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. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    On the topic of why people may not realize that there was so much model work: I was just watching the doc on the ROTS DVD of how they did the Mustafar duel shots. The lava river was a practical miniature, and the shots of the straight miniature look really good. If you compare them to the finished shots, the finished ones have all kinds of color changes and almost an overload of 'stuff' moving throughout the frame. For me personally, there might just be too much going on - even if those added elements are also practical effects (like shots of real lava eruptions at Mt. Etna). The way color is manipulated in films today (compare to the 'teal and orange' trend), plus the way the frame is packed with so much Stuff... I think that may be what people are noticing when they say things like 'too much CGI.' It's not all CGI, but there is an actual issue there, and that's what I think it might be.
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  2. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Well it depends on how far they intend to go with it. You could go further. But really, the sheer volume of work done for the PT would be hard to surpass as you mentioned.

    Remember, I said in half-jest they should go stop motion for any mechanical vehicles. So, they could go all out old school. But I doubt they will. The PT model miniature work is astounding and brilliant. A true landmark in contemporary film.

    As for JJ and Hamill, I think they're just responding to the trendy "all-CG looks fake. The OT had real stuff" mantra we've heard for years. It's a seductive narrative because some people look for things to blame if they don't like the films. You can blame lots of things but saying "It's all CG" is not one of them. You could say "too much fx". That's a valid argument IMHO. But hey, these are SW films after all not Dinner with Andre. We expect some spectacle.

    Lt Cmdr Thrawn, I like your explanation. Some of the shots had too many elements. Too much stuff going on.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 6, 2014
  3. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    One of my many surprises I found early on was some of the pit droids were not CG but actual rod puppets shot against blue and composited into the shots.
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  4. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    So the pod racers. All cg right? Most of them, yes. But not all. One of the early discoveries was Mars Guo. Right before he wipes out and it shows him turning his head and making that "yearrgh" voice, that is a puppet.

    [IMG]

    There's the shot.

    And in the middle there is the puppet:

    [IMG]

    In the above left is racer Dud Bolt. He was puppeted by ILMers Danny Wagner and Mark Siegel.

    Here he is in the film:

    [IMG]

    Then there is Mawhonic, essentially a redressed Ree-Yees from the OT but with a different outfit and different skin tone

    [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 6, 2014
  5. JEDI-RISING Force Ghost

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    this is a great thread. I havn't seen most of these pictures. I didn't realize just how much really was non-cgi in the prequels.
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  6. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Sebulba's and Anakin's pods were also built full scale for the pod race. Some of the mid ground and background shots of them used models and CG pods, but all the close up interaction was done with full scale pods built by the ILM model shop. So whenever you see Sebulba close up in his pod, he is CG but the pod is practical.

    An example:
    [IMG]




    When Sebulba and Anakin's pods are slamming against each other, that is ILM stagehands creating that action between those practical props.

    Here's is Sebulba's pod:

    [IMG]

    You know when Sebulba crashes his pod and it slams into that sand dune and he yells out poodoo? That was that prop.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 6, 2014
  7. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

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    Beautiful design.
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  8. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Behind the scenes of the prequel fx. Covers much of what is covered here. This is a cut scene from the model documentary Sense of Scale.


    This has to be mentioned also: Jar Jar Binks was not all CG throughout the The Phantom Menace. All his full-body shots are CG. However, there are at least three shots of specific inserts featuring practical Jar Jar elements.

    1. When Jar Jar sticks his hand into Anakin's pod race engine to retrieve his wrench. That arm is part of the practical suit worn by Ahmed for reference. That was left in the film.

    2. When Jar Jar is asleep aboard the Queen's ship with his feet up on the table. The feet portion of Jar Jar are Ahmed's suit.

    3. During the Naboo battle Jar Jar's feet get tangled in a battle droid. The shots looking down onto the feet and droid feature the practical feet and a full scale wrecked battle droid on a small grassy set piece.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 6, 2014
  9. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

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    Wow, never knew they actually had some of those scenes in the movie! But it makes sense, considering they already had the costume, and there would be no point in adding the effect over it.

    I think Jar-Jar was originally going to be costumed, but the rubbery bone structure just wouldn't work. For the first major character to be all CGI, it was a big landmark. The rotoscoping used to animate a character based on filmed reference goes back to the Fleischers' use of it in 1915. Same idea, and the fluidity speaks for itself.
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  10. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Yeah, ILM did a test with Ahmed in costume with a CG Jar Jar head. Then, another test of Jar Jar all CG in the full body motion shots. Logistically, they decided to go with all CG.

    But those practical shots I mentioned slipped in. If you read and listen to ILMers from TPM they were really intent on spreading the vfx resources around to get the job done on time as much as possible.
    I think they just decided "That looks good enough. It works. Leave it in".

    Here is one of the shots showing Ahmed's Jar Jar feet while he sleeps(this is the I miss my mother scene I believe):

    [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 7, 2014
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  11. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    The Naboo Ground Battle. Not all CG. Not even close. There is an abundance of it, yes. But the naboo ground battle was constructed in a very interesting way.

    Dennis Muren went out with a camera into the Marin county hills and shot moving and still footage with a small ILM crew. However, when they got back from their shoot, they realized they had lenses on the cameras had created an squeezed look(is the only way I can put it) to the landscape. They were talking about reshooting it but then Muren said "wait, it looks otherworldly and it's just subtle enough". So they kept it. So most of the landscape and skies was based on film and still camera photography. They also shot grassy hillsides and grass they would then piece into shots as needed.

    A really nice image of the Naboo hangar and cliffside model with matte painting background and salt waterfalls:

    [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 7, 2014
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  12. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    This shot is a small example of what I explained above with the Naboo ground battle:

    [IMG]

    Here you have the photography of the Marin hillsides combined with digital matte paintings, CG and model vehicles, CG gungans and droids, practical fx pyro explosions composited into the landscape and the foreground CG Boomas rolling down a real hillside.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 7, 2014
  13. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

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    I've always loved the dirt that gets churned up and flies everywhere in that battle.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Yep. Real dirt. Digital sim work just wasn't that advanced then, if it even is now. There's also a shot of a practical tank that gets hit close up by a Boomba and grinds into the ground right close to camera. More genuine dirt.

    ILM: We love real dirt. :p
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  15. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    [IMG]

    More practical props. Built for close up shots of the probes.
  16. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Not sure when in ROTS this is(or is this AOTC?) but here is ILMer Richard Miller sculpting a jedi statue. [IMG]
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 11, 2014
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  17. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

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    Yeah, that's from the Jedi Temple:
    [IMG]

    Though a similar statue (probably created the same way) appears in Attack of the Clones:
    [IMG]
    (Originally, I thought that was the one being finished in the picture above).
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  18. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I think that whole JT background in AOTC is a miniature. I remember running across something about that.
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  19. FRAGWAGON Force Ghost

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    Someone posted a production shot of the model, maybe it was the long hallway where we see Yoda on his Hover-roundâ„¢.
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  20. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    [face_laugh]

    Hey the Jedi Temple did look sparkly clean.

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  21. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I mistook Hover round for Hoover vacuum apparently. I thought it was one of those round vacuums. Roomba?
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  22. Darth Maul Apprentice Jedi Grand Master

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    Great video. Thanks for posting this.
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  23. Oberst Hans Landa Jedi Grand Master

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    OMG! So many awesome pics! Thanks!
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  24. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

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    Thanks so much to everybody who's contributed to this thread, with a special shout-out to @Samnz! I really appreciate it. I honestly liked the stuff posted here more than most of the blu-ray extras.
  25. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

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    Six years before, the very first Star Wars had a CGI sequence for the Death Star readouts:
    [IMG]

    [IMG]
    Larru Cuba went through some painstaking work to bring this sequence to the big screen. CGI has been in Star Wars since the beginning. Denying use of this tool is disrespectful to the work of Larry and every other ILM employee who worked hard to create state-of-the-art visuals.
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