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Realism of modern digital special effects

  1. Aug 2, 2015 #1

    Stephen Tashi

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    Do you find modern digital special effects convincing and realistic? Will they look outdated 20 years from now?

    Perhaps I see some digital special effects and don't realize they are digital. However, big digital landscapes and architecture (e.g. "Bladerunner" or the "Indiana Jones..." series ) never look quite right to me.
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  3. Aug 2, 2015 #2


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  4. Aug 2, 2015 #3
    What will help date the current effects shots is a lot to do with the available software and computing power. Some of the latest rendering research is looking at using neutron transport, which should help with realism:


    "But d'Eon thinks we should look further than just other research areas that have looked at light, he feels we should look to areas like neutron transport - literally nuclear physics of a pre-computer era. "The neutron group often looks at finite heterogeneous configurations, they are Monte Carlo legends and had powerful approximations from times where computers were slow (if they existed at all). A lot of the ‘transport purists’ also seem to come from this camp," commented d'Eon."
  5. Aug 2, 2015 #4


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    Huh? Unless I'm missing some remakes, none of those movies except that last Indiana Jones(2008) (which many people ignore) had any digital special effects.

    Before Jurassic Park in 1993 there were mostly just bits and pieces of CGI, mostly not photo-realistic (or not really existing might be a better way to put it) animals or scenery. IE, T2 in 1991 had a liquid-metal terminator that was also CGI, but people don't have a baseline for what that should look like, so it is easier to make it look "real".

    What I consider "modern" in a fast-moving medium would have to be less than 5 or 10 years old. There is very little left that can't be done convincingly, with one of the last remaining issues being photorealistic humans (because humans are so familiar to us).

    I a Schwarzeneger movie [google] Eraser in 1996 that had a badly wrong 3d alligator.

    But these days because audiences will notice, they don't tend to do things unless they can be done right.

    Here's a timeline of CGI:
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
  6. Aug 2, 2015 #5
    What, exactly, is wrong with that alligator? I don't have the vocabulary to describe it, but it is the same thing that's wrong with all CGI when it's wrong. It's something about the way it moves and behaves rather than the physical form, which seems quite real and 3-d to me. The gator has "cartoony" emotions: it seems pissed off at Arnold, and it emotes in a cartoon-like way. I've seen enough episodes of "Cajuns Killing Gators," or whatever that show is called, to know real alligators don't emote like that.

    The thing is, that's an aesthetic choice by the film makers and not a limitation of the imaging technology. The first major crime of this sort was the character of Jar-Jar Bings, who had a 3-d presence grossly undercut by a cartoon behavior and kinematic aesthetic. He didn't seem to be subject to the same laws of gravity and acceleration as the characters played by actual actors.

    Generally speaking, CGI is actually far ahead of the artistic aesthetics of the people who flesh it out into characters or creatures. When it fails it always seems to me it's because the people employing it are stuck in a 1940's sensibility about how created characters should move and emote. They haven't let go of years of animation rules of thumb.
  7. Aug 2, 2015 #6


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    I tend to let "cartoon emotions" go because of the fiction of the movie. Im referring to the rendering itself; What is wrong here is the color and lighting. It is too flat and bright green, as if it were shot somewhere else and inserted into the scene (a scene with very complex lighting). The quality of the youtube vid doesn't do its badness justice.
  8. Aug 2, 2015 #7
    Wow, I don't have that objection at all to that particular gator. However, what you're talking about is more than evident in other movies. Films like Sharknado and Sharktopus do this on purpose because the point seems to be to make a laughably bad film.
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