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The best of the best: The SP-FX houses (1 Viewer)

Jason Harbaugh

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As these are supposed to be the most influencial fx films, I agree with most of the list. Influencial can mean a lot of things and cover style, technique, quality, popculture etc.

The Matrix's Oscar and placement in this list is very much deserved. Bullettime complete in its execution and use was something that no one had really seen before. It expanded on what the public expected in terms of SFX and it got people talking.
 

Chuck Mayer

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What amazed in FOTR was lived-in CG and excellent compositing, similar to what Star Wars pioneered in 1977.

Titanic should be on the list because of several reasons...use of CG for historical reasons, digital stuntpeople, and possible sheer scope.

I agree that The Thing 1982 should be on here.

Chris T, I heartily disagree. It wasn't even the biggest Star Wars PT Oscar tragedy. I would have put Sin City on the list before ROTS (unless you let me boot Narnia, then I'd put both). As far as the PT, Trisha Biggar got "robbed" more than the VFX teams. And the Oscars make WAY bigger mistakes every year than not including ROTS (which would have lost) in 2005. VFX is hardly a big offender in THAT category.
 

Chuck Mayer

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Another note: I agree that King Kong got JOBBED on the list. Should be #1 or #2 (probably 2).

Shocked to see no Matrix sequels. I'd put them on there ahead of dozens of those, including ROTK (released the same year). And yes, I'd put TTT ahead of the others, just for Gollum.

Sorry for the two posts,
Chuck
 

Mark Hawley

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I beg to differ. The effect had been seen in a number of commercials before the film was released, including the famous swing dancing GAP commercial where people jump up in the air and freeze as the camera appears to swing around them.

It was a neat gimmick - set a bunch of cameras up around something and have them all go off at the same time then combine the frames and the illusion of movement makes it looks like something been frozen in air as the camera spirals around - that's now dated.

It looked cool but I find it hard to believe it was more influential than the originial King Kong or any Harryhausen film. Pioneering stop motion techniques and expert craftmanship of stop motion armitures. That's influential. Motion control - influential. Using computer technology to render near photo realistic dinosaurs - influential. A bunch of cameras going off around something at the same time. Cool looking but not really influential when you get down to it.
 

JohnRice

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OK, I am not an FX junkie. In fact, I think that is one of the bigger problems with movies these days. Still, unless I missed something, I am surprised neither Pan's Labyrinth or Children of Men has been mentioned. I have to say the "assassination" scene and the final 20 minutes or so of Children of Men are among the greatest FX I have ever seen, particularly since for the life of me, I can't tell what is FX and what isn't.
 

TerryRL

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I was also surprised that TTT ranked the lowest of the LOTR trilogy, especially considering how well received Gollum's introduction was in that movie. I am biased considering that it is my favorite of the three movies, but the entire battle of Moria sequence from 'Fellowship' remains my fave action sequence of the entire trilogy.

I was also surprised none of the SW prequels made the cut. Despite the flaws as a movie, 'The Phantom Menace' to this day has some truly spectacular work in it. Again, I'm biased.

I was also shocked to see that the original "King Kong" wasn't among the top three with "Star Wars" and '2001'. 'Kong' has been considered the "Babe Ruth" of visual FX. I guess that makes '2001' Ali and "Star Wars" Michael Jordan. ;)
 

Jason Harbaugh

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Making a commercial and making a feature film are two different things. I don't know the exact timeline of the actual technique being pioneered but it is probably safe to say that they were around the same time, if not by the same company. Finishing a single shot for a quick commercial will be a lot faster.

Eitherway, everyone has their own opinion. I'm just glad the Academy awarded the right film that year and going by this new list, it still resinates today in the SFX community.
 

JohnRice

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It was always quite clear to me that the technique was developed for The Matrix, then used in the commercial, which was able to be aried before the movie was released. Also, the commercial did not use "Bullet Time" and the technique described by Mark is not "Bullet Time" but a freeze frame with the ability to move around the subjects. "Bullet Time" is actually quite a bit more complicated to accomplish.

Besides, it is easy to brush it off now as nothing special, but if it were really that easy or obvious a thing to do, why didn't someone think of it earlier.
 

Chuck Mayer

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Freeze frame isn't bullet time. Bullet time is a predecessor to virtual cinematography (used much more extensively in the sequels). FWIW, The Matrix also pioneered digital sets a few months before TPM, and had the single greatest effects sequence (battery reveal) in modern filmmaking. I don't agree it's ahead of Kong, but it's the only film since Jurassic Park that should be top ten.

Also, T2 is getting jobbed harder than anything. #14? It's the first major film to require CG (The Abyss could have cut the scene) to be photoreal and interact with people. It's also the first "modern CG/action blockbuster". That puts it ahead of JP (yup, which wouldn't have been made without T2) and Tron, in my opinion.

Still, fun list to discuss.
 

Jason Harbaugh

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What's interesting is that it was the SFX in Terminator 2 that led Spielberg to believe that we were ready technologywise to do Jurassic Park. Sounds like that is the direct definition of influential. And of course, both high on the list. :)

I'm really surprised of all the hate for Forrest Gump on another forum discussing this list. The movie is packed full of SFX, most of which is completely transparent to the viewer which just makes it that much better. Some of the best compositing in a film.
 

Ray H

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I fail to see how Tron is considered more influential than King Kong ('33).
 

Mark Hawley

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I'm pretty sure the GAP commercial aired around the summer of 98, significantly before the release of The Matrix. Aside from that, the "freeze" technique was done in The Stones' video "Like a Rolling Stone" which aired in '95 and in "Lost In Space" which was released in '96.

As for the difference between the Freeze thing (I believe it was once called Virtual Camera Movement) and bullettime, I'm not sure. I've seen behind-the-scenes footage of The Matrix and it shows Keanu in a green screen room with dozens of cameras mounted around him so while it may be more intricate, as the camera spirals around him as he freezes and twists in various speeds, it's still the same general principle - various cameras placed around an object going off at one, etc.

And didn't Radioland Murders use digital sets? Of course on one wants to put that on any(positive) list!;)
 

Mike.P

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Zack, I'm glad I'm not the only one with this opinion - I was going to post something very similar.

I'm almost always disappointed with work that WETA has done. Like "This is good, yes...but could be better." Other times, it's downright bad.

I'd be willing to put WETA behind R&H, who I think tends to be criminally overlooked when it comes to their effects quality.
 

TerryRL

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R&H is a great FX house and they also are greatly underrated. They've only received two Oscar nods in their history, winning for "Babe" back in '95 and a nomination for 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. I think their work in X2 should've been recognized in '03, but that year also saw both 'Matrix' sequels fail to earn nods. 'Return of the King' had the prize locked up that year anyway.

R&H are looking at nabbing a third nod this year for their work in "The Golden Compass", plus they are also handling the FX on "The Incredible Hulk" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" next year.

With WETA, the company got a big shot in the arm with bringing Gollum to life in 'The Two Towers', although I've always thought Gollum was a triumph in terms of performance rather than how well he was rendered. Plus, regardless of how bad some of the FX were in "King Kong", Kong himself was easily one of the best CG creations ever. Because Kong was so well done (as well as the solid work on the Spider Pit sequence), many were willing to ignore the disaster that was the Bronto stampede.
 

TerryRL

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With the new footage from "Transformers" revealed on MTV yesterday, it looks like ILM is looking to garner Oscar #16 in their 32 year history. Looks like their biggest competition will come from "The Golden Compass". Rythm & Hues work on the movie is said to be outstanding, plus they have only won one Oscar in their history (for 1995's "Babe").

Do not be surprised if "Transformers" and "The Golden Compass" end up being the two front-runners for this year's FX Oscar.
 

Jason Harbaugh

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From the look of the trailer for The Golden Compass, so far it doesn't look like anything special so I would put my money on Transformers. But they do have 6 months, where a lot can happen.
 
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Yes R&H has some work lined up that keeping me employed!

However I have to correct some mistakes on TerryRL's list of fx work.
Starship Troopers - Planet P Outpost Attack. The bug work was done by Tippett Studio on ST. They handled all the bugs in ST1 and ST2.

Matrix 1 was done by Manex. However after Matrix 1, Manex shut down due to creative and managing differences. Basically a bunch of ex-Manex people left the company and formed ESC (Escape) studio. ESC done the finished work on Matrix 2 & 3 along with Sony, Cafe FX and some other companies.

ILM AND Weta may be the big boys on the block but don't count out some of the great work done by mid-sized and smaller companies like R&H, Tippett, Framestore (check out the birth scene in Children of Men), Cafe FX, Cinesite, Giant Killer Robots, The Orphanage and so on.

I hope you guys are enjoying some of that fx work because it's killing us...

http://www.variety.com/article/VR111...goryid=13&cs=1
 

Chuck Mayer

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Great article George. Hollywood needs to be careful, or they will kill the goose who laid the golden eggs.

I like the democritization of the workload...plenty of the smaller studios do GREAT work. ILM and WETA have the biggest resources, so they can do more (the quantity of their quality is what amazes me).

I didn't see the Transformers bit on MTV (though I'm sure they'll replay it every 10 minutes). I'd see the movie before I make any claims about Oscars :) I think the voters like to see more than extremely polished CGI creations. Pirates (and LOTR before it) did well by going a bit further, soup to nuts, concept through execution.

Edit: The clips are spectacular, but if the movie is a turd, it'll hurt. But I doubt the movie is a turd. Nice to see some Jazz love finally (he was my first [and still favorite] Transformer). I also didn't see a thing in the Golden Compass trailer that looked anywhere near as good as Pirates, much less Transformers. So far, ILM is competing with ILM.
 

Kevin Grey

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The major thing that could act in Golden Compass's favor is it's release closer to the awards season- if it's a well liked film that does very well at the box office then that might make some feel like rewarding it with a VFX award (assuming it gets nominated of course). Transformers and AWE will be old news at that point.
 

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