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Old 11-05-2004, 07:39 PM   #1
Rinfanawen
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Silmaril The reality of special effects

I've seen a lot of movie making in my short-lived life, and I pretty much base a movie on how good of effects it has. I mean, just face the fact...a movie can have a great storyline, the best in the world, but the effects of the movie can just really mess it up completely. The Lord of the Rings, though, had both storyline and effects. It was the most remarkable movie I have seen! Just to explain further what I mean, here are different instances in the movie that show just how great PJ's team was at making this movie:

1. This was from a picture I had in a planner of mine from ROTK. The picture was a picture of Frodo as he and Sam are approaching Mt Doom. This picture is taken some time before Sam's line "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!". Anyway, it's an upclose picture of Frodo, looking very horrid with blood-shot eyes and grusome scaps and dirt everywhere. For one, the blood-shot eyes look extravagant! Great movie makeup there.

But the part that really got to me was this scab of his on his neck. It's huge, wrapping around a whole half section of the right side of his lower neck. The chain on which the One Ring hangs is hanging there as well. The scab, for one, looks fresh, for the color is still an apple-red color. But part of the chain that carries the One Ring is actually sticking to the scab! It looks like blood has dried and stuck the chain to the wound as it dried. Part of the chain is red as if blood-stained as well! It's brilliant!! Usually I don't notice things like this, but it's an up-close, profile shot, and it's so realistic!

2. Might I add as well about that picture, the realistic effects to the fake ears! I'm not sure about Elves, but I know this is true about the Hobbits. In this picture, you can see tiny hairs on the ear tips. It's as if it was real human skin! That was great right there.

3. Then there's this up-close picture of Gollum. It's almost creepy how real it is! The different grooves in his chapped lips, and the wrinkles underneath his bulging eyes! They are so human-like that I just have to give special props to all of the CGI guys at WETA for that. This may sound stranged, but I feel sometimes like I'm looking into a soul when I look in Gollum's eyes! It's great.

Well, those are just the few things I could pick out from the pictures in my planner, but every movie is filled with these amazing little effects, whether make-up or computer, that make the movies so much better! I never really realized it before just how great it was. This is just my brief viewpoint on it though. Has anyone else realized things like this that just struck you in awe?
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Old 11-06-2004, 06:12 PM   #2
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Might I add as well about that picture, the realistic effects to the fake ears!
I love the ears!

I would like to add to your list.
The horses- In RotK, when we see Faramir and his men retreating from Osgiliath and the Nazgl are "swooping in and knocking them down" the horses look extremely realistic! As Peter Jackson said, I can`t tell the difference between them and the real horses!

This brings up something else. The Fell beasts (winged creatures that the Nazgl ride upon). I thought looked great! When reading the books I could never get a clear picture of them. PJ and crew did an awesome job in designing the look of them.

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Old 11-11-2004, 12:42 PM   #3
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As one of the jaded members of the modern-day moviegoing public, I am sometimes not very impressed with anything less than Day After Tomorrow. But the one part in ROTK that just blew me to the ground was when they CG'd and used the miniature in partnership to portray Minas Tirith. I had been waiting to see Minas Tirith since FOTR, having adored the description of the seven walled parts, and when they panned up the city as Gandalf rode in, I almost died of happiness. It was just so magnificent.
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Old 11-11-2004, 07:03 PM   #4
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As one of the jaded members of the modern-day moviegoing public
With you on that one, Beanamir!

And yes, Minas Tirith was almost breath taking. I also loved how they did The Flooding of Isengard. Marvelous.
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Old 11-12-2004, 07:16 PM   #5
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Eye

I was pretty amazed at the quality of the visual effects in LOTR. Usually when I watch a movie, I can tell when something is digitally animated and when it's actual actors on stage. (Like in The Matrix Reloaded when Neo beats up the Smith clones with the metal pole)

However, in LOTR, the digitally animated sequences are so much like reality that it's almost impossible for me to distinguish them. Although I already knew Gollum was digitally animated, he looked just as real as Frodo and Sam and it was kind of hard to imagine him not really being there. And although I knew much of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was digital, I honestly could not tell where the actual actors and extras ended and the digital characters began.

In conclusion, the reason that LOTR is so successful, at least to me, is that it combines one of the best storylines ever written with the most realistic graphics technology yet, a musical score that is one of the finest ever and fits the settings and events extremely well, and truly excellent acting and commitment from those involved. I think JRR Tolkien would have loved it.
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Old 11-14-2004, 09:35 AM   #6
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But the one part in ROTK that just blew me to the ground was when they CG'd and used the miniature in partnership to portray Minas Tirith. I had been waiting to see Minas Tirith since FOTR, having adored the description of the seven walled parts, and when they panned up the city as Gandalf rode in, I almost died of happiness. It was just so magnificent.
I'll support that, I was overwhelmed when I first saw Minas Tirith. It was a fantastic sight. It's sights like those that make the long, painstaking processes utterly worthwhile.

As much as I tire of hearing how miraculous Gollum is, I do agree that at some moments he cannot be distinguished between CGI and a real character.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:29 AM   #7
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to take a different tact, two of the times the effects stood out as not quite perfect were:

1/ as the orcs are running away from the black gate after the ring has been destroyed. they do actually look like computer generated characters. (not the wide shot of the hole appearing, but the closer shot of the orcs running off)

and

2/ the wide shots of isengard. It didn't look to me as if we were viewing a very large area, or were 'outside'. it might have been that the quality of the picture was just TOO good. it seemed artificial to me.

but to add to what great effects there were, and the DIRECTION that adds to them, one of the best bits for me was just after gandalf had attacked the nazgul with his staff on the pellenor fields. As he turns shadowfax to follow the escaping gondorians, the camera moves around and SWAYS, as if its on horseback itself, and mians tirith comes into shot for a second. Marvellous direction married with great effects. That's what makes them special........
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Old 11-18-2004, 01:31 PM   #8
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On Gollum I would throw in as well how hard it is to make the eyes and mouth work in cgi characters. I havent seen it, but the biggest knock I hear about "the Polar Express" is that how dead the character looks and how fake the eyes and inside of the mouth appear.

Of all the cgi i was stunned most by the Balrog
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Old 11-18-2004, 06:58 PM   #9
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Silmaril

For someone who grew up when Ray Harryhausen's animated creatures were the pinnacle of special effects, and for whom the first Star Wars film was an absolute revelation in this respect, I would say that it's all pretty amazing.

Although, to be picky, the long shots of the dead army could have been better.

Oh, and the lemming-hyena things were a major disappointment. Nothing to do with special effects, though. They just weren't Wargs.
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Old 11-19-2004, 07:50 AM   #10
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SPM you could throw in about 5-10% gerbil to that lemming-hyena mix
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Old 11-20-2004, 10:46 PM   #11
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Silmaril

Just saw Polar Express last night and couldn't help thinking what Weta could've done with that. In some ways, I think it could have been even better in the sense that the visual suspension of disbelief would have been entirely bypassed--one wouldn't have been distracted by wondering, "How real is that? That is/isn't CG. WOW! How'd they do that ? That scene could have been better," etc., etc. The acting, however, may have suffered since it would all have had to be motion capture. Unfortunately, no matter what form of special effects were employed, they could not have remedied the cringe-making continuity gaps.
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Old 11-23-2004, 07:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meela
I'll support that, I was overwhelmed when I first saw Minas Tirith. It was a fantastic sight. It's sights like those that make the long, painstaking processes utterly worthwhile.
My favourite Minas Tirith shot is after Gandalf spooks off the Nazgul while rescueing Faramir. The shot follows Gandalf on Shadowfax from behind as they arc around to return to the city. The integration of the live action in the forground with, the real landscape and the minature Minas Tirith seems just about perfect, and this is in a jostling shot that looks like it was shot from the back of a truck.

There is a comment at the beginning of the thread that I have to disagree with though, and that is that good special effects are necessary. Certainly it's great when FX and story telling are both strong, but I would take good story telling over FX any day. I can think of many films I've enjoyed with mediocre FX but none with bad story telling.

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Old 11-24-2004, 05:21 AM   #13
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hcisland.

great minds think alike....................have a read of my last post
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Old 11-24-2004, 08:09 AM   #14
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Heren Exxex - I would agree with you. The first thing that comes to mind is Dr. Who hehe. Cheesy special effects but with a good story, SE is not a primary nessesity.
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Old 11-24-2004, 07:37 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Essex
hcisland.

great minds think alike....................have a read of my last post
Oops, sorry Essex.

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Old 11-24-2004, 11:50 PM   #16
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Since I posted some of my nitpicking on the "Possible Perils" thread, I thought I should come in here and give the other side of the story.

I have to say, that I found Shelob truly frightening, and somehow intelligent and cold-hearted. Her movements were completely believably "spider" and yet calculated. A really masterful combination of some very high-tech effects and thoughtful direction.

Also, I thought the gentleness of the eagles as they carefully plucked Sam and Frodo off the slope of the exploding Mount Doom and flew them to safety was just amazing. I think they would have made Tolkien cry.
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Old 11-25-2004, 09:22 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by radagastly
Also, I thought the gentleness of the eagles as they carefully plucked Sam and Frodo off the slope of the exploding Mount Doom and flew them to safety was just amazing. I think they would have made Tolkien cry.
Oh, I agree. This scene is one of my favorites. The shot of Gandalf upon Gwaihir's back is so beautiful.
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