Which is better? Models or CGI?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Travis D, Oct 9, 2001.

  1. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    I'm getting pissed off by CGI in movies lately. I REALLY didn't like the use of CGI in Episode I. Star Wars is about models, not cartoony CGI spaceships.
    Now you may say, "but cgi is the norm and can look better than models." I would just tell you to look at Independence Day. It is the best example of models with a slight combination of CGI. ID4 is to my knowledge the last space movie to use models as it's main star vehicles. That is sad too, because any ship from it looked better than all the CGI ships from Wing Commander, SW:SE, and Episode I combined.
    The only saving grace for CGI could be the upcoming ST:TMP special edition. From the things I've heard, they've tried to recreate the look of a model as much as possible.
    So I ask you the question. What do you like for your assorted space transportation in movies? CGI or models?
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  3. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I believe at the very least they probably used models of all the vehicals that were laserscanned into the digital realm, and then animated, so it's not like the ships were just built up from scratch in the computer, they have their base in reality. This is how the fighter jets and alien attackers were done in 'ID4'.
    But, I do understand what your getting at, I prefer models as well, one only needs look at 'Titanic' for a virtual class on how you should use models when making a film, BUT a model, even one as highly detailed as the one used in 'Titanic' will not look absolutly real if it wasn't augmented with CGI, the passengers, smoke, water, sky, clouds, and even the artificial sunlight in combination with the model made those shots photo real. So I believe that when done right, the two technologies can compliment one another for a seamless effect.
    I could not agree more that 'TPM' was just gratuitous CGI when it wasn't nesessary alot of the time, Jar Jar for instance would have been much more believable if he were done with special make-up and animatronic effects, still annoying as hell, but more believable.
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  4. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Personally, I think that the situation should dictate whether or not CGI or models should be used. For example, whenever a closeup shot of a spaceship is shown, a model should be used as intricate details such as the surface or guns need to be seen. Here, CGI would make things look really fake. During fast motion of objects, spaceships again being the example, I think CGI should be used.
    Besides Jar Jar Binks (he still looks like a cartoon), I thought the CGI in Episode I was used to great effect. Just look at the city of Corsucant. It is extremely gorgeous. When the Jedi Knights first arrived in Coruscant, the flying ships (reminiscent of what conceptual artists during the 20's thought big cities would be like) were all blurred in the background. Any shot closer to the viewer were all beautiful CGI, (cityscapes for example).
    Another successful use of CGI/model use is Jurrasic Park. On faraway or running shots of the T-rex, CGI is used where as using models would just be jerky and so forth (clay animation anybody?). But during closeups of the T-Rex, models are used once again.
    As you can see, I'm a huge supporter of both. It's got its time and place.
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  5. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    quote: And here I thought it was about the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker.[/quote]
    Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize I that George Lucas came up with a story based characters and not spaceships. I've really gotta watch those suckers again. [​IMG]
    What I meant to say was that Ep. I didn't have the feel of the original 3 because of it's overuse of CGI. Star Wars is about "the use" of models because of the realness in them. Even from the first shot of the movie, the feeling was not there because until then every SW film had begun with a model shot. When TPM began it had a cartoony CGI ship whereas a model would have done better with that close up.
    John put it best when he stated the example of Titanic. It is a good looking base model, but has been "touched up" with computers adding things like sky and people aboard. In that instance CGI and physical fx helped each other without overwhelming each other.
    Another example of this type of movie making is Event Horizon. Awesome looking model ship that has been helped with CGI. Now if the ship had been made completley from a computer, I have no doubt in my mind it would not have looked half as good. Still, I wait for the day when CGI and the people who weild it prove me wrong. When that day comes, it will mean that directors and people involved will no longer have to worry if it looks good enough. They can worry about what will be done with it and it's part of a story.
    [Edited last by Travis D on October 09, 2001 at 11:12 PM]
     
  6. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Return Of The Jedi still has the most overwhelmingly stunning space battle in the history of film. And it's all models.
     
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Ive liked the CGI dinosaurs,CGI monsters have been a mixed bag.
    Ive liked CGI for unnatural backgrounds.Meaning:Corsucant(sp?)looked great but The Naboo battlefield was just horrible-the grass and clouds looked terrible and fake - my friend said "What is this,f*cking Toy Story or what"
    I didnt like the ships in SW:TPM or ST:Insurrection. I prefer the models for space ships.
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  8. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    I saw an Easter Egg clip on TPM disc 2 of Lucas comparing Jabba the Hutt eating a frog in TPM and in ROTJ. They showed clips from both movies and I was surprised how fake looking Jabba and the frog looked in ROTJ.
    That being said, I wasn't very impressed with the CGI space battle in TPM, and the battle of Endor in ROTJ is defintely the greatest space battle I've ever seen.
     
  9. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I agree completely with Dome V. Generally, I prefer models and CGI should be used to augment them.
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  10. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Second Unit

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    Many people have said this before and I'll say it again, the model work in Star Trek The Next Generation is perfect. Whenever we see shots of the Enterprise from outside, you really feel the sense of scale. (The fact that there's a tiny person walking around the conference room in the intro makes the illusion all the more convincing) I really believed that Captain Picard and his crew were physically walking around inside that massive spacecraft. It is so much better than the CGi work of newer Star Treks. I admit the shots look more beautiful, but the realism simply is not there. The interior shots do look photorealistic, but when you cut to outside, the overall look just changes. The interior just seem more like sets.
    I still believe that CGi should only be used when it is absolutly impossible to do something otherwise. Such as the still jaw-dropping T1000 effects of Terminator 2. It's simply impossible to do that with models. (Although anyone willing to try is welcome to!) I also don't like it when they throw in CGi simply to make the film more pretty. I enjoyed The Mummy Returns, but the movie embarrased itself with the Scorpion King scene. (Did The Rock even do that much acting?)
     
  11. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    Models tend to have a feeling of depth and realism that CGI doesn't
    I may be seeing things though [​IMG]
    Brent L
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  12. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    I have to agree with Star Trek TNG being stunning model work. Can anybody tell me if Generations and FC were models? FC had that simply kickass space battle in the beginning, was that CGI? If so, why can't they make it like that for all space movies?
    Maybe it's just the fact that FC was a good movie. [​IMG]
     
  13. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I think that part of the problem is the fact that CGI simply isn't good enough (yet?). The look is generally awesome, nowadays. But there is often something wrong with the movements.
    Look for instance at the 'raptors (I don't remember the exact names of these feroceous beasts) entering the house and the room where the kids are, in Jurassic Park. There's definitely something wrong with the movements of those animals. You can't say what exactly (too fast? too schematic?), it's very beautiful, it's very amazing, but it's very wrong, as in unnatural.
    Cees
     
  14. TomRS4

    TomRS4 Stunt Coordinator

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    There is a variety of models today, as always. I don't care for the looks of some of them - as a general rule the Paris runway models don't do much for me. Some of the models in advertisements on television or magazines are very attractive, while some I do find attractive, but not exceptionally so.
    Still, I have yet to see any CGI that could come close to the real thing. Sometimes models on the covers of magazines (and inside a certain men's magazine) are usually so air-brushed that they may as well be CGI.
    No, there is no comparison. CGI, or at least none that I've seen, can come close to a real model.
    [​IMG]
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  15. Ron Eastman

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  16. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Cees, I know exactly what your talking about when you mention the Raptors in 'JP'. And I CAN put my finger on the problem, as it's something that has always bothered me about CGI creatures in films, they are too fluid.
    Look at any shot of a CGI dinosaur in that film and you'll notice that they look as if their made of a blob of silicon, witch is accurate because silicon graphics were used to create them. They greatly improved the technology in 'The Lost World', they appeared much more solid in that film, and the animation software was improved also, giving them much more dynamic movements.
    For a prime example of the 'silicon' look i'm talking about, look at the scene in 'Star Wars SE' when Han is walking and talking with the newly added Jabba, you can obviuosly see that he just doesn't look as if he's really their on the set with the actors, and he also suffers greatly from the silicon effect.
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  17. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    John, Jabba is a big blob! [​IMG]
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  18. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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  19. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Take a look at Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey for another example of great use of models!
     

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