CGI: What the hell happened?

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So, let me just clarify. This thread isn't about how CGI is crap, and practical effects forever, or anything like that. CGI is a wonderful tool that has given us some amazing creations (Gollum, the Titanic, Jar Jar Binks, etc), and when used right can really present new, wonderful things for film-goers to watch.

However....

I was recently watching some clips of Jurassic Park for nostalgia's sake, and I noticed something. CGI has been getting worse in quality. Like, much much worse. Don't just take my word for it though. Here are two videos. The first is the T-Rex scene from Jurassic Park 1, made in 1993. The second is the T-Rex vs Spinosaurus scene from Jurassic Park 3, made about ten years later.

For the sake of fairness, ignore the close up shots of the T-rex in the first video. The shots consisting of just the head and front torso are animatronic. Instead, focus on the shots of the T-Rex in its entirety. Likewise, ignore the final shot in the JP3 video of the Spinosaurus over the T-Rex's body (!), as that is another animatronic shot.

What the hell happened?

I mean, I can't be the only one who sees a massive dip in quality, can I? The first JP film was one of the first films to use extensive CGI (and I believe it was the first to use CGI monsters), yet the T-Rex in that scene looks absolutely, completely believable. It composites with the scene beautifully, it has just the right amount of motion blur, the lighting is perfect, the detail just sharp enough to blend in with the quality of the film, it moves beautifully... it looks real. Even today, I'm half convinced that it's a real T-Rex whenever I watch the film.

The JP3 scene however? It's a mess. The lighting is all off, the framerate of the dinosaurs is inconsistent with the framerate at which the film was shot, the movement is overly blurred and fake looking, the texture details are far too high for what a film camera could conceivably capture... it just looks fake. And yet, the same company was responsible for the CGI of Jurassic Park 3 as well as the original film. The same company, with over a decade's worth of technological advancements, doing much the same thing as they did in the first film (big old dinosaurs stomping around), and yet it looks far, far worse.

This is something I've noticed with CGI before. There's an inherent 'unreality' present in the CGI of modern films that I simply don't see in the films of the early 90s. There isn't a single film out right now with CGI as good as Jurassic Park's. Transformers looks like badly composited, blurry shite. Avatar looks like an overly detailed, vaseline-on-the-lens Saturday cartoon. Even rewatching Lord Of The Rings, I'm struck by how flat and papery many of the CGI shots are now[1]

Why on earth is this? What the hell happened that after twenty years of development, CGI looks worse now than when it was first invented? Films are now made with twice, thrice and even quadruple the budget of Jurassic Park. How can that much money be spent on visuals that look so much worse? Are CGI artists trying to do too much? Are they trying to cram in too much detail regardless of what the quality and mm of the film require?

Anyone else noticed this? I can't be the only one getting more and more turned off by how 'unrealistic' CGI has gotten compared to its early days.

[1] Except the Balrog. That thing is fucking awesome.

Less spending and more outsourcing usually leads to less quality.

Yeah, nope, don't really see what you mean here, and excluding low budget films, have not seen any downward trends in CGI quality.

Jurassic Park 3 looks worse than Jurassic Park because the original was mostly done with practical effects, with the CGI basically being used to fill in the few scenes that just wouldn't work with puppets. JP3 was a lot more reliant on CGI.

Not that CGI automatically looks bad -- take a look at The Avengers and its leadup films for proof that it doesn't -- but it's pretty darned easy to screw up, and it wasn't as advanced when the Jurassic Park movies were being made.

Edit: Let's not forget, JP was a major movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and had special effects done by Stan freakin' Winston. JP3 was a threequel.

I think, just looking at the two examples, that it may be a case that as CGI has gotten better, there has been a tendency to think it is good enough. Let me explain: in Jurassic Park 1, the CGI is a bit shakier, so they cover it up through the setting (dark, raining, odd lighting) to hide the lack of realism. With JP 3, they think they don't need to do this anymore as CGi has advanced...whereas in actual fact it hasn't advanced enough.

Going by memory, I can't think of a scene in JP1 where a CGI dinosaur is seen fully in good lighting conditions under lovely weather. There's the brontosaurus/diplodocus scene at the beginning, but they are rather distant, which hides the problems. Theres also the scene with the stampeding somethingorotherasauruses, but the fact they are moving fast also hides the issues.

For similar reason, in JP3 those scenes at night and in the rain were more believable than those in broad daylight.

I am pretty sure that the first movie didn't use CGI, and that was a robot.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
So, let me just clarify. This thread isn't about how CGI is crap, and practical effects forever, or anything like that. CGI is a wonderful tool that has given us some amazing creations (Gollum, the Titanic, Jar Jar Binks, etc), and when used right can really present new, wonderful things for film-goers to watch.

However....

I was recently watching some clips of Jurassic Park for nostalgia's sake, and I noticed something. CGI has been getting worse in quality. Like, much much worse. Don't just take my word for it though. Here are two videos. The first is the T-Rex scene from Jurassic Park 1, made in 1993. The second is the T-Rex vs Spinosaurus scene from Jurassic Park 3, made about ten years later.

For the sake of fairness, ignore the close up shots of the T-rex in the first video. The shots consisting of just the head and front torso are animatronic. Instead, focus on the shots of the T-Rex in its entirety. Likewise, ignore the final shot in the JP3 video of the Spinosaurus over the T-Rex's body (!), as that is another animatronic shot.

What the hell happened?

I mean, I can't be the only one who sees a massive dip in quality, can I? The first JP film was one of the first films to use extensive CGI (and I believe it was the first to use CGI monsters), yet the T-Rex in that scene looks absolutely, completely believable. It composites with the scene beautifully, it has just the right amount of motion blur, the lighting is perfect, the detail just sharp enough to blend in with the quality of the film, it moves beautifully... it looks real. Even today, I'm half convinced that it's a real T-Rex whenever I watch the film.

The JP3 scene however? It's a mess. The lighting is all off, the framerate of the dinosaurs is inconsistent with the framerate at which the film was shot, the movement is overly blurred and fake looking, the texture details are far too high for what a film camera could conceivably capture... it just looks fake. And yet, the same company was responsible for the CGI of Jurassic Park 3 as well as the original film. The same company, with over a decade's worth of technological advancements, doing much the same thing as they did in the first film (big old dinosaurs stomping around), and yet it looks far, far worse.

This is something I've noticed with CGI before. There's an inherent 'unreality' present in the CGI of modern films that I simply don't see in the films of the early 90s. There isn't a single film out right now with CGI as good as Jurassic Park's. Transformers looks like badly composited, blurry shite. Avatar looks like an overly detailed, vaseline-on-the-lens Saturday cartoon. Even rewatching Lord Of The Rings, I'm struck by how flat and papery many of the CGI shots are now[1]

Why on earth is this? What the hell happened that after twenty years of development, CGI looks worse now than when it was first invented? Films are now made with twice, thrice and even quadruple the budget of Jurassic Park. How can that much money be spent on visuals that look so much worse? Are CGI artists trying to do too much? Are they trying to cram in too much detail regardless of what the quality and mm of the film require?

Anyone else noticed this? I can't be the only one getting more and more turned off by how 'unrealistic' CGI has gotten compared to its early days.

Some companies are just worse than others. And if you want some good modern CGI, look at other stuff that Industrial Light and Magic (The company that made the first Jurassic Park) has done. It's still fucking amazing.

[1] Except the Balrog. That thing is fucking awesome.

I don`t know that it`s a case of being worse, it`s just a case of it being more ubiquitous. Back in the old days, it wasn`t up to snuff and film makers knew that so they were more sparing in how it was used and how it`s weaknesses could be covered up. Now, it`s everywhere and there`s almost a sort of blase quality about it. Straight on CGI when mixed with live action still looks shaky in most cases, you just see more of it now than you used to and there`s sort of a level of acceptance of that.

Magenera:
I am pretty sure that the first movie didn't use CGI, and that was a robot.

Owyn_Merrilin:
Jurassic Park 3 looks worse than Jurassic Park because the original was mostly done with practical effects, with the CGI basically being used to fill in the few scenes that just wouldn't work with puppets. JP3 was a lot more reliant on CGI.

Not that CGI automatically looks bad -- take a look at The Avengers and its leadup films for proof that it doesn't -- but it's pretty darned easy to screw up, and it wasn't as advanced when the Jurassic Park movies were being made.

Edit: Let's not forget, JP was a major movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and had special effects done by Stan freakin' Winston. JP3 was a threequel.

Not quite.

The scene I posted is a mix of animatronics and CGI. The scenes with the T-Rex upclose against the jeep are robotic. However, any full body shot of the Rex, or any shot of it in motion, is a CGI shot.

Ant that's my point. It's not only the animatronic shots that look realistic. Even the full body shots of the T-Rex on the move look absolutely believable. Something absent in the third film.

GonvilleBromhead:
I think, just looking at the two examples, that it may be a case that as CGI has gotten better, there has been a tendency to think it is good enough. Let me explain: in Jurassic Park 1, the CGI is a bit shakier, so they cover it up through the setting (dark, raining, odd lighting) to hide the lack of realism. With JP 3, they think they don't need to do this anymore as CGi has advanced...whereas in actual fact it hasn't advanced enough.

Going by memory, I can't think of a scene in JP1 where a CGI dinosaur is seen fully in good lighting conditions under lovely weather. There's the brontosaurus/diplodocus scene at the beginning, but they are rather distant, which hides the problems. Theres also the scene with the stampeding somethingorotherasauruses, but the fact they are moving fast also hides the issues.

For similar reason, in JP3 those scenes at night and in the rain were more believable than those in broad daylight.

I'm not convinced. The scene you mention with the Gallimimus flock ends with the T-Rex bursting out of nowhere in the middle of broad daylight to take one of them down. Likewise. the finale ends with the T-Rex appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the atrium to take down the raptors. Both of those shots are filmed in bright daylight, yet it still looks almost completely real, despite being CGI. The final shot of the T-Rex in the atrium is all CGI, yet it looks far more realistic than any of the T-Rex shots in JP3.

It's the companies that produces the said CGI is at fault and given that CGI is far more mainstream than it was in the past, there are many more CGI companies at the tasks of making it. Some of them are just more higher quality than others.

Back in those days, CGI was wildly expensive, so much so that there was no sane CEO who would ever consider a "budget option." Even a thirty second scene had to be rendered by 50+ networked Apple computers over the course of 2 weeks.

These days, my stationary computer can do that in a day. Not saying that automatically means it will be worse, but there are many factors in play here. First, back then, everyone were taught to cheat. Use rain, reflections, darkness, clutter, basically anything in the scene that can mask what you are showing or divert attention. We don't do this anymore. Thus, often results tend to be plasticy, but studios have kind of stopped caring a bit because the audience are so used to it by now. Thus, they don't really spend resources post-producing too much.

In the case of movies like Transformers, Battleship etc. yeah I'll agree that it has gotten worse. But studios these days mass produce movies like that, and everything has the highest possible profit margin in mind.

That's not to say really good CG doesn't happen anymore. Hell, a tiny British film studio did this with Reign of Fire:

And that was 11 years ago.

Also, consider that where studios used to mix CG and reality as much as possible, just animating a character in a real setting, they have started to use more and more CG to the point where almost everything or indeed, everything, is CG. Let's take the CGI trailers for the game The Secret World for example:

It's impossible to argue that this CG is in any way worse than that of Jurassic Park, but because everything is CG it's much easier to find flaws.

And then there's the stylized look many films go for nowadays too. Like I said, many factors.

I heard a theory somewhere, that it's down to the type of people who created effect at the time. Back before CGI was around, practical effect were time-consuming and laborious to make. As a result industy professionals worked to a certain standard. When CGI started to become more widespread, that work ethic carried over with it.

I don't know how much truth there is to this, but it's interesting theory.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Okay, I stand partially corrected. However, you still haven't countered the fact that Stan Winston did the effects in JP, while JP3 was a second sequel made mainly because the studio wanted more money. CGI is nothing if not art, and if the artist is lazy, it can wind up being /really/ crappy. For that matter, it wasn't just Stan Winston on JP. It was Stan Winston working with ILM. It that's not a recipe for awesome special effects, I don't know what is.

One final point: look at the shot of brontosaurs at the beginning of the movie, the one where they're in broad daylight. They look fake. In fact, fake enough that it was noticeable on my old VHS copy of the movie, which is saying something.

Edit: Actually, I looked it up, and ILM and Stan Winston both worked on both movies. Now I'm really confused, because ILM is /still/ doing the best effects in the business, only really rivaled by Weta Workshop. Weird.

CGI is awesome, but it has to be used intelligently.

Know your limits. Jurassic Park did (dinosaurs constantly moving fast, appearing in the dark, far away, or through fog/rain etc.) Jurassic Park 3 didn't, and had unobstructed scenes in broad daylight which really showed the limits of the tech they used.

The technology has advanced. CGI has gotten better in general.

That doesn't mean it can't be used in a bad way. Just like everything else.

First of all you must realize that night shots are CGI's best friend. Take the scene with Gollum at the Forbidden Pool from The Two Towers...

It's the most realistic he looks in the entire trilogy simply because it's at night, which gives great lighting contrast, same with the
T-Rex. But when you see him during the daylight he looks a whole lot more fuzzy, because the light is coming from all over the place instead of one single source. That scene where the T-Rex breaks through the treeline while hunting looks pretty bad by today's standards.

And I did notice one issue with the T-Rex in the scene you posted: If you look at its left foot when it's flipping the car, you'll notice it's not registering too well with the ground as the camera follows the car.

In Peter Jackson's King Kong, Kong looks fantastically realistic throughout the entire Skull Island part, but as soon as they get him to New York he starts to look off. Especially in the scene where he's sitting on top of the Empire State Building in the light of dawn.

Also, Jurassic Park 3 was a run-of-the-mill sequel, whereas the original was handled with much greater care in terms of the special effects.

These days movies are filled to the brim with CGI and they don't have time to light every scene accordingly.

You also need a good visual effects designer, which not every movie has.

Owyn_Merrilin:

Okay, I stand partially corrected. However, you still haven't countered the fact that Stan Winston did the effects in JP

Stan Winston was a live-action special effects legend. He specialised in actual physical models. He created the T-Rex head and legs, as well as the sick triceratops and animatronic raptors (and much more).

ILM did the CGI.

Casual Shinji:
First of all you must realize that night shots are CGI's best friend. Take the scene with Gollum at the Forbidden Pool from The Two Towers...

It's the most realistic he looks in the entire trilogy simply because it's at night, which gives great lighting contrast, same with the
T-Rex. But when you see him during the daylight he looks a whole lot more fuzzy, because the light is coming from all over the place instead of one single source. That scene where the T-Rex breaks through the treeline while hunting looks pretty bad by today's standards.

Interesting notion. I disagree though, and here's why.

A little while ago, I watched Starship Troopers again for the first time in ages. Not only that, but I watched it in HD format, on a massive great widescreen telly. I'm assuming you've seen it, but if not, then it's another mid-90s film with extensive CGI. And most importantly, it has tons of daylight shots. The first battle between the marines and the bugs takes place at night, but after that, it's pretty much all done in daylight, with the giant bugs all caught in bright light. And yet, Starship Troopers is another film which to this day I feel holds up in terms of CG, much more so than any other recent sci-fi film. The bugs in Starship Troopers look realistic, and move completely believable. There's a shot towards the end where they wheel out the Brainbug. It's a giant fleshy heap of eyes and blubber, shot in a brightly lit cave, yet it still looks incredibly realistic. Parts of the shot were animatronic, yet the full body shots where it's being carried around by smaller bugs are all CG, and they're no less convincing despite this.

Having read up on the issue a little bit, I think the issue seems to be the quality of staff. Both Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers had experienced stop-motion animation veterans, people who specialise in knowing how animals move, supervising and directing the CG animation of the various. If I remember rightly, with Jurassic Park, they actually created a rig that allowed the stop-motion guys to animate the dinosaurs using computer-linked amatures, while the Starship Troopers guys created computer linked puppets that allowed them to animate the bugs in real time by moving the puppets in various ways.

I guess this is what I feel is missing in all these later films. All these new CG shots are being made from a technician's perspective, not from a craftman's perspective. It's like animators are constantly trying to include more detail and more motion blur because they can, rather than stopping to think if they need to.

In Peter Jackson's King Kong, Kong looks fantastically realistic throughout the entire Skull Island part, but as soon as they get him to New York he starts to look off. Especially in the scene where he's sitting on top of the Empire State Building in the light of dawn.

Hmmm... personally, I found King Kong rather unconvincing even on the island. Kong's animation was pretty stellar, don't get me wrong, but I found the uber-detailed render of every single one of his hairs, and the individual movement of said hairs, to be somewhat distracting. Maybe a real life 40 foot gorilla would have wavy hair like that, but personally, I found it to be rather too detailed to really mesh with the actors. And the dinosaurs and monsters in the film were pretty abysmal I thought, purely on a technical level. I've noticed with a lot of WETA's stuff that not only do a lot of their creatures follow the same concrete grey colour scheme (the trolls and fell beasts in LOTR, pretty much any dinosaur in Kong), but there's this weird papery effect with a lot of their monsters. I think it's to do with the motion blur they use, combined with the relative lack of texture on a lot of their monsters. It makes them look comparatively flat compared to the rest of the shot. If you want an example, just look at the crickets covering Adrian Brody when he falls into the bug pit. It's like there's small-scale blurry screen-tearing going on with them, the same sort that you see in games sometimes.

You also need a good visual effects designer, which not every movie has.

This is very true. I think part of the reason that Terminator 2 still looks as good today as it does is because Cameron isn't just an action director, he's also one well of a visual director too. At least, when he's not directing Avatar...

Private Custard:

Owyn_Merrilin:

Okay, I stand partially corrected. However, you still haven't countered the fact that Stan Winston did the effects in JP

Stan Winston was a live-action special effects legend. He specialised in actual physical models. He created the T-Rex head and legs, as well as the sick triceratops and animatronic raptors (and much more).

ILM did the CGI.

And if you'll notice, I mentioned that in a later post.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
So, let me just clarify. This thread isn't about how CGI is crap, and practical effects forever, or anything like that. CGI is a wonderful tool that has given us some amazing creations (Gollum, the Titanic, Jar Jar Binks, etc), and when used right can really present new, wonderful things for film-goers to watch.

given us some amazing creations (Gollum, the Titanic, Jar Jar Binks, etc)

given us some amazing creations

Jar Jar Binks

I know the words, but they don't make sense in my head...

OT: I feel that comparing JP to JP3 is a bit unfair in this case due to JP3 being made by astoundingly incompetent people who missed the point of seeing Jurassic Park and it reflected in their special effects use.

If you want to feel more positive about this topic, simply look at much better uses of the technology from that year (2001).

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
I mean, I can't be the only one who sees a massive dip in quality, can I? The first JP film was one of the first films to use extensive CGI (and I believe it was the first to use CGI monsters), yet the T-Rex in that scene looks absolutely, completely believable. It composites with the scene beautifully, it has just the right amount of motion blur, the lighting is perfect, the detail just sharp enough to blend in with the quality of the film, it moves beautifully... it looks real. Even today, I'm half convinced that it's a real T-Rex whenever I watch the film.

*sigh*...no...its not there are a wide variety of reasons hmm hold on I think there was a cracked article

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-7-most-common-cgi-screw-ups-explained/

try that

Owyn_Merrilin:

Private Custard:

Owyn_Merrilin:

Okay, I stand partially corrected. However, you still haven't countered the fact that Stan Winston did the effects in JP

Stan Winston was a live-action special effects legend. He specialised in actual physical models. He created the T-Rex head and legs, as well as the sick triceratops and animatronic raptors (and much more).

ILM did the CGI.

And if you'll notice, I mentioned that in a later post.

What I'm trying to say is that you need to just forget about the whole Stan Winston thing.

GonvilleBromhead:

Going by memory, I can't think of a scene in JP1 where a CGI dinosaur is seen fully in good lighting conditions under lovely weather. There's the brontosaurus/diplodocus scene at the beginning, but they are rather distant, which hides the problems. Theres also the scene with the stampeding somethingorotherasauruses, but the fact they are moving fast also hides the issues.

What about that scene at the end where the T-Rex kills the raptors? (scene effectively starts at 1:36 in the following video)

And then there's the Gallimimus scene earlier in the film

Though that said, I do think you hit the nail on the head. It does seem that people either forgot how to hide the more prevalent issues in CGI or just stopped caring enough to try.

Magenera:
I am pretty sure that the first movie didn't use CGI, and that was a robot.

The first movie used combinations of CGI and robots (how it should be) rather than relying entirely on CGI.

GonvilleBromhead:
I think, just looking at the two examples, that it may be a case that as CGI has gotten better, there has been a tendency to think it is good enough. Let me explain: in Jurassic Park 1, the CGI is a bit shakier, so they cover it up through the setting (dark, raining, odd lighting) to hide the lack of realism. With JP 3, they think they don't need to do this anymore as CGi has advanced...whereas in actual fact it hasn't advanced enough.

Going by memory, I can't think of a scene in JP1 where a CGI dinosaur is seen fully in good lighting conditions under lovely weather. There's the brontosaurus/diplodocus scene at the beginning, but they are rather distant, which hides the problems. Theres also the scene with the stampeding somethingorotherasauruses, but the fact they are moving fast also hides the issues.

For similar reason, in JP3 those scenes at night and in the rain were more believable than those in broad daylight.

Strategic dino nerd strike, the first dinosaur of Jurrassic Park is called Brachiosaurus. It was part of the Sauropod family of dinosaurs and was found in North America and South Africa and lived in the Jurrassic period of the Mesozoic. Its most notable feature was that it had nostrils on the top of its head. The somethingorotherasauruses you refer to is called Gallimimus. It was found in Mongolia and was a part of a group of dinosaurs to put it simply were called bird-mimics. It lived at aroud the time T-rex was stomping around North America and shared its enviroment with a relative of it named Tarbosaurus Bataar.

I think it's safe to say that as the technology has gotten cheaper, you see more movies using cheap CGI in place of the cheap puppets they would have used previously. Where people take the time and spend the money, you get movies like Avatar and Lord of the Rings.

Blizz happened, that what. They set the bar far too high!

cojo965:

Strategic dino nerd strike, the first dinosaur of Jurrassic Park is called Brachiosaurus. It was part of the Sauropod family of dinosaurs and was found in North America and South Africa and lived in the Jurrassic period of the Mesozoic. Its most notable feature was that it had nostrils on the top of its head. The somethingorotherasauruses you refer to is called Gallimimus. It was found in Mongolia and was a part of a group of dinosaurs to put it simply were called bird-mimics. It lived at aroud the time T-rex was stomping around North America and shared its enviroment with a relative of it named Tarbosaurus Bataar.

Indeed. However, you are forgetting one important thing: both Brontosaurus and Diplodocus (the British pronunciation of Diplodocus, that is, rather than the less funny American pronunciation) are inherently funny words

have look here folks

that "CGI" T-Rex almost ate someone...

https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/jurassic-park-t-rex-robot-almost-eats-crewmember

image

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
A little while ago, I watched Starship Troopers again for the first time in ages. Not only that, but I watched it in HD format, on a massive great widescreen telly. I'm assuming you've seen it, but if not, then it's another mid-90s film with extensive CGI. And most importantly, it has tons of daylight shots. The first battle between the marines and the bugs takes place at night, but after that, it's pretty much all done in daylight, with the giant bugs all caught in bright light. And yet, Starship Troopers is another film which to this day I feel holds up in terms of CG, much more so than any other recent sci-fi film. The bugs in Starship Troopers look realistic, and move completely believable. There's a shot towards the end where they wheel out the Brainbug. It's a giant fleshy heap of eyes and blubber, shot in a brightly lit cave, yet it still looks incredibly realistic. Parts of the shot were animatronic, yet the full body shots where it's being carried around by smaller bugs are all CG, and they're no less convincing despite this.

Starship Troopers is kind of the odd man out, where the day shots look better than the nightshots.

Also, back then they didn't yet have the 'sub-surface scattering' tech, which grants a softness to the CGI. Everything that isn't steel or mirror has some light penetration at the surface, and this tech allows that to be applied to CGI. But add to much and the image starts to look gooey, like every CG shot in Sucker Punch.

Having read up on the issue a little bit, I think the issue seems to be the quality of staff. Both Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers had experienced stop-motion animation veterans, people who specialise in knowing how animals move, supervising and directing the CG animation of the various. If I remember rightly, with Jurassic Park, they actually created a rig that allowed the stop-motion guys to animate the dinosaurs using computer-linked amatures, while the Starship Troopers guys created computer linked puppets that allowed them to animate the bugs in real time by moving the puppets in various ways.

I guess this is what I feel is missing in all these later films. All these new CG shots are being made from a technician's perspective, not from a craftman's perspective. It's like animators are constantly trying to include more detail and more motion blur because they can, rather than stopping to think if they need to.

Phil Tippett is the guy who was the visual effects consultent on both Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers. He was initially going to provide the stop-motion dinosaurs for JP, but ILM opted for CGI instead. That line in the film when Grant says "We're out of a job" is kind of a reference to that. But yeah, the guy really knew how to make shit move.

Hmmm... personally, I found King Kong rather unconvincing even on the island. Kong's animation was pretty stellar, don't get me wrong, but I found the uber-detailed render of every single one of his hairs, and the individual movement of said hairs, to be somewhat distracting. Maybe a real life 40 foot gorilla would have wavy hair like that, but personally, I found it to be rather too detailed to really mesh with the actors. And the dinosaurs and monsters in the film were pretty abysmal I thought, purely on a technical level. I've noticed with a lot of WETA's stuff that not only do a lot of their creatures follow the same concrete grey colour scheme (the trolls and fell beasts in LOTR, pretty much any dinosaur in Kong), but there's this weird papery effect with a lot of their monsters. I think it's to do with the motion blur they use, combined with the relative lack of texture on a lot of their monsters. It makes them look comparatively flat compared to the rest of the shot. If you want an example, just look at the crickets covering Adrian Brody when he falls into the bug pit. It's like there's small-scale blurry screen-tearing going on with them, the same sort that you see in games sometimes.

I've really never been bothered by that. King Kong was actually the last movie where the CGI really impressed me. And that's another issue - At this point we as an audience have become completely accustomed to CGI. It's no longer the magic it used to be, because we've seen everything it's had to offer. So even when movies throw it in our faces like it's the hypest shit, it doesn't blow our skirts up anymore.

The magic of special effects is that we don't know how they did it. That's what captures our imagination. But nowadays we know it's simply CGI, and we know what to look for. There's no mystery to it anymore, we've seen it all before. And we only get dazzled when we see something new, something our minds are not accustomed to.

The most impressive special effects I've seen this year was the creation of the universe in Tree of Life, and a lot of that was simply screwing around with dyes in water, just as they did in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sean951:
I think it's safe to say that as the technology has gotten cheaper, you see more movies using cheap CGI in place of the cheap puppets they would have used previously. Where people take the time and spend the money, you get movies like Avatar and Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings doesn't hold up so well nowadays in lots of places. I remember it being really convincing, but nowadays the battle scenes seem to be roughly on level with our game counterparts

Volume divided by budget squared by time.

As you said, the head of the T-Rex was animatronic, and a lot of the smaller effects in JP were the same. In JP 3 almost everything was CGI.

But adjusted for inflation Jurassic Park 3 only had about $10 million more than JP1. So with a volume of CGI increased to now include almost every shot seen in the movie, but not the same increase in budget, plus a development time that was the same as JP1 but with more to animate, there wasn't the time or money to make it look better.

When a movie takes a year to make and features maybe 3 15 minute CGI intensive scenes, plus additionall cleaning up and extras, it can look gorgeous. When a movie takes a year to make and features 80 out of 90 minutes full of heavy CGI, it loses something in the making.

As CGI is relied on more and more, but budgets and production times remain the same, it will lose quality.

And of course, there's all the stuff you don't even notice. Like maybe JP3 featured dozens of shots that were slightly altered to add shadows or reflections where there hadn't been any before. When Hitchcock released The Birds the production team received a comment about how a patron had been able to spot one incredibly fake bird. Given that the production team had made several hundred fake birds, this was considered a roaring success. Also, the film used 371 'trick' shots (as Hitchcock called them) most of which are still completely unnoticeable.

There's still good CGI work out there, it's just being buried by the one fake bird.

I think it hilarious you like Ja Ja Binks. Anyway CG is shit now because art costs time and money. Which is why every popstar sounds the same, videogames are homogenising and good CG is hard to find.

CGI takes time and money, a lot of time and a lot of money. Now a movie like Jurassic Park is a trailblazer for CGI - some people had reputations to protect and expand with that film, it had to make high quality CGI a viable option.

Dare I say it... it had to make up for the CGI in Alien3.

Now, Jurrasic Park 3 - that will be phoning in the CGI, not only will CGI be cheaper, the time constraints will be tighter and the technology has been replaced by cheaper technology. CGI does not draw audiences like it did 20 years ago, so there's no point in blowing the budget on it.

GonvilleBromhead:

cojo965:

Strategic dino nerd strike, the first dinosaur of Jurrassic Park is called Brachiosaurus. It was part of the Sauropod family of dinosaurs and was found in North America and South Africa and lived in the Jurrassic period of the Mesozoic. Its most notable feature was that it had nostrils on the top of its head. The somethingorotherasauruses you refer to is called Gallimimus. It was found in Mongolia and was a part of a group of dinosaurs to put it simply were called bird-mimics. It lived at aroud the time T-rex was stomping around North America and shared its enviroment with a relative of it named Tarbosaurus Bataar.

Indeed. However, you are forgetting one important thing: both Brontosaurus and Diplodocus (the British pronunciation of Diplodocus, that is, rather than the less funny American pronunciation) are inherently funny words

I think you mean Apatosaurus when you say Brontosaurus although I do like the latter name better

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