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VFX Oscar longlist

Who should win the VFX Oscar?

Angels & Demons0%[ 0 ]
Avatar50%[ 15 ]
Coraline0%[ 0 ]
A Christmas Carol3%[ 1 ]
District 910%[ 3 ]
G-Force3%[ 1 ]
GI Joe: Rise of Cobra3%[ 1 ]
Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince0%[ 0 ]
Sherlock Holmes0%[ 0 ]
Star Trek17%[ 5 ]
Terminator Salad Nation3%[ 1 ]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen3%[ 1 ]
20120%[ 0 ]
Watchmen3%[ 1 ]
Where The Wild Things Are3%[ 1 ]

Total Votes : 30

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:13pm

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Simon K Jones

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The longlist for next year's VFX Oscar has been published, with a few surprises as well as all the films you'd expect:

http://www.awn.com/news/visual-effects/15-vie-vfx-oscar

Let the heated debate commence: who do you think should win? AND WHY!

Last edited Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:17pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:17pm

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ben3308

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Although the action and visual effects were at times mouth-watering, it's "Salvation", not salivation. biggrin
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:21pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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If Avatar doesn't win this then the whole thing is nothing less than an absolute tragedy. No other film is such an achievement, listed or existing in cinema on any level to date.

-Matt
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:23pm

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Simon K Jones

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Sorry about that, Ben. Have fixed it now.

Here's my take:

It's a particularly close call this year, I think, with many of the selected films being really top notch. I don't think I can really pick a favourite (and I've not seen Avatar yet...), but here are some thoughts:

District 9 - Loved the effects in this. They may not have been as wholly photorealistic as those in Transformers, but I loved their general integration. This was a good example of the overall style of the film really helping to make the VFX work. Everything felt exceedingly natural.

Harry Potter - the Potter series has had a particularly wobbly relationship with visual effects, yo-yoing between beautiful and godawful. After the previous film's dubious CG giant, it was good to see Half Blood Prince have a real subtlety and restraint, again bolstered by the overall cohesive style of the movie. Gandalf's big firey thing at the end is particularly awe-inspiring.

Star Trek - This seems to be a year for filmmakers finally embracing VFX as a proper tool, rather than as something special that stands apart from the rest of their filmmaking. As with D9 and Potter, JJ Abrams utilised VFX in a way as to make them largely invisible, despite having spaceships blowing up all over the place. A very clever use of sound really made the visual effects in this work for me.

Transformers 2 - Unlike the previous films, I felt that this was a case of awesome effects completely undermined by otherwise trashy filmmaking. Throw in the crappy robot design legacy from the first film and I'm not really sure what to think: astounding technical achievement, but total artistic failure. Raises the question of: should the VFX Oscar be solely about the effects in isolation, or the effects in the context of the film?

2012 - Destruction of LA and the Yellowstone detonation were the only things that made this worth seeing. Great work, there. Overall, however, this was a case of quantity rather than quality - not that anything was in any way bad, it just never really aimed for much other than TOTAL DESTRUCTION IN YOUR FACE RAAAAAARRRGHHH and, as such, felt more like a VFX movie from the 90s.

Watchmen - Solidly brought the world to life and made a glowing, naked blue man surprisingly believable. Really interesting mixture of the subtle (Rorschach's mask) with the in-your-face (everything else).

Last edited Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:26pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:24pm

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ben3308

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Oh, snap, I voted incorrectly for the name I criticized! Meant to hit Star Trek. Or, if you want to go on the basis of 'the original should clearly have won', Transformers 2.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 12:29pm

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Simon K Jones

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I'm holding off on my actual vote until I've seen Avatar. Seems like voting beforehand could be premature. smile
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 1:04pm

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Atom

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I want Star Trek to get it for how convincingly clever and, more importantly, appropriately the CG was mixed into the film footage. There's a creativity brought to the design and instrumentation of something so enhancing to the movie like the CG in Star Trek- and, since the Academy obviously doesn't give the award on technical breakthrough but on creativity and implementation (see Goldern Compass beating Transformers, or whatever beat Pirates 2 beating Davy Jones)- I doubt Avatar will stand above everyone else by that great a margin- at least on the basis of technical breakthroughs I mean.

Oh, and look at Mr. Matter-of-Fact-Halo over there. Is that the industry talk speaking? wink

Also, it's a damn joke that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is in this. I mean, sneeriously.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:29pm

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Fxhome Dude

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AutoTuneOverMiami wrote:


Also, it's a **** joke that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is in this. I mean, sneeriously.
Why? Although it was lame in story and stuff the VFX that I saw were as realistic as expected. They were pretty good if I do say so.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:37pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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AutoTuneOverMiami wrote:

Oh, and look at Mr. Matter-of-Fact-Halo over there. Is that the industry talk speaking? wink
In this case I suppose being a Professional VFX Artist does grant my opinion some power unlike where the in-joke is usually mentioned, which is why in random, VFX unrelated threads it is funny. razz I would prefer not to rely on that though.

What I would like to rely on is that I've seen all of the listed films and made my vote on that basis - Something that no one else in this thread can claim yet.

The Oscar beat didn't go to Transformers last year because from a technological standpoint - The Golden Compass was more revolutionary with it's fur simulation and interaction. Sure, there have been some pretty films this year - but none of them can be argued to equal Avatar in regard of scope and the evolution of the technology related to Visual Effects.

So, I'll say it again. I will never, ever value the Oscars as a serious mark of accomplishment ever, ever again unless Avatar wins the VFX Oscar this year. It's my opinion both professionally and personally that the difference is that clear cut.

-Matt

Last edited Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:40pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:40pm

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Simon K Jones

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

So, I'll say it again. I will never, ever value the Oscars as a serious mark of accomplishment ever, ever again unless Avatar wins the VFX Oscar this year. It's my opinion both professionally and personally that the difference is that clear cut.
I think everyone has their own 'the Oscars are rubbish' epiphany at some point in their lives. I had my own about 10 years ago when Fight Club didn't win, well, everything.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:41pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Tarn wrote:

Hybrid-Halo wrote:

So, I'll say it again. I will never, ever value the Oscars as a serious mark of accomplishment ever, ever again unless Avatar wins the VFX Oscar this year. It's my opinion both professionally and personally that the difference is that clear cut.
I think everyone has their own 'the Oscars are rubbish' epiphany at some point in their lives. I had my own about 10 years ago when Fight Club didn't win, well, everything.
*Despairs*
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:41pm

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pdrg

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Rating: +1

Problem for me is that VFX should not be noticeable - I figure if you do notice them, the film wasn't doing its job to immerse you fully in the characters and story...
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 2:52pm

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Fxhome Dude

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:


So, I'll say it again. I will never, ever value the Oscars as a serious mark of accomplishment ever, ever again unless Avatar wins the VFX Oscar this year. It's my opinion both professionally and personally that the difference is that clear cut.
-Matt
Just for that I hope GIjoe wins.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:01pm

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ben3308

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

If Avatar doesn't win this then the whole thing is nothing less than an absolute tragedy. No other film is such an achievement, listed or existing in cinema on any level to date.
Have you seen Avatar?
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:05pm

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Simon K Jones

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He has indeed.

I'm currently debating whether to see it ASAP once it's out this week, or to wait until the crowds die down. Tricky one!
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:13pm

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Arktic

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I only saw one of the films on this list. So that's the one I've voted for.

Oh, and I only went to see it because it was a press screening and I didn't have to pay for it.

The question is... which one was it? Answers on a postcard, please!
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:15pm

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Fxhome Dude

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I think I know. But what do you mean by answer on a postcard?
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:53pm

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pdrg

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Arktic wrote:

The question is... which one was it? Answers on a postcard, please!
Hmmm...take your TV show, extrapolate backwards over what review comps you've had...then discount the ones that the producers and talent snaffled...
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 3:58pm

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Staff Only

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

So, I'll say it again. I will never, ever value the Oscars as a serious mark of accomplishment ever, ever again unless Avatar wins the VFX Oscar this year. It's my opinion both professionally and personally that the difference is that clear cut.
I second that. If Avatar does not win, I would rather read the whole Twilight series 10 times than hear the name Oscar uttered within a hundred feet of me. Avatar's trailer beats everything else. Seriously: what we have already seen beats everything we have ever seen before. The amount of work that went into Avatar is completley unprecedented.

AutoTuneOverMiami wrote:

I want Star Trek to get it for how convincingly clever and, more importantly, appropriately the CG was mixed into the film footage.
I am sad that Star Trek was not released a year apart from Avatar, because that was some of the most natural and believable effects work I have ever seen. That being said...

AutoTuneOverMiami wrote:

I doubt Avatar will stand above everyone else by that great a margin- at least on the basis of technical breakthroughs I mean.
...this must be based on that you have not been following the VFX work for Avatar. They literally spend 10 million dollars on R&D just to develop the CGI tools and 3D cameras. Star Trek was a walk in the park compared (and actually a walk in the park in general. It wasn't the work itself that was impressive, it was the quality.). The post production for Avatar was so long that they had to revisit old "finished" shots because technology advanced while they were working. Avatar destroys Revenge of the Sith's and King Kong's records for most VFX shots in a film (RotS, and KK averaging on 2500, Avatar way over 3000!) + everything has to be rendered twice for 3D. On top of that you have all the different models they have to build. In Wall-E (with a higher budget than Transformers at 180 mill) they said they didn't have the money to make all the robots needed to populate The Axiom, it was to time consuming! Think about the plants, human hardware, animal-life and most of all Na'vi they had to build, texture, animate, light, render. Just think about it. Think about all the compositing that had to be perfect. The research and experience gained from making Avatar should easily push technology as much as The Dykstraflex did after Star Wars.

EDIT:

AutoTuneOverMiami wrote:

or whatever beat Pirates 2 beating Davy Jones)
Fortunately Pirates 2 rightfully won.

Last edited Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 4:22pm; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 4:13pm

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Simon K Jones

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Staff: The VFX Oscar isn't awarded based on amount of money spent or number of visual effects.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 4:15pm

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Staff Only

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Well I guess that's true. Money does play a big factor though. I can't remember anything with a budget under 94 mill (LotR films) winning in the award in the last 10 years. Have they ever released the official criteria?

And wow. Are you simply justifying the Golden Compass award or did you actually think that was the best candidate, Hybrid? (If anyone can make me a little less pissed about that win, it's you. While everyone was backing TF, I was backing Pirates 3 (Davy Jones and The Maelstrom was the biggest, hardest, CGIest action scene ever back then). I actually yelled "WHAT THE F***?!" really loudly in the middle of English class when I heard Golden Compass won in '08.)

The same way Avatar is the biggest VFX undertaking to date, Pirates 3 pretty much had that kind of cred in 2007 (the effects in P3 still look completley mind-blowing).

Last edited Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 5:25pm; edited 3 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 4:19pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Yeah, whilst Star Trek and District 9 feature some wonderful VFX work - it's entirely tried and tested techniques done well. There were no technological innovations, just good design. Design, which of course deserved to be lauded but just does not stand against the likes of Avatar in terms of accomplishment.

Avatar has had so much work done on it which is previously unexplored that even if the result wasn't a brilliant film (which it is) it would still be the strongest contender in the listings for a VFX Oscar.

That it is a great film seals the deal and elevates it above the other options. The closest contender it has is Where the Wild Things are, then District 9.

razz.
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 5:51pm

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Fxhome Dude

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Staff Only wrote:

(Davy Jones and The Maelstrom was the biggest, hardest, CGIest action scene ever back then)
I loved that sequence....
Now I just gotta go see district 9...
Posted: Mon, 14th Dec 2009, 7:17pm

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Thrawn

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Wow, I'd forgotten how many great films (VFX-wise) had come out this year. I'd like to reserve my vote until after I see Avatar, as should everyone else. Yes, you as well, Staff Only. You can't vote based on a trailer wink Here are my thought on my top picks of 2009.

Watchmen
Absolutely fantastic visual effects. Lovely to view. Most importantly, I got the same feeling watching the movie as I did reading the graphic novel, which was at least partially due to the visual effects. Throughout the film, in regards to the visual effects, I never found myself thinking "OMG THAT WAS SOOO COOL!", but that's probably why I liked it so much. It added just the right amount to the film, and didn't take anything away from the story line. If that even makes sense.

Star Trek
Probably one of my favorite films of the year. I wasn't as much impressed with the visual effects as I was with the (already mentioned) sound, which sold me on what I was seeing. None the less, some very awesome effects that I enjoyed. While this may not deserve to win, the nomination was very appropriate.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
This was a movie that I went to see purely for the VFX, but I came out enjoying more then just the visuals. I thought that it was much stronger than the first movie in regards to both the plot and VFX. I would not be surprised if received the win, simply because 90% of the entire film featured mind-blowing effects.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Fantastic film, but nothing spectacular. I'd agree with Tarn's opinion on this film.

Terminator Salvation and District 9
Deserved an honorable mention on my list. Both had some truly awesome effects, though I didn't really enjoy the films individually. I couldn't really connect with District 9 very well, so I may be a bit biased against it. Salvation was another film that I wasn't too crazy about, but once again, had some great VFX throughout the film.

G.I. Joe is simply a joke. Even the effects were terribly poor at some points, though people I know happen to disagree. Angels and Demons, while it's another one of my favorite films, failed to impress me in the visual effects department. The rest of the selection is "meh".

Once again, I'll cast my vote after I see Avatar in IMAX 3D this weekend.
Posted: Thu, 17th Dec 2009, 4:31pm

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Mantra

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Avatar!
Posted: Wed, 6th Jan 2010, 10:04pm

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jawajohnny

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The shortlist:

Avatar
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Star Trek
Terminator Salvation
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2012

http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/avatar-district-9-make-oscar-vfx-shortlist-12566

My picks would be Avatar, Star Trek, and Transformers. Avatar wins, no question.
Posted: Wed, 6th Jan 2010, 10:09pm

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Bryce007

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Avatar clearly blows the others out of the water for pure spectacle and scenes of photorealism, but I preferred Star Trek's integration and subtlety. It enhanced the film rather than carried it.
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 2:51am

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Atom

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As far as creativity-of-integration, I still think Star Trek takes the cake; even if it isn't the most exploratory or cutting-edge of visual effects in the bunch. The opening sequence, which I'm watching right now in 1080, is simply mesmerizing and unmatched on a visceral level than any other film last year. Any of em. And it's just a better film because of the supplement of visual effects, which I think is also an important quality that some, even my lovely Transformers 2, lack.
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 9:42am

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Simon K Jones

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Avatar does seem to blow everything away, but I have a real fondness for the work in Star Trek and District 9. In all three films the visual effects were absolutely there to help tell the story, and that's why they work so well (even if Avatar's story is a bit flimsy compared to the other two).
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 1:56pm

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Rockfilmers

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Avatar does seem to blow everything away, but I have a real fondness for the work in Star Trek and District 9.
I thought the vfx is Star Trek was really good and all, but the ten CG lens flares in a single shot really was a little anoying to me. I have not seen district 9 yet, but from the clips I've seen it looks awesome.

Avatar, I think, is the clear winner. While watching, I was constently forgeting thatmost of it was animation (and 3D). I thought that the interactions between the Na'vi an humans where flawless and the compositing was amazing.

2012, as tarn already said, felt like an old 90's effects movie like armagedon or something. There where a few good shots, but for the most part, it looked like visual effects for the sake of visual effects.

I was really impressed with Terminator. I thought that most of the matte paintings where really good. One thing I didn't like where the older aging terminators with rubber skin or what ever (I forgot what they where called). The looked like guys walking around in pieces of metal glued to a black jump suit.

Transformers, once again, had some of the best CGI and compositing that I have seen. One thing I noticed though was that they moved TOO fluid. We are talking about giant robots here, not ballerinas.

That sums up my review of the VFX oscars.
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 2:19pm

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Atom

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Heh.

According to JJ Abrams Star Trek was shot on film and all of the lens flares with or in real tracked shots with actual live action in them (as in not any of the all-CG space opera shots; but every other shot-even if it was just Spick in front of a greenscreen) were all in-camera. I rather loved them in the movie but can understand how it might be annoying.

But yeah: definitely not CG. Done through good old fashioned lighting, camera movement, and lenses shooting on film.
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 2:24pm

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Simon K Jones

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Atom wrote:

but every other shot-even if it was just Spick in front of a greenscreen) were all in-camera.
Hehehehe. 'Spick'. Hehe.

I didn't really notice the lens flares on first viewing. I did like the general 'sense of wonder' cinematography, though. The use of light in Trek's CG was superb - as with Sunshine a couple of years back, the CG people managed to absolutely, positively match the live action cinematography.

Don't know why everyone's moaning about the lens flares. Do these people dislike Apocalypse Now's visuals as well?

Last edited Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 3:16pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 3:14pm

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Staff Only

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Tarn wrote:

Atom wrote:

but every other shot-even if it was just Spick in front of a greenscreen) were all in-camera.
Hehehehe. 'Spick'. Hehe.
I really laughed out loud at "Spick". Dunno why though.

Tarn wrote:

the CG people managed to absolutely, positively match the live action lighting.
Not only lighting, but the CGI people at ILM actually added stuff like lens dirt, and made sure the light reacted the same way in the CGI shots as it did in the rest of the film with the trademark "Anamorphic" look (Star Trek was shot with anamorphic lenses). Secondly they developed the tools to mimic the trademark "Abrams camera shake", that Abrams developed during Lost when they were filming the plane crash in the pilot in a set that didn't move or shake. He (personally) drums the back of the camera like it's a snare drum with his hands. It gives a subtle vibration like there is a constant earthquake. If you look at his action scenes it really gives it a sense of speed and desperation without any Bay-style disorientation. The ILM guys built a small motion detector and placed it on a desk, then hooked it up to the CGI camera and drummed the desk like Abrams would. The best part is that when they explain all this in the special features they all talk in a matter of fact "all in a days work" tone. On projects like Pirates 2, Pirates 3, Transformers, Avatar, King King etc. the VFX people go on about how hard they had it (as they should), but when you look at what we got from Star Trek it's fun to see these guys standing there basically saying: "We didn't even break a sweat."

Goes to prove how far VFX have come and how good ILM is at it. smile
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 3:24pm

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Rockfilmers

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Heh.

According to JJ Abrams Star Trek was shot on film and all of the lens flares with or in real tracked shots with actual live action in them (as in not any of the all-CG space opera shots; but every other shot-even if it was just Spick in front of a greenscreen) were all in-camera. I rather loved them in the movie but can understand how it might be annoying.

But yeah: definitely not CG. Done through good old fashioned lighting, camera movement, and lenses shooting on film.
OH, I see. I was confused by this Fxguide artical.

http://www.fxguide.com/article579.html

"fxg: I really liked those flares!

Lou Pecora: Yeah, just remember that each time you see those that was one night that some artist didn't get to say goodnight to his kid. I like those flares a lot, but they were difficult to get back in there sometimes!"

But now reading back over the article I can see Lou was talking about the composting instead of animating. Oh well. I would have liked them if there weren't so many, but it was just to much in some scenes for my taste.
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 9:19pm

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Atom

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The lens flare debate is a tricky and all-too-common one with Star Trek (probably because the movie's just so damn good it's hard to find other things to gripe about, eh? wink) but really I think it just comes down to taste.

I liked it because I felt like it made the whole world feel more frenzied and bright and optimistic even- all qualities I've always felt Star Trek did/should embody; and for a futuristic movie and an actiony movie at that I just felt like they supplemented every scene.

The only time I felt it was a bit much was on Vulcan, where they weren't as necessitated- but even that I could forgive, because I feel so prideful when I watch those parts because my uncle designed, constructed, and built all of the temples and rooms they used for Vulcan, with their criss-cross patterns and such (I didn't know/realize this until recently)- he's a chapel architect and Abrams' crew rented out a few of the spaces he did. Yes, I think this is very cool. smile

Here's a few pics from our trip to his place in Arkansas last year.



As you'll notice, his chapel looks just like the Vulcan council temple you can even see in the Star Trek trailer. (you know.......because it is wink)

Meant to mention this earlier. As you'll notice in the newer version of Memorial we'll soon put up, there's a few 'Vulcan' shacks in a few shots. (We shot the movie on his ranch where he's designed and built all of his barns and house himself.)

Sorry to get so sidetracked, just felt like I hadn't gloated in a while and that I should share that, as I'm really excited by/proud of it. biggrin
Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 11:31pm

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That's awesome Atom! I really love that set. One of my favorites in the film. Your uncle must be very talented.

And about the debate I don't really mind the lens flares myself (and I've seen the film 9 times), but when even Abrams said: "I think we overdid it a little." or something to that effect I guess maybe they could have done with a little less, but not for my sake. My only two nitpicks are:

1. The trans-warp beaming doesn't make sense. Scotty: "I never thought to think of space as the thing that was moving". Yes, that would make sense if you were both going at the same speed. As it was: Enterprise had been warping for hours by then, and Kirk and Scotty were beaming from a small composite shuttle...over half the galaxy.

2. The ejection of the warp-cores at the end. SPOILER I think the slow-mo killing of Nero with only the epic Giacchino choir playing is the definitive climax of the film. Not only does the sequence with the warp-cores seem unnecessary and (slightly) anti-climactic, but it just looks like that explosion would pulverize the Enterprise.

All in all very minor nitpicks. Star Trek is the only film I have ever seen that instantly went into my top 3 movies of all time: Star Wars, Serenity and Star Trek. Even with Avatar I have to see it a couple more times for it to earn its place (which I think it will. Probably shared 2. place with Serenity behind Star Wars). I guess watching Star Trek is like injecting adrenaline straight into the heart: you feel it instantly.

Last edited Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 11:57pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 7th Jan 2010, 11:37pm

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Rockfilmers

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Oh, don't get me wrong, I love lens flares. I just think there was way to many of them. The movie was awesome to by the way. One of my favorites for the year. Possible franchise... I sure hope so! smile

BTW, that architecture is amazing.
Posted: Sun, 10th Jan 2010, 12:29am

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ChromeHeart

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Despite not thinking Avatar is a great film, the effects are absolutely awesome and much superior to that of Star Trek in my opinion. Star Trek was a good movie with great effects but I didn't like the constant use of lens flares. Avatar was all about the special effects and it took years to accomplish what they did. My vote is going towards Avatar and I'd bet money that it will win the oscar.