then posts a response filled with laughter icons as a means of trying to hide the fact that I was offended and give the impression that I'm toying with the guy that offended me.

    See I can play "I can read your mind too", as you clearly are trying to play with me by calling me a WETA fanatic. If you took the time to read my FIRST post in this thread by me, you will see I'm just as harsh on WETA as I am on ILM and I would be just as harsh on any other company such as Digital Domain, the Jim Henson Company, PDI, Sony Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues, The Mill or ANY other visual fx company. The quality of work outputted by a visual FX company is based on their staff, NOT on their name, branding or mere reputation.

    So kindly post your proof of your accusation or retract please.

    The CGI Hulk is not crap; he was and still is one the greatest CGI Characters rendered.

    The CGI Hulk is absolutely terrible. That's my opinion. You have yours, I have mine. It's awful. It's absolutely pathetic. The humans in "Final Fantasy" were superior in my opinion and that predates the Hulk. The CGI Hulk had all the wrong kind of weight-distribution, unrealistic, untransluscent skin-texture and an incredibly expressionless face. His muscles moved like Jello, the lighting on his body-model was strange and the general animation quality was incredibly poor. You could almost see the keyframing in his animation cycles. I didn't buy it, I'm sorry if that offends you.

    that he is the best CGI Character ever, because humans are the most challenging CGI Characters to render.

    Like I said, I felt that "Final Fantasy" did better humans than the Hulk. And Gollum is still a humanoid character with strong human-like character performance. Hell the CGI Agent Smith in "Matrix Revolutions" (used for the slow-motion-rain-punch) was FAR superior. I don't agree with you. I don't hold your opinion high enough to believe that you can convince me otherwise. Sorry. Deal with it.

    Other than the transformations, Hulk looked like a real 18 foot tall green human.

    No he didn't. Not to me nor to my friends. Which I know only counts as much as your own opinion, but sadly I only care about mine. :)

    was far more revolutionary than the Matrix with it's "Bullet Time". In fact the so called "Bullet Time" was already used in Lost In Space and Blade, but the idiot Academy gave The Matrix the Award for Best Visual Effects

    So what? Application is half of innovation. "Lost In Space" used a real-bullet-time camera system (which actually fires a camera at high-speed) that was used in Budweiser ads and the "Wing Commander" film. And it was used for a single, unimpressive, sequence (which was done to better effect on the "Wing Commander" movie in my opinion).

    "The Matrix" found a way to simulate that effect using advanced camera technology and also found an incredibly innovative and dramatic way to portray action, thereby integrating visual effects into the storytelling. The fact that they found a way to create this effect from practically scratch, rather than building on existing techniques and technology, is also to be accredited.

    Make no mistake, I strongly dislike John Gaeta. I think he's an arrogant tosspot, but he certainly steered the creative direction of visual effects that year, not ILM. ILM's technology o
  14. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5

    The CGI Hulk is absolutely terrible. That's my opinion. You have yours, I have mine. It's awful. It's absolutely pathetic. The humans in "Final Fantasy" were superior in my opinion and that predates the Hulk. The CGI Hulk had all the wrong kind of weight-distribution, unrealistic, untransluscent skin-texture and an incredibly expressionless face. His muscles moved like Jello, the lighting on his body-model was strange and the general animation quality was incredibly poor. You could almost see the keyframing in his animation cycles. I didn't buy it, I'm sorry if that offends you.

    A polite reminder to all, these effects houses don't work in a vaccuum. All the work they do is under the guidance of a director (I thought Ang Lee's version of the Hulk was terrible) but ILM executed what he wanted. Also, producers play a role if they cut back on the amount of time and money an effects house can spend on something.

  15. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    A polite reminder to all, these effects houses don't work in a vaccuum. All the work they do is under the guidance of a director (I thought Ang Lee's version of the Hulk was terrible) but ILM executed what he wanted. Also, producers play a role if they cut back on the amount of time and money an effects house can spend on something.

    And you are 100% correct in reminding us of that and this is a factor that goes into the production of all visual effects. Time/money/energy/talent are resources that have to delicately controlled in the production any and all visual FX for film and television.

    Look.

    I'm NOT laying that ILM is entirely to blame for the (IMHO) "poor work" in the Hulk movie. I am simply stating that (IMHO) the visual FX work in "Hulk" IS very poor. It's the best that they could do with their time, budget and director's input and what they turned out was a dud, especially in contrast to the OTHER fx in the film (the comanche helicopters, the F22-Fighters, the tanks, the underground complex, etc etc etc) which were fantastic.

    Naturally, on rare occassions of creative serendipity, a VisFX company, its employees, the film's director and producers will be able to come up with a compromise that still produces ground-breaking and eye-watering visual fx despite the financial/time setbacks that are placed upon them. This is what happened with "The Matrix". It's also what happened with "The Lord Of The Rings". It is (unofficially) considered as "adversity" when the Academy contemplates who is worthy of an Oscar every year.

    Ultimately it still comes down to what A team of individual artists can bring to reality under very tight restrictions - the directors and producers of the film being unofficial members of that team as well. One of the reasons why the Davey Jones character in "Pirates OF The Carribbean 2" is so successful is because of its extremely picky director (Gore Verbinski) who worked as a compositor and was able to provide a fresh, but highly informed, perspective on the visual fx of that film.

    I believe my opinion still holds true. ILM hasn't done anything Oscar-worthy since "Forrest Gump" until their work on "POTC 2". And that's not a reflection of the work, but also of the innovation. The digital fx on "Twister" were FAR superior to "Independence Day" (which won that Oscar that year), but the technical innovation and unique problem-solving that was executed to bring ID4 to the screen outweighs the realism of the tornadoes in "Twister" in the eyes of the Academy and I would have to (reluctantly) agree. The same goes for the previous year where "Babe" won over "Apollo 13", the latter being a triumphant work in realism, but the former being a miraculous marvel of innovation and over-coming adversity.

    To remind Lavaman, the Academy Awards make a fair amount of conservative and preferential decisions - which is to be expected from any established industry - but the Visual Effects Academy Award is judged by their PEERS. The Oscar is given out by OTHER Visual Effects artists. It's not a bunch of stuffy old men sitting around trying to fathom how certain effects were done, the award is judged BY experts in the industry (including people who are on ILM's staff). It's a peer-judged achievement. It's visual effects artists patting the back of other visual effects artists. Which makes perfect sense as a lot of artists in the VisFX industry are contractors, not lifetime employees. They move around a lot, they jump from company to company, they are not obliged to show loyalty or favoritism.

    That doesn't mean that the Academy Awards themselves are not fret with favoritism or conservatism, but I don't think we should be writing off the Visual Effects award so eagerly just because "our favourite company" isn't getting recognition.
  16. Lavaman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2003
    star 4
  17. Lavaman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2003
    star 4
    Since we are talking about HULK, I still don't see how people can honestly think that the CGI Hulk looks like crap. I mean yeah, I agree with people that the Hulk hopping and jumping for miles at a time(like he was flying) was over the top, but that is a Directors desicion. Blaming ILM for the Hulk super jumps, is like blaming ILM for the Hulk being green. The Digital Artists can only digitally render what the director tells them to; if the director wants the Hulk to jump for miles, then that is what they have to do to the best of their ability. I thought that the actual digital creation of the Hulk was very photoreal, or at least real for an 18 foot tall human with green skin. The tranformations of Banner into the Hulk was the weak spot; but after the transformaions, the Hulk was very realistic. I still think that CGI Hulk is a little better than CGI Gollum. Don't get me wrong, I love CGI Gollum, he is a great achievement; but CGI Hulk is better in my opinion.

    This opinion has nothing to do with the movies as a whole. I love HULK the movie, but I love The Lord Of The Rings(that's right, I like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings, imagine that[face_plain] ) far more.
  18. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    I still think that CGI Hulk is a little better than CGI Gollum. Don't get me wrong, I love CGI Gollum, he is a great achievement; but CGI Hulk is better in my opinion.

    Dude that's perfectly fair and you're very entitled to your opinion :) I wouldn't let anybody try to tell you otherwise including myself.

    My reaction was primarily instigated by the fact that I don't like people telling me who I am, which I'm sure you wouldn't like yourself. And no I don't know much more about effects, though I do know a bit about how effects-companies operate as I have friends who work at both Weta, Digital Domain and The Mill in the UK.

    But I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree. I don't mean to stir up trouble either, I was merely throwing in my two cents on the thread topic.

    Take care man, no offense meant whatsoever :) [face_peace]
  19. Sn4tcH Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2004
    star 4
    I just wanted to make a note... jumping is the Hulks main form of transportation. Out of all the things that were not right about the Hulk, I was surprised they kept the fact that he can jump for miles in a single bound...
  20. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    just wanted to make a note... jumping is the Hulks main form of transportation. Out of all the things that were not right about the Hulk, I was surprised they kept the fact that he can jump for miles in a single bound...

    I agree, I have no problem with the depiction of the Hulk's superpowers. I actuall thought they got all of that VERY right and it looked GREAT. Hell the best part of the movie (arguably the only good part) is his entire escape from the desert facility all the way till his arrival in San Francisco. My main problem with the Hulk character was the model itself - the jiggly, jelly-like muscles, the unrealistic skin textures, the poor lighting on him and the mostly expressionless (or at least unconvincing) face. Also the very jerky movements he does whenever he takes more than a couple of steps.

    When I first saw Gollum in the "The Two Towers", my brain was constantly screaming "omg, i can't believe that character ISN'T actually there on the film set!" When I then saw "Hulk", my brain was going "wow, I can't believe they're actually expecting us to believe that the character is anything other than a giant, green, 3D-cartoon model!".

    He never looked like he was real in my humble opinion. The action sequences were great and his design wasn't too bad and the motion-captured physical acting was mostly good, but the character never looked like he was anything other than CGI.
  21. DarthLowBudget Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 5
    In all fairness, at least Hulk was well composited. WETA really have to get their compositing together. There are a quite a few places I noticed in LOTR where Gollum seemed to be "not-quite-there". A very few moments, but they were there.
  22. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    I thought Hulk looked pretty good. I even liked the story. Thumbs up.
    [image=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/34/Hulk002.jpg]
    "I'll give ya a dose
    But it'll never come close
    To the rage built up inside of me
    Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy"

  23. WEEBACCA Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah Hulk was great! Among the best CGI characters ever!
  24. JAWA64 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2006
    star 3
  25. WEEBACCA Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2004
    star 4
    That's a very insightful observation. Your wisdom is clearly equaled only by Master Yoda himself! :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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