matte painting an interesting look to the past...

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Old 01 January 2013   #16
There was magazine/dvd combination (or maybe it was just a DVD) that tried to do the MOVIE MAGIC/ Cinefex thing. I think it was published around turn of the century, sporadically, for 3 years or so, and you could find it in magazine sections for ten bucks or so. Damned if I remember the name, but I talked to one of the guys behind it, seeing if he needed interviews done for any of it. You'd figure with all the channels now, that somebody would be interested in how movies are made physically, but maybe the studios hold all that stuff back for their dvds.

I just wrote a piece about how miniatures are still being used occasionally, usually for pyro events, but it was sad to realize how many great companies folded in the last 15 years. Cinema Production Services was an incredible miniature facility (rip) ... in the US it is basically just New Deal Studios (used to be called Hunter/Gratzner Industries) in SoCal and 32TEN (used to be Kerner Optical, was the ILM modelshop before that) in NorCal.
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Old 01 January 2013   #17
Originally Posted by Artbot: Sadly, it would be like Cinefex has become: People leaning over monitors looking at wireframes.

"Here we see artists (Wizards!) at work on Harry Potter 27: Grumpy Old Muggles. First, a wire frame is constructed in the computer. Then, texture painters fill in the colors. And like MAGIC! it appears on your local movie screen for you and your whole family to enjoy."


Indeed. And don't forget the excessive use of the word 'proprietary' for lack of actual informative details.

"Artists at AwesomeFX used their proprietary software to simulate the various water effects required for the end battle sequence and wrote custom exporters to render the simulations with their in-house developed proprietary render engine." Blah! Vacant reporting. I gave up on Cinefex years ago.
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Old 01 January 2013   #18
Originally Posted by DutchDimension: Indeed. And don't forget the excessive use of the word 'proprietary' for lack of actual informative details.

"Artists at AwesomeFX used their proprietary software to simulate the various water effects required for the end battle sequence and wrote custom exporters to render the simulations with their in-house developed proprietary render engine." Blah! Vacant reporting. I gave up on Cinefex years ago.


Not to defend a magazine I left on very bad terms with, but the 'proprietary' wall was pretty much that with most VFX houses.

On 'correction' notes we got back from Imageworks on STUART LITTLE, they tried to tell us we had use TM or the copyright symbol every time we mentioned some piece of software.

Shoot, because ILM had an agreement with SGI, they couldn't say they used Macintoshes, even though John Knoll was doings tons of stuff with them ... that's why we always had to say 'Rebel unit' instead of Rebel Mac unit, and reference Electric Image software w/o identifying it as stuff used for Mac. (oddly enough just about every other mag and book out there disregarded this -- I remember being flabbergasted seeing a story online when PHANTOM MENACE came out that was MAC this and MAC that.)

I understood that the mag couldn't really afford to piss its sources off, but if the cat's out of the bag, what's the dif?

Actually the not pissing sources off thing is how I got fired; when Lucasfilm sent over a draft of ATTACK OF THE CLONES for the editor to read (she was doing the 'making of' book), it was codenamed 'Love's Labors Lost' and even had Rick McCallum falsely listed as screenwriter. I thought it was pretty funny and mentioned it to privately to a screenwriter named Pete Briggs, who promptly told theforce.net and I was promptly canned, apparently because somebody was afraid I had read the script and would blab (Christ, I had to be ordered to read TPM, and I remember how I was amazed that GL was still calling the light sabres 'lazer swords' nearly a quarter century later. Like I'd WANT to read a SW prequel.)

Ah well, never be the non-family member of an all-family business (though it worked for my successor.)
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Old 01 January 2013   #19
Originally Posted by DutchDimension: Indeed. And don't forget the excessive use of the word 'proprietary' for lack of actual informative details.

"Artists at AwesomeFX used their proprietary software to simulate the various water effects required for the end battle sequence and wrote custom exporters to render the simulations with their in-house developed proprietary render engine." Blah! Vacant reporting. I gave up on Cinefex years ago.


Exactly. But I'm not sure I'd call the reporting "vacant." I think they just can't divulge anything proprietary, and that seems to be nearly everything. With all the secrecy, it's no wonder the process has become so bland.

As for the model shops that are still around, I couldn't be happier about that. I had hoped we'd see a revival of sorts when camera gear and compositing hardware & software became so cheap and accessible. I know there's a ton of model work in movies like the prequels, but I wonder if they just felt compelled to use them since they still had a model dept. at the time. It seemed to get phased out as CG models became more sophisticated (especially naturalistic models like landscapes and such), and fx like explosions and fluids improved dramatically.
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Old 01 January 2013   #20
Originally Posted by Artbot: Sadly, it would be like Cinefex has become: People leaning over monitors looking at wireframes.

"Here we see artists (Wizards!) at work on Harry Potter 27: Grumpy Old Muggles. First, a wire frame is constructed in the computer. Then, texture painters fill in the colors. And like MAGIC! it appears on your local movie screen for you and your whole family to enjoy."


Haha I laughed loudly at this!

That clip is fantastic! thanks OP
 
Old 01 January 2013   #21
Wow.
I freaking LOVED Movie Magic. I have so many of these recorded to VHS that I've been meaning to put on DVD.

Excellent find.

I also have SO many back issues of Cinefex, too. I've been working on getting the earliest issues from ebay. Right now I'm looking for issue 3. After that I'll need a 4 for my collection.

Great reads.
 
Old 01 January 2013   #22
Originally Posted by trevanian: I just wrote a piece about how miniatures are still being used occasionally, usually for pyro events, but it was sad to realize how many great companies folded in the last 15 years. Cinema Production Services was an incredible miniature facility (rip) ... in the US it is basically just New Deal Studios (used to be called Hunter/Gratzner Industries) in SoCal and 32TEN (used to be Kerner Optical, was the ILM modelshop before that) in NorCal.


If anything appears to be a "lost art" on some people it's probably miniatures.

There was a South Korean film back in 2003 called "Blue Sky" (aka: "Wonderful Days") that claimed it was using CG for vehicles, hand-drawn characters, against re-touched backgrounds filmed in miniature.

I was curious about this kind of method but when I saw the HD print I was disappointed. Basically the entire background was CG and the miniature filming (if any was done at all) was just to probably aid the director in planning his shots.

I still think if you shoot something like Mechwarrior this way though, with pyrotechnics, motorized robots.. and you light it in a way so that CG humans can move in and out of the robots and the buildings? And you have extra sparks and smoke? I think it would revive interest in their use.
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Old 01 January 2013   #23
Originally Posted by Artbot: I know there's a ton of model work in movies like the prequels, but I wonder if they just felt compelled to use them since they still had a model dept. at the time.


According to one of the guys I talked with, who was at ILM during the prequel era, the word from on high was no miniatures/all digital, but Rick McCallum saw how it would be a very efficient use of resources and also cut rendering times down (probably by years!) Might be the first time I've heard something undeniably good about McCallum, but it is nice to know he isn't Rick Berman of the SWverse.
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Old 01 January 2013   #24
Really cool stuff, to this day matte paintings amaze me.
 
Old 01 January 2013   #25
well... "lost art" maybe the wrong statement, i'm obviously not involved in film making, just an appreciator (is that even a word?)... lol
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Old 01 January 2013   #26
Originally Posted by trevanian: According to one of the guys I talked with, who was at ILM during the prequel era, the word from on high was no miniatures/all digital, but Rick McCallum saw how it would be a very efficient use of resources and also cut rendering times down (probably by years!) Might be the first time I've heard something undeniably good about McCallum, but it is nice to know he isn't Rick Berman of the SWverse.


Huh, I heard the same about McCallum, and even experienced it firsthand in the one interaction I had with him. I'm sincerely glad I didn't have to work with him on a regular basis - my head would have exploded.

I can see where the models would have genuinely been more economical at that time (mid/late 90s). And my comments are in no way meant to be a slam against the model shop or its staff. I hold those folks in the highest regard possible, and a couple of highlights of my career was seeing the work of guys like Brian Gernand and John Goodson up close. But all the model shop staff were great, and I even had the chance to briefly work with them in their shop around '89. I was just in awe of what they did and sadly knew that my own modeling and building skills would never be at that level.
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Old 01 January 2013   #27
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: Yeah.. I couldn't find the original in-depth feature.. but AWN also ran some notes on the scene I was talking about:

http://www.awn.com/articles/article...-blood/page/2,1



THAT cityscape behind them was just a matte painting....And it was shot in-camera.



That 'painting' behind them was likely digitally created and printed really large for the soundstage. They even did stuff like that on Avatar. The key differentiation is the use of the paint brush vs. the Wacom.
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Old 01 January 2013   #28
Originally Posted by NanoGator: That 'painting' behind them was likely digitally created and printed really large for the soundstage. They even did stuff like that on Avatar. The key differentiation is the use of the paint brush vs. the Wacom.


Yeah, but the principles remain the same don't you think? You still need to know where you're going to obscure the image, use self-imposed shadows, or maybe where to add window holes in the plate for light to be projected through the image.

Because regardless of the tools available, you still need to know what you're doing or it will look fake compared to the hand painted glass panels of years ago.
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Old 01 January 2013   #29
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: Yeah, but the principles remain the same don't you think? You still need to know where you're going to obscure the image, use self-imposed shadows, or maybe where to add window holes in the plate for light to be projected through the image.

Because regardless of the tools available, you still need to know what you're doing or it will look fake compared to the hand painted glass panels of years ago.


Principles yes... (sort of, anyway). Execution, no. Making paint on glass look real is a very different skillset than making something look real in Photoshop. I can't speak for the shot you referred to, but in the Avatar trans-light we used, many of the trees in the jungle actually started out as photos of real trees that were then modified info the Pandora jungle. When somebody like Rob did those glass-paintings, they might have photographs to look at, but they still had to paint all base detail in. I've talked to him about it before and... wow... it took a certain breed of painter to do that job. Try to imagine painting on glass, outside, keeping the colors matched up as the clouds come and go, and having to be ready on a moment's notice for the Director to shout 'Action!'

There is a certain amount of 'the more things change, the more they stay the same' here, but that definitely is a lost art.
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Old 01 January 2013   #30
and yet i see people complaining and fighting about software, that video was truly inspirational, thanks for posting it man!
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