PT Practical Effects in the Prequels- Sets, Pictures, Models, etc.

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Han Burgundy, Dec 28, 2013.

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  1. SgtTimBob Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2014
    star 2
    Whether CG or miniature the flaw with many of these scenes is that the actor is walking through an environment that physically never existed at the correct scale, and no amount of compositing can truly make it look like he is standing there. In the case of Kamino, there are dozens of shots where it's clear that they didn't even build the floor or rudimentary props, it's pretty much just Ewan wandering in greenscreen land. By all means, digitally extend a set through CG or miniature work, but if you try to insert an actor into an entirely non existent environment you'll have a hard time making it work.

    What I will say is that I am aware of a lot of the model work that went into these films, particularly in Episode I, and I have to say, in Episode I it looks really good. I think that has a fair bit to do with the fact that it was shot on 35mm, rather than the proto digital cinema cameras of epII and III. I'm pretty convinced that a large part of the 'it looks too cg' complaining of the prequels comes from the sterile look of the unready format. Ep I had a nice warmth to it's photography a lot of the time, especially in the scenes where it's mostly real set and props.
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  2. The_Phantom_Calamari Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 10, 2011
    star 4

    Oh I know the set isn't CGI. I was talking about the Kaminoans specifically.

    edit:

    But the same thing happened all the time in the OT. Do you think Luke and Vader were really dueling over a yawning chasm? Do you think Luke and Leia were really flying through a forest at 300 mph? Even shots of Vader and the Emperor doing something as simple as walking down a ramp from an Imperial shuttle were achieved with greenscreen and matte paintings. Because building huge sets and props is expensive. You think they should have at least built a floor for the scenes in Kamino? Well, maybe if they did that it would have been even harder to integrate it with the rest of the miniature set. We don't really know for sure, but I doubt it was because of laziness.

    And if you really think there's such a radical difference between 35 mm and digital to the extent that it's readily apparent based on what ends up on the screen, then why don't you take Lucas's challenge and conclusively identify which scenes in Episode I were shot digitally?
    Last edited by The_Phantom_Calamari, Jun 7, 2014
  3. Qui-Riv-Brid Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2013
    star 3
    I can't imagine how the actors could work on minimalist sets like these!

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  4. Qui-Riv-Brid Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2013
    star 3
    I think that quite obviously is untrue. It's successfully done over and over and over again. You can't possibly do these things at the "correct scale" the sets can't possibly be built. If you don't buy these shots then I can only assume the same is true for the OT shots as well.

    Erm... they built miniatures. You know practical miniatures. We are talking about practical effects here and that is exactly what those are. So now you think miniatures should be done away with?

    Whatever is wrong with greenscreen? Without it Star Wars never happens. Greenscreen and bluescreen are part of the practical process and method.

    So you don't like the Jedi bike chase? Doesn't work for you at all? I thought it worked OK.

    Slight problem there as II and III also used real sets and props just like TPM. Many sets and props and with all the worlds scene more miniatures than probably the previous 5 movies combined I should think.

    This "warmth of photography" thing is rubbish though. I think that is largely a mind trick people play on themselves because they accept that TPM used sets and props and know it used film and therefore they interpret it more favorably.

    They also know II and III were digital and also either don't know or pretend it was this nonsensical "all CG" nonsense and so they see it as they want it to be not the way it is.

    I love it when people talk about fake this and fake that when what is in front of them are sets, models, miniatures, matte paintings and the like as well as CG.
  5. TheBoost Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2014
    I signed up just for this thread.
    Even as a fan who, in general, doesn't care for the PT, I think it's a darn shame the artistry that goes into those awesome models, puppets, and sets is willfully ignored. Thanks for all the great pics.
  6. Qui-Riv-Brid Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2013
    star 3
    Well that has always been up to the people to find out what was what.

    Those who don't like the PT can't be bothered as it ruins there narrative.
  7. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Resolution has nothing to do with VFX quality, specially when movies are generally released in cinemas on a 2K DI.

    Lucas was the one who started the digital revolution (in terms of cameras, not CG, although he also did that indirectly), if he hadn't believed that digital had certain advantages over film and great potential, he wouldn't have used those cameras, nor would we have all the great movies that digital allowed to materialize, nor would the technology mature to what we have today (4K cameras with huge dynamic range, digital projection, etc) because nobody would invest in it, nor would companies like RED exist.
  8. thejeditraitor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    exactly.
  9. EternalHero Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2014
    star 2
    This thread is truly fascinating. No matter how much evidence is produced to rationally and systematically respond to criticisms about the Prequels, it is ultimately futile since it is now a "fact" that they are just irredeemably bad films and everything about them is wrong and that's the end of the discussion. You can't ever reason with that level of irrationality.

    I've been attending a series of screenings at a local theater. They've been running classic 80's genre movies for the past year and a half. Most of the VFX for these films were done by ILM. The prints are digital, they're the highest quality versions of these films now in existence. The films themselves are still enjoyable, some of them are classics. I saw E.T. (1982) last night. However, I think some of these haters of modern VFX should see these films on the big screen in close succession, it's been an eye opener for me. The VFX have aged badly. Composites are shaky, background elements are out of focus, foreground elements are flat, discolored and rimmed with thick matte lines. I started taking my glasses off every time I knew an optical effect was coming up - the dated, rickety FX were taking me out of the movie. Without my specs, it looked like I remembered it. I've kind of hit the wall, actually. I can understand why Lucas wanted to redo certain FX. VFX don't make a film but the rose colored glasses on this issue are creating a kind of nostalgic myopia. The PT looks better than most of these films. Not just in terms of seamless FX but in terms of what these tools allowed Lucas to do as a visual artist. Of course the automated counter-argument is that those movies are all perfect, magical masterpieces and the PT is crap and lacks "soul". That's a matter of taste and opinion. I think they're just as good and in some cases superior to the big genre movies of the 80's. But saying that these seriously dated visuals are "charming" or have "character" because they're "hand-crafted" isn't cutting it for me anymore. After over a year of watching them on the big screen at the highest quality available my feeling is that they were good and innovative for their time but they are far from being perfect or superior.

    Mod Edit: Font Resized
    Last edited by Bazinga'd, Jun 30, 2014
  10. EternalHero Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2014
    star 2
    Mod Edit: Deleted. PM me to discuss
    Last edited by Bazinga'd, Jul 1, 2014
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  11. thejeditraitor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    i agree with @EternalHero on the aging fx in other older films. a lot of these could be fixed by color-timing and re-compositing but once a film is out no one (except lucas) will have any control or spend any more money on them. people don't know how lucky they are that ot sw kept evolving effects wise. the pt fx have also stood the test of time despite being done in 1998-2005 and a lot of them being done for the first time on that scale.
    Last edited by thejeditraitor, Jul 1, 2014
  12. Jarren_Lee-Saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2008
    star 4
    So this!
  13. Legacy Jedi Endordude Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 9, 2012
    star 3
    I don't care what anyone says, but this is good film making!
    Last edited by Legacy Jedi Endordude, Jul 7, 2014
  14. Qui-Riv-Brid Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2013
    star 3
    All VFX will date eventually but the perception of some people is that the VFX of the PT have dated horribly but with a straight face they can say the OT are timeless which is simply not true.

    These are some of the same people who will swear the puppet Yoda's face has a greater range of expression than the CG Yoda which is simply not true.

    These are of course some of the same people who will tell you they can tell the difference between CG and practical even though they constantly have failed to and will say they can tell the difference between film or digital (OK then please point out all the TPM bits that are digital).

    These are the same people who go on about VII being on film but overlook that like TPM it will be shot mainly on film but will be done in post digitally.

    These are the same people who go on about wanting things practical but when faced with the reality of the PT being one of the greatest practical effects shoots in film history then retreat from that and then want things shot in "real" places and not bother with the miniatures!

    It's just one evasion after another. VII gets announced as shooting in "real" locations and it's like it never happened since 1982. The PT shoots in "real" locations but somehow that's ignored or mitigated somehow.

    I find it hard to believe impossible really that VII is going to look like a movie from the 1980's. It's just not going to happen anymore than the JJ Trek films look like they were from the 1980's. It doesn't matter how many set visits anyone makes you are not going to see the vistas that will be created by going to the set but only after post-production.

    Maybe JJ's eye simply isn't as epic as Lucas'. That's OK he's a different guy and good director but he's no visual genius like George and so we can't expect that he will have the same boldness or reach. Maybe all he wants is something that is a modern version of the OT with lots of very Earth-like planets and not truly stunning planets and stories on an epic scale.
    Last edited by Qui-Riv-Brid, Jul 7, 2014
  15. thejeditraitor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    yeah this is from kevin smith's comments and it annoys me to no end.

    "So we go to the set, and they're actually shooting – and this is what I can't tell you what they were shooting – but what I saw I absolutely loved," Smith said in the above video (starting around the 35-minute mark). "It was tactile; it wasn't a series of ****** green and blue screens in which later on digital characters would be added. It was there; it was happening."

    The filmmaker signed a non-disclosure agreement, which restricts him from revealing specific details about the project. But he did drop some intriguing hints, including a mention of a full-scale Millennium Falcon (which he viewed during a tour of "Stage M").
    "I saw uniforms; I saw artillery that I haven't seen since I was a kid," he continued. "I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that is real – I walked across the set; there were explosions – and it looked like a shot right out of a ****** Star Wars movie," he said.

    beside the ot feel ALL of that was present in the production of the prequels. ever watched the bts stuff on the dvd's/blus? ever seen all of the things the built and created for them? people just think what they want to think regardless of the facts.
    Last edited by thejeditraitor, Jul 7, 2014
  16. Big_Benn_Klingon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2013
    star 1
    This really annoyed me as well, because im pretty sure he actually knows better and is just pandering for publicity purposes. As usual his words are crafted with plausible deniability, but it's clearly a 'dog-whistle' swipe at the PT's supposed lack of practical effects.

    And seriously, who would want this? Who really wants their cutting edge sci-fi to look like something made using 40 year old technics and technology? You really have to have some thick rose-tinted glasses to actually believe that's reasonable. That would be like me in 1980 hoping that they make ESB using strictly the technology used to make the 1953 War of the Worlds movie.

    And it's not just OT purists now. There is also a larger popular trend to glorify everything in the 80s as the pinnacle of pop culture - especially anything sci-fi.
  17. EternalHero Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2014
    star 2
    What I find amusing about all of this is that I was around for the advent of CGI in the 90's. I was a VFX buff and was enthusiastic about what had been done in films from the silent era to the present (I still am). After Jurassic Park all I heard from anyone was that stop motion was "jerky" and not believable, that Star Trek was phony because they could only put "funny foreheads" on actors to show alien species, that models looked like "toys" and puppets were "rubbery" and phony looking. People went on and on about how Return of the Jedi represented everything that "went wrong" with Star Wars with its "silly muppets" and "midgets in bear suits". CGI was going to be the technology that saved cinema and the prequels would be so much better because they wouldn't have puppets or models. I still remember a message board discussion where I was defending Ray Harryhausen's work (around 1998) and someone said, "Those were B-rate monster movies and always will be, the FX are laughable now, all that stop motion stuff looks phony etc."

    I was saying back then, "One day there will be a backlash." That would usually get laughter in response.

    Now we have these weird "purists". Last week I saw E.T. on the big screen, afterwards at the pub I was telling a friend how badly the VFX had dated and he said, "It gives a movie character!" LOL. Okay, whatever, we're at that stage where rational comment is impossible.

    I think what a lot of people are missing is what guys like Jim Henson and Phil Tippett brought to their work. It's not easy to find people that talented and dedicated. Just filming puppets and props won't magically capture the essence of their performances or the performances they coaxed out of other people, any more than pointing a camera at actors automatically makes you Orson Welles or Ingmar Bergman.

    Now I'm just waiting for the back-back-lash, lol. "Puppets look phony! We want photo realistic CG!!" But one thing is constant when it comes to critics: they always think they're right, even if they reverse their position.
  18. Qui-Riv-Brid Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2013
    star 3
    I don't care about how dated they are myself. As I said that happens to all VFX but my point is the perception of what is and isn't is the key thing.

    If anyone gets a chance on the Criterion Godzilla release there is a commentary on the US Godzilla by David Kalat where he really gives an excellent overview of how the perception of effects works.

    One point he talks about is how for some Toho film (not Godzilla) that was done in the 70's and they used a US company to do the VFX but when they got them back the director threw them out because they were too realistic for him so they made ones less realistic but what he wanted for the story. He also points out that for various Godzilla films the directors specifically did what looks to us now as really dated with models and miniatures but that was the look they wanted. It was meant to be fantasy and they delivered on that.

    Visuals don't have to be realistic each time though what is realistic for Star Wars is just odd in the first place as opposed to something that is on Earth.

    If anyone feels that the VFX of the PT have dated fine but don't turn around and say the OT is "timeless" because it isn't. The PT is evidently far far ahead so if they PT is dated then the OT is truly ancient.

    Then as you point out some people will pull out this character argument. That is fine as a specific individual thing as long as they realize that is for them alone and is totally subjective and not at all objective.

    As I've said though the bogus arguments pulled out by people is for blasting how dated the CG is for this shot or this shot and I point out to them that there is either no CG there or it's only the enhanced elements while the rest is a set, model, miniature, matte painting or whatever.

    They perceive it as CG because they think that is the way it was done and not for any other reason then that is what they've been told. I find it interesting though of how many people don't really realize how even the OT was made. If they knew how much actual animation was in the films they might be puzzled because it's not really talked about much unlike how for the PT the CG was really talked up so that many perceived that was most of the VFX.
    Last edited by Qui-Riv-Brid, Jul 10, 2014
  19. lovelikewinter Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2014
    star 1
    The set pieces for the PT tend to have giant blue or green screen parts where CGI would be plastered over almost every shot in the film. They had an overly artificial look to them when they got to the screen, and going digital didn't help. In addition Lucas would reshoot half of each movie in pickups, which taxed the time and efforts of ILM to the max. It didn't seem like a fun place to work at for those movies.

    Though the PT did have some practical effects, it failed to create a tactile world you could touch and feel.
  20. thejeditraitor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    i suggest you read more of this thread. btw the prequels have a slick aesthetic on purpose.
    Last edited by thejeditraitor, Jul 16, 2014
  21. lovelikewinter Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2014
    star 1

    You say slick, I say cheap and video-game like. Different opinions.
  22. thejeditraitor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    best video game i've ever seen.
  23. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    What do you mean with "video-game like"?
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  24. GenericUsername123 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Now why did Smith have to go bashing the OT Millennium Falcon set like that?
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    Last edited by Obi-Wan Kennerobi, Jul 19, 2014
  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6

    You could touch and feel the OT? Ewww….[face_sick]
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