*OFFICIAL THREAD* "CGI in the Prequels" Discussion

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by G-FETT, May 24, 2005.

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  1. MasterLuke83 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2008
    star 1
    In ROTJ commentary Lucas read my mind when he stated he cant understand why many feel CGI is faker than say a plastic puppet. Its like Sesame Street vs The Polar Express. I think the 2 trilogies deserve each other.
  2. Darth_Davi Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 29, 2005
    star 4
    I think my only complaint with the CGI in the Prequels is that sometimes, the artists do too good of a job. The Pod race is a good example. at the starting gate, while it wasn't noticeable sitting in the theater, watching TPM on DVD reveals the layering. There are times when I watch that scene where it just looks to me that the foreground pods were placed in front of the background pods, using cels, like in animation, and not part of the actual scene. IIRC, its especially noticeable when it shows a close up of Selbulba. Something about the shot just doesn't look right. Its a nitpicky details kind of issue, and wouldn't even be noticeable watching in a theater or even on VHS, because the quality of the image isn't good enough...but the better the film quality, the more it stands out as just wrong. It also applies to spaceships. Not so much to the smaller starfighters, but Padme's ship they escape from Naboo in just doesn't look real. Maybe they made the chrome effect too reflective, too shiny, I don't know. I am not a 3D modeling expert. It just doesn't feel right. When it comes to space ships, I much prefer physical models, even if it limits the camera shots, because of lighting, shadows, texturing. A physical model just has substance to it, it reacts to the environment realistically, without the need of a programmer trying to make it look realistic.

    I don't mind the sheer amount of CGI, I just think sometimes they made the models too shiny and bright so that they lost the sense of realism to it. They looked too good to be believable.
  3. MasterLuke83 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2008
    star 1
    I think a healthy blend of cg and models is the way to go. Either approach is faker than combining the two.

    I can point out horrendously fake moments in the original movies, and i can point out cg that looks fake in the prequels. In both areas I would have preferred they add the opposite approach. The prequels may need some models and puppets and the classics may need some cg.

    An example of a very well done effect combining both would be the Neimodians mask, and the cg eye blinking. A perfect marriage.
  4. DARTH-SMELLY-FEET Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 3
    I think the PT over relied on CGI instead of letting the actors and the story do the talking. There's way to much CGI in there and there's no need for it.
  5. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    I think the CGI was used judiciously as a means of augmenting the obvious priority, which was the storytelling.
  6. DARTH-SMELLY-FEET Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 3
    The CGI took over, the acting and story took a back seat. Check out the making of Episode 2. There a scene where padme is in the droid factory. Lucas is telling her to duck here and there. She actually thinks he's joking. All GL says is "don't worry we'll make you look good"

    Actors make acting look good not CGI.
  7. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    Yeah and there are all sorts of examples like that from Lord of the Rings or other films. It doesn't make CG inherently bad or make a film that heavily relies on visual effects somehow bad.
  8. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    And that would be Natalie's fault as an actor or George's as a director rather than the CGI's.
  9. zombie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    When people say "the CGI took over" they mean "Lucas let the CGI take over" since he is the one wielding it; the actors have no say in how the elements of a film are constructed, they have to trust that the director has good judgement in the tools he uses to make the film.
  10. DARTH-SMELLY-FEET Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 3
    Oh i agree but thats not what i mean. When you rely on CGI to cover for lack of story and bad directing then CGI becomes a bad thing.

    CGI can be great to look at etc but its the writing/acting/directing that makes a great movie, always has been always will be.

    When you look at the PT it was written by GL who has already stated he's a poor writer. He's said he doesn't understand the process of acting (not a good thing if you want to direct movies).

    Also if a director cant get through to the actor the acting will suffer. Case in hand Ewan, he turned out some really fine work in the past but his acting in the PT is nowhere near his best.

    I think that covers all 3 things needed to make a great movie. The weird thing is i watched ROTS last night and loved it.
  11. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    Maybe it's time to set the negativity aside and enjoy the films for what they are and what one loves about them, instead of hating them for what they're not.
  12. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    There are things n ROTJ I dislike nearly as much as in any of the prequels and CG had noting to do with it. It ultimately comes down to telling a good story, not that the midgets in teddy bear outfits are much cooler than the pixelated gungans.

    They're both silly because they were depicted that way.
  13. morpha2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2005
    star 3
    It seems to me that the use of CGI is only a huge problem (i.e. something that takes you out of the the moment of the film) when the idea that is being filmed is stupid or corny. I think everyone would agree that Anakin surfing on the cow-tick in AOTC is one of the ugliest, most fake looking shots in the entire saga. Anakin riding the lava droid in ROTS looks similarly fake and jarring. Other than examples like those, I have more of a gripe with the overuse of CGI sets than CGI characters or stunts.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 7
    But if the story was good enough would you really care if the set was CG or physical?

    Seriously, people aren't complaining about the matte painted sets in ESB or ANH(Both films have plenty of those. They're the pre-digital equivalent of digital sets).

    Why aren't people complaining? Because no one cares if the stories are good.
  15. Dark_Jedi_Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 5
  16. yodas_waiter Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    rsterling78, I think you bring up some valid points with regards to the alien design in the prequels, especially concerning those of the more outlandish podracers.

    But at the same time, I think you're missing some of the better character designs, such as the Gungans, Pablo-Jill, Coleman Trebor, the Kaminoans, the Geonosians, Dexter Jettser etc.

    As I see it, the CGI creations at the Pod Race are more of the exception, rather than the rule.
  17. Jedi_Master_Cazz Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2005
    star 4
    I personally think the CGI is fine. Good on Hitchhikers for going model and fabricated suit though!

    Being an Art student, and aspiring to work for ILM as well, there are things that I've picked up.

    When technology breaks, first it was science, then it was art, every single time. And these movies are art. Think about it, when acrylic paints came out, the artists of the world all went "WOW! NO MORE TURPS!" The critiques of the world went "MY GOD! NO MORE OILS!"

    The Camera Obscura was the first camera, it was often used to trace scenes so artists can go back later and paint them realistically. You go into an Art Gallery and see one of these paintings and there will always be some old geizer going "Now this is skill! You see all those kids using computers for their art now! BAH! I remember the times when Art was going out into the world to PAINT!" (This was a real incident I experienced by the way) It's sort of like, "Hey... he traced it."

    I love the OT for the beginnings of the digital world, I love the PT for the digital skill it shows.

    Think about it, Jar Jar, Watto, Dexter, Grevious, Yoda and all the digital doubles are genuis!

    And for the record, now, its cheaper to do things digitally. John Knoll (effects supervisor I, II, II) says, "You get situations where, yeah, thats for the actor, then at the other end of the spectrum you get, no way! It's too dangerous, we'll do it in the computer, then you get half and half, well, we could do it with the actor, but we could also do it cg. Almost every time, we try to aim for the actor, its just more real that way."

    And if we didn't have digital doubles... what if Hayden had done in a joint during the filming of a scene? Oh hell! Suddenly we don't have an Anakin! Ep. III, and the rest of SW history would have gone down the sinker.

    Cheers_Cazza@};-
  18. Dark_Jedi_Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 5
    I agree, I can't find a lot to complain about in regards to the CGI of the prequels. Sure, there are some mistakes here and there but overall the effects work on the prequels is some of the finest in the industry.
  19. DocRevan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2008
    star 1
    Oh yes, the classic prequel criticism; "There's to much CGI! It's soulless! It looks fake! It ruins the films!"

    Honestly, I'll never understand where the bias against CGI came from.
    Star Wars has always been on the cutting edge of technology, back in the days of the OT ILM revolutionized special effects. It's only logical that they would push the boundaries of special effects with the prequels too, and CGI is the new frontier. Sure, not everything looked perfect, but they were developing as they went along. The prequels are technical frigging marvels!

    They wuz robbed off the special effects oscar, I tells you!
  20. Padmes_love_slave24 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2003
    star 3

    Bravo wonderful points, and let me add to some of the revisionist fans out there, some people fail to understand the originals were criticized for using too much special effects, especially ROTJ. For the time the movies were released the effects were cutting edge, and many people felt that was going to be the downfall of cinema. Star Wars being criticized for using too much special effects is not a new argument. People conveniently have short memories!
  21. Eternity85 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2008
    star 3
    I think CGI is amazing. But part of the reason the OT was so special when it first arrived on cinemas was that it was so different than all the other Sci-Fi movies. Star Wars was a place far far away, but people could still relate to that new world somehow.

    I don`t know how to explain it, but it`s like you feel closer to the story, and the characters because even if this takes place in a galaxy far far away, it still feels familiar to us. You know, everything wasn`t clean and perfect, in a way everything looked more real!

    In the PT i think the CGI is used way to much, and IMO takes away that feeling of reality we knew from the OT.. I know CGI was essential for the creation of the PT, but i think Lucas was seduced by this powerful tool, and in this process he forgot what made Star Wars to Star Wars, and maybe some of the magic in star wars was lost this way..
  22. DARTH-SMELLY-FEET Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 3
    What a great post. I couldn't agree with you more =D=
  23. DocRevan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2008
    star 1
    The "used universe" - look is definitely something that set Star Wars apart from a lot of the other sci-fi movies at the time, but that said, I think it was a conscious decision by Lucas to make everything look cleaner and sleeker in the prequels, not necessarily the CGI's fault.

    I agree that a lot of the designs in Episode I, like the Queen's super-chromed ship, didn't "feel" like Star Wars.
    But by the time ROTS rolled around, things do look a lot more gritty and used, take Grievous's flagship for example.
  24. yodas_waiter Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    I don't understand this argument. The PT universe was just as used as the OT one.

    In TPM we have Tatooine (naturally)
    In AOTC we have the Coruscant underworld, the refugee ship, Tatooine (again), the droid factory and the factory works
    As the poster above has pointed out, the Invisible Hand is visibly grimy in ROTS, the Clone's armour is worn and scratched and Mustafar looks quite used.

    Of course, the PT is more flashy than the OT but that is because the brunt of the story takes place in places of power. To complain that the galaxy doesn't look used enough in the scenes is like complaining that Capitol Hill or Buckingham Palace doesn't look "used" enough if they appear in a film.
  25. Dark_Jedi_Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 5
    Coming from someone who really enjoyed the PT, I can certainly see your point. In some cases I agree that CGI was overused and actual sets or performances were sacrificed in lieu of it. CGI technology helped Lucas create the universe that he had always wanted to create, but I do agree that it was a bit overused in the PT.
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