December 2004 Archives
Yesterday we had a good viewing of all three LOTR films in their extended edition format. A friend from Atmosphere and I started at 10am, and finally finished at 11:30pm, with two small breaks for lunch and dinner. The viewing screen was a 37inch widescreen Sony CRT, with beautifully reproduced colors and blacks.
It's awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time, watching these three films back to back. All the little additions make for a wonderful trilogy. You can see the progression of the visual effects from the first movie, and the sheer overwhelming force of the effects in the final movie. There are some small minor issues which don't detract from the film itself, but something I would have thought would have been caught before that final output. Which brings us to our next Tip of the Week.
Black point. Objects in the foreground tend to have a lower black point that objects in the background. This is usually the case with extreme environments; matte paintings, set extensions, and also when CGI is composited into live action.
One of the rules is to match the black point of your CG to the black point of your film plate. You would never have a black point that is lower in the background than it is in the foreground. You can sample the color values of the darkest dark in your film plate and compare it to your darkest dark in your CGI. Do they match? Is one darker than the other? The color values may not be visible to you, but bump up that gamma on your monitor or TV. You're sure to see some discrepancies.
While watching The Two Towers and Return of the King, several of these black point issues jumped out at me. These scenes include Merry and Pippen on the back of Treebeard as he walks through Fangorn Forest, the Ents attacking Isengard, and the guard tower at the top of the pass after Frodo and Sam are attacked by Shelob.
And happy holidays everyone! Thanks for visiting and reading what I ramble on about.
Reference. noun. A work frequently used as a source.
In visual effects, this is the most frequently used word when trying to recreate realistic environments and interactions. Sometimes your reference may not be a realistic environment either. It could be a concept painting, an animation, pre-visualization, and so forth. Regardless, it's something you should always have when creating your shots.
Even in a wholly 3D created film, how do the interactions between characters or environments convey the sense of being there? Are their shadows in the right place? Does the light illuminate features that should or should not be there?
Only by analyzing reference will you be able to set the mood of your shot, and add subtle nuances to it. Even if your shot is one of many in a sequence, your references are the surrounding shots, the shots that contain no visual effects surrounding your shot.
I finally got a chance to sit down and watch some back episodes of this seasons CSI, CSI:Miami, and CSI:NY. They're all decent shows, but the original is still the best. All the characters are played pretty well, and straight up. David Caruso on CSI:Miami seems to be trying too hard after his failed acting career in film. Some of the tech on the shows seem a bit hokey, but all in all, the episodes I've seen are pretty decent. Last year I received DVDs of select episodes for Emmy voting reasons, and they usually throw the best episodes of the season in to be nominated, so it does cut down on the amount of fluff that I usually can receive!
I saw Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events last night. It was an excellent, surreal film, with some great visuals! Jim Carrey, as always, was excellent, and pulled off his role as the antagonist quite well.
The time away from work is going well. Everyone needs their health! It's the most important thing. Work to live, not live to work.
Another interesting film that I got in the mail today, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. However, it is on VHS! How am I supposed to judge a film that was entirely shot on greenscreen by watching it on crappy VHS tape? I haven't opened it up yet, but I'm not sure why they are still sending out VHS tapes for screeners, or even why they're still making them.
Have a good weekend!
Well, looks like another successful year! The show I'm working on, Constantine, has been pushed a couple weeks into the first or second week of January, so when I come back from vacation, my shot that was supposed to finish today will finish then. We received some really great T-shirts as a Christmas gift from the company, which say on the front, Tippett Studio: 20 years of Film & Commercials. It's pretty classy. Last year we got sandglobes (like a snowglobe, but with, uhm, sand) with a Troopers bug in it!
I'm on vacation, but I'll be updating while I'm on the road.
More wonderful DVDS from the Visual Effects Society! I received copies of I,Robot and The Day After Tomorrow. Both of these films have their share of excellent visual effects. I got a chance to see The Day After Tomorrow presentation at the VES Festival this year in San Rafael. Definitely a worthwhile seminar! If you're in the Bay area during the summer, the Festival is a great opportunity to see how other professionals tackle the same problems that you may be faced with in production. And let's face it, all studios have the same problems, just different solutions.
Today we had a little something special at work, a 15 minute montage of our past work that we have done over the past year at Tippett. Shows like Hellboy, Stepford Wives, and Constantine were prominently featured. We did five movies, three commercials, and Phil's directorial debut, Starship Troopers 2.
I was browsing both CGtalk and OffTopic, and noticed a posting about ILM's work in the upcoming EP3.. If you haven't heard anything about it and prefer not to be spoiled, don't read the next paragraph.
There seemed to be several screen captures of the footage that ILM is apparently working on, where Count Dooku fights Anakin with Palpatine in the background. Even though this may have been shot digitally, it stood out as an extremely fake shot. I'll hold judgement until the movie comes out, but I noticed this on the previous films as well. Where is the bounce light from the lightsabers? The cast from the windows into space? Where is the integration between the actors and the set? My goodness! I mean, there's smoke in outer space! Wow.
I think that if you're going to make a film grounded in pseudo-reality, at least do it right.. No smoke in outerspace, lights illuminate and dim appropriately, shadows are as dense as the real ones.
We're trying to make something that needs to be believable. Compositing is all about making it look like it was shot in-camera.
Well, since this is pretty much my first blog, there was bound to be some hiccups along the way! One of them is the conversion to PHP from HTML, and from Berkeley DB to mySQL. Oh what fun.. So if you can't reach this site occasionally in the near future, it'll be because of that! I'm working out the details with my hosting provider, and hopefully all this will be up and running correctly.
I just received my Academy Award screener for The Incredibles. Due to all the piracy which has been happening the last couple of years, they've finally started asking for ID. After filling out the necessary paperwork and being a member of ATAS and VES, I think I've met the requirements. I'm pretty sure my VES membership was the reason for getting this DVD.
Regardless, I'm very glad that they've decided to go with this format once again. I found it extremely difficult to try and judge the entrants by going to a theatre in the area! There was never one at the right time (anytime after 7pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends).
The last time I received a DVD screener of an Award contender was 2002. Both Catch Me If You Can and Minority Report were big hits.. I also think that was the year I received Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
This is my personal visual effects website. I'm not going to interview anyone on this site. This VFX log is to share with you, the visual effects community, the day to day and week to week musings of a visual effects professional in the film and television business. I'll also be updating this log frequently, with Tips of the Week that I've encountered that could help you bring that composite just a little bit closer to reality.
I currently am working at Tippett Studio on the feature film Constantine. This show will be ending on December 17th, with a final push date of January 7th. I will not be available for freelance or contract work until this show is over and completely wrapped. If you feel that my talents meet your needs, please contact me through phone or email.