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. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    And those plumes of lava were taken from an active volcano.

    I'm really curious to see how it will even be possible for Episode VII to top the prequels practical effects.
  2. Big_Benn_Klingon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2013
    star 1
    I cant see it happening. I think any claims to the contrary are just paying lip-service to the CGI-haters. I don't think ILM does do this scale of model work anymore. And JJ and ILM's last collaboration (ST: Into the Darkness) was a pretty thoroughly CGI affair from everything ive seen (particularly anything involving ships and cityscapes)
    Last edited by Big_Benn_Klingon, Jan 28, 2014
  3. Maul95 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 6, 2013
    star 1
    This thread is gold. Now I can laugh at those who still say the PT was "all CGI" [face_laugh]
  4. GunganSlayer Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2013
    star 2

    I'd say you're probably correct. As far as I know, ILM no longer even has a practical effects team. The core of that group and its resources were spun off shortly after ROTS came out, and formed the basis of Kerner Optical. Kerner Co was originally a name ILM used to mask their operations to the public, and it basically consisted of their model work and practical effects team. The new company that was spun off, Kerner Optical, later went bankrupt, sometime around 2011 or 2012. That's not to say that ILM can't do practical effects, but they basically would have to form a new team to do so, or farm it out to a 3rd party.
  5. Sir Chem Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2013
    star 1
    Wow, I had no idea that there were so many practical effects used in the PT! And yet, it still looks so fake to me. I really have no idea why, honestly. Maybe the camera work was different? Something about most of those scenes shown was just "off", like it was made to blend in with the CG around it rather than the CG blend with the environment. But it makes me happy that he still used the practical effects.

    Edit: looking at the pictures again, changing environments to blend with the CG seems like it might be the reason it looks weird. Looking at the set for the Maul/ Obi Wan duel, I always thought it looked fantastic, particularly the forcefield hallway and the big gaping hole room. What's special about those rooms? They are almost all constructed. Maybe the CG just messes with my perception, making it all look really fake. (When I say fake, I mean unable to suspend my disbelief.)
    Last edited by Sir Chem, Jan 31, 2014
  6. Big_Benn_Klingon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2013
    star 1
    Yes I understand what you mean by "fake". The only SW CGI stuff that really looks that way to me is the some of the special edition stuff, like Jabba in ANH and Jabba's band in ROTJ. They really look dated now, but I think that work really helped ILM "cut their teeth" for the PT's CGI. As far as PT practical effects go, the extent that they aren't overtly identifiable speaks volumes for their quality. ILM had 20 years + of experience and technology development behind them for the PT that they didn't have for the OT.. and I think it shows.

    I think personal perception can also really play a tricky roll in things. I remember watching ROTJ with a group of kid (under 10) a few years ago, and was shocked when they broke out laughing at the rancor scene. To their eyes it was obviously a puppet, but to me it still looked totally believable. Ive never been able to watch that scene with the same innocence since that day, lol. It reminded me how my dad used to think the old Harryhausen movies looked totally believable.
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  7. Sir Chem Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2013
    star 1
    Yeah, I can see that they would think the rancor looks like a puppet. (I mean I do, too. With the real, physical models, my mind is more able to suspend my disbelief.) I think the main problem is that CG ages much quicker, in general. Take a look at Jurassic Park, the T-Rex scene is still fantastic. If it had been made with the CG of the time, it would be terrible now.

    I don't know, I was a little kid while the prequels were coming out, but the old movies always looked better to me. Even down to the props, such as the lightsabers and such. I guess it comes down to an Uncanny Valley type deal, even though I don't think it looks real. There's just something I can't pinpoint that I don't like about the look of the PT. Maybe it's too clean? Maybe they CG "enhanced" the environments? I don't know, but it's there.
  8. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    It's all in your head.

    Question, after almost ten years after Revenge of the Sith, why are you just now finding out the Prequels have more locations and practical FX than the OT?

    I grew up with the OT when they premiered, and every fan I knew watched the "Making Of" docs. Is it just everyone assumes they know how they're all made? I.e. pushing a magical computer button?
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  9. Han Burgundy Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2013
    star 3
    No, as someone else said earlier, the promotional and behind the scenes material for the PT almost exclusively emphasized the use of CGI. It was new technology, it could do things that weren't possible before, so Lucas talked it up big time every chance he got. As a result, a lot of the images like the ones in this thread faded into obscurity. I don't know where people got these images but there's nothing like them featured on the DVD extras or anything that was released widely at the time of release. Everyone was talking about CGI, because it was new. And that led to a grave misconception about how these films were made.
    Last edited by Han Burgundy, Feb 1, 2014
  10. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    I'm sure I've mentioned this before but what kills me is that people correlate how much they like the acting with the amount of CGI and/or green screen.

    I just…don't get it.

    I'm sure I've mentioned this before but the most criticized acting of the PT -- the Anakin/Padmé romance -- was basically shot completely on set or on location.

    Let's take a look:

    --First meeting, packing --> set of Padmé's apartment
    --arrival on Naboo, meeting with the Queen --> on location in Spain
    --arrival to Lake House, political discussion, dinner scene, morning after nightmare --> on location in Italy
    --going after Shmi, meeting the Larses --> on location in Tunisia

    There might be a few blue/greenscreen heavy scenes here and there, but the vast majority were not. And yet people still ascribe "deficiencies" in the acting to this. Which boggles my mind.

    Especially when you compare it to Palpatine and Anakin's conversation at the opera. Basically everything there was CGI I believe (expect their chairs perhaps) and yet, I haven't heard 1/1000th of the criticism, especially in regards to Christensen's acting.
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  11. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    No, it's there in the docs. If you're more in depth you might get Cinefex magazine but most people don't.

    It's much easier to read the latest Entertainment Weekly where they will tell you the Prequels sucked and boy look at J.J. Abrams he's gonna use stop motion because anything more doesn't suspend disbelief!
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  12. Samnz Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 2
    I do think that age certainly has an effect on your perception of visual effects. Sir Chem's case contradicts that in a way, but you could seem him as the exception that proves the rule.
    I'm not sure if this is entirely accurate (correct me if I'm wrong) but I'd assume most shows for kids in the 70s and early 80s were probably puppet shows (Sesame Street comes to my mind). So children grew up watching shows with puppets, it became part of their reality and normality. When I grew up (born in 1990), though, traditional animation and computer animation was much more prominent. There were all-CG films like Toy Story or films with human/computer character interactions (Stuart Little). So personally, I was used to animation of some sort from very early and puppet shows felt kind of odd (I could never enjoy Sesame Street as a kid because I just couldn't take the puppets seriously).
    Nowaday, computer animation is more than common and kids are used to it from day 1.
    I'm not saying our age or childhood experiences determine our evaluation of visual effects, but they certainly affect it.

    This is just my speculation (so please don't get upset, @anakinfansince1983 ;) ), but I've always considered this to be simple rationalizations or "proof" of their perception/opinion. Sayging "blue screen = bad acting" is an easy, yet probably inaccurate and fallacious equation to "prove your point". Same with "Director George Lucas = bad acting". There is no proof and indication even leads otherweise (e.g. since 33,33% of Lucas directed movies made an actor receiving "Academy Award" nomination). But it is an easy way to "back up" your point - even though, in reality, it doesn't prove anything.
    Last edited by Samnz, Feb 1, 2014
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  13. Agent Bishop Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2014
    Those are all really beautiful prequel pictures @Samnz! Have you been stockpiling all those images for a while? A lot of the prequel pictures I've come across have already been posted before I joined, but here's a few new ones I think:

    C-3PO on the Tantive IV Set:
    [IMG]

    Qui-Gon vs Maul on Tatooine
    [IMG]

    Not sure what the alien is...but it's something! :p
    [IMG]

    Anakin and Padme riding what will be the Reek, I think:
    [IMG]

    Jake Lloyd, George Lucas, and R2-D2 on set:
    [IMG]

    Anakin riding his speeder:
    [IMG]
    I'm not sure which set this is (Tantive IV cockpit perhaps?):
    [IMG]
    Some shots of Tatooine:
    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]
    Here's something really cool I found--the Kamino saberdart used in AOTC:
    [IMG]
    George Lucas mapping what appears to be a miniature General Quarters' set:
    [IMG]
  14. bstnsx704 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    star 3
    Awh man, this thread is great. Fantastic pics guys, keep it up!
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  15. Seagoat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2013
    star 4
    Yeah, that one was the Tantive IV cockpit. Jeremy Bulloch played the pilot, so no doubt
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  16. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Back in my PT modding days I started a thread called The Official Models and Miniatures in The Phantom Menace thread. I was going to go scene by scene and breakdown what was CG vs miniatures. I've done tons of research over the years as well as talked to a few people who worked on the film to have a very good idea what was what.

    Here's my opening post:

    Here it is folks. This is the thread to discuss and dissect the varied use of models and miniatures throughout Episode One.

    One of the common complaints I hear thrown at the prequels is the overuse of CG. Fair enough. But to make their point, many critics point to shots that actually were miniatures.

    Episode One was full of miniature work. In fact, it used more models and miniatures than the first three Star Wars movies combined.

    This thread will break down and dissect scene by scene the models and miniatures used in the film.

    So let's get started:

    Scene One:

    The Jedi arrival at the blockade:


    The red republic frigate was a scaled model.
    The model team also built a hero(main use) federation command ship that is first revealed here.

    The blockade of several ships was interesting. They shot the model from various angles and then composited those shots into the scene.
    The main use of CG in the scene is the planet of Naboo, but the CG was the sphere that a matte painting was then placed over.
    The starfields were all CG.

    When the ship docks in the hangar bay we see the scaled republic model in a scaled model hangar set. The opposite hangar arm seen outside the bay was a photograph of the federation ship model composited into the shot.
    The droids and droid fighters were CG composited into the hangar model set.

    Naboo as seen out the conference room window was the matte painting of the planet placed over the CG geometry.

    Scene Two:

    Federation Ship Interior and Jedi Escape


    We meet the antagonists on the federation bridge.
    The front facing federation bridge was a scaled model populated with CG droids navigating the ship.
    The bridge behind the Neimoidians was also a scaled set.
    The physical set essentially consisted of the ramp portion the actors are standing on to the bridge blast doors and to the chairs where Tey How and the other Neimoys sit.
    So most of what we see on screen is a miniature set or two pieces extending the small live action set piece.

    The Jedi make their escape from the CG droids and the next model set we encounter is the ventilation shaft-hangar scene. The hangar was a large scale model with some model pieces combined with a CG droid army.
    The other view looking over the jedis shoulders at the army was cg droids with a model hangar shot.

    More forthcoming in the next few days...

    Also if you have any questions about what was a model or what wasn't, feel free to ask as I might be able to answer those. :)

  17. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Kerner went bankrupt but 32 Ten Studios, composed of former ILM model makers, moved into the old ILM Kerner site(that's how they got their name 3210 Kerner Blvd was ILM's old address). They worked with ILM on The Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim last Summer. They could be called on to rally the many model freelancers who call the bay area home.
    Most model makers at ILM always worked on a per job basis anyway. There were some vets who were employees, but ILM model shop would always pull from a large pool of freelancers when they crewed up for big model builds for shows.

    32Ten has those same connections and networks ready to go.

    Frankly, I would love it if Kathy Kennedy convinced the Disney brass to just buy the old Kerner site(at least the main stage, old model/creature shop, and outdoor slab) and reopen the ILM model shop but that's just a fan's dream.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 4, 2014
  18. The Hellhammer 7SA Forum Interrogator

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2012
    star 5
    Wow, 90% of these are totally new to me. Awesome stuff, truly awesome.
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  19. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    [IMG].

    I saw this one up. This is the Kaminoan throne room where Kenobi and Kamino PM converse. Notice the little spoon chairs even. The person in the pic is VFX DOP Patrick Sweeney.

    [IMG]

    Now this one: the announcer's booth is a miniature, complete with little monitors.

    [IMG]

    This provides a nice aerial view of how extensive the pod race arena miniature was….and that's just one end not what's under camera.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 5, 2014
  20. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
  21. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I do know of at least one practical bit from the opening space battle in ROTS. When one of those buzz droids cuts Kenobi's droids dome off. That droid and the wing is a practical element with a CG buzz droid. There are images out there of the wing built and shot at ILM but let me see if I can find it.

    [IMG]




    [IMG]

    They also built Anakin's wing. I still need to find the BTS one showing ILMers working on the stage with the wing. It's out there. Let me see what I can do.

    Here it is: Uuh, yeah that looks like more than a wing. That looks like his whole ship! That is ILMer Charlie Bailey prepping it for shoot:

    [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 5, 2014
  22. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Someone posted an exterior view of this same Kaminoan miniature. Here is the interior hallway. This is when Lama Su? is showing Kenobi the clones in various stages of development:

    [IMG]

    Another shot from the battle of Coruscant showing Kenobi's fighter and droid doing some repair work:
    [IMG]

    And finally, ILM model makers creating a miniature landscape for the battle of Geonosis:

    [IMG]

    The ground level model shot of that finished landscape:
    [IMG]




    That landscape was used for this shot and perhaps shot from other angles for other shots.
    [IMG]

    Final confirmation: This was on ILM's old website. They built full size props for both Kenobi's and Anakin's fighters.

    [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 5, 2014
  23. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    Good to see @ShaneP around. Question for you: how do you suppose that astute people like Abrams and Mark Hamill seem to be blind to the non-CG work of the Prequels?

    Other than the throwback to 35mm I don't see how VII will be any different. Or how it might top the Prequel's volume of practical FX.
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  24. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2012
    star 3
    Just curious, but what did Mark Hamill have to say on the subject?
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  25. TX-20 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2013
    star 3
    Seeing all these wondrous pictures really makes me want an in depth, three hour plus documentary on the making of each prequel. Similar to what was done for the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films.
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