Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by LiamGonNeeson, Apr 9, 2006.
The Abyss Theatrical poster is on this banner collage. Was it the ground-breaking cgi work of ILM?
ILM did indeed work on The Abyss.
The work they did for the Alien pseodopods in the water was one of their most acclaimed works back in the day. I believe they were nominated for an award.
Not only were they nominated but they won the Oscar for best VFX. Though the main provider was Dreamquest Images, which did matte paintings and the underwater miniatures. Fantasy II and Stetson did most of the surface minatures, while Steve Johnson did the practical NTIs. ILM also did the additional shots for the Abyss special edition which first came on laserdisc. It's also considered the first modern CG effects film.
The pseudopod in the Abyss (1989) was actually optically composited, they ran out of time to digitally composite it into the shots. The first film that that that had all digital compositing was Terminator 2(1991). In the Donovans Destruction in The Last Crusade (1989) was the first sequence ever to be digitally composited! Hook(1991) was a mix of optical and digital compositing, and Back to the Future 3 had a few digital composites. So The Abyss had no digital compositing, so the first modern CG effects film was Terminator 2, not The Abyss!
We're getting into minutiae even T2 contained more traditional elements, since not all the work was done by ILM. It's not a matter of it it was optically or digitally composited. What I refer to CG film is the use of 3D CG, and Muren (and I'm sure many others) consider The Abyss the first modern CG film for 2 main points:
1. The Abyss was the first film where the CG was more or less correctly budgeted and scheduled. Before then if they needed CG they couldn't do that, it was difficult to assess how much time R&D would be needed, how much would it cost, if it could be done, etc. On the Abyss they were able to figure those sort of production issues.
2. The Abyss is also one of the first films to use what we would consider modern production techniques. Before, most CG was done with mostly propietary software and hardware (like the Pixar Image Computer at ILM or in many cases supercomputers like the Cray). In the late 80s the CG industry imploded when most of big cg commercial houses went out of business. The Abyss was one of the first projects to use graphics workstations and commercial packages (the pseudopod was modeled and animated in Alias PowerAnimator and rendered in Photorealistic RenderMan). They had dedicated computer animators for the job (hiring Spaz Williams for example), etc.