Making cg-effects for Terminator 2 today?

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  05 May 2013
Cool not much CG

The most people donīt know that Terminator 2 had only very few real CG sequences. The one raising from the floor is the longest of those scenes.
99% of the effects that looked CG were in fact puppets and animatronics. You can see some of those objects here
CG effects doesnīt mean full CG character animation - mostly 2D morphing effects were used for transformations into deformed puppets.
So itīs not really comparable with full CG effects that would nowadays be used in 99%,
The people donīt trust in 100% computer gerenated pictures. So the same was done with a lot of new productions like the last Alien movie. Animatronics have really evolved in near lifelike robots. If you seen some of those scenes shown in this demoreel you will be shocked that theyīre not CG. Hereīs another one.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Crushbomber: If you seen some of those scenes shown in this demoreel you will be shocked that theyīre not CG.


That big eared gnome head guy on the table is really good-I would have thought it was cg.
They really advanced--I remember a lot of air bladders, fiberglass and cable control mechanisms in puppets--looks like small motors have replaced a fair bit of it.


That animatronic Charon is neat but I prefer the simple stick puppet and skull mask performance from the Clash of the Titans 81 film. Even if something is really on set, it can still be utilized in a poor way, just like computer graphics.
I watched the Empire Strikes Back recently and its remarkable how well lit the Yoda puppet is. In behind the scenes footage it looks so green and fake, I remember seeing this documentary on the making of it and I thought why did they use a different puppet for rehearsals?
The on screen version looks so much better. In the film its dramatically lit and very well utilized.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Crushbomber: The most people donīt know that Terminator 2 had only very few real CG sequences. The one raising from the floor is the longest of those scenes.
99% of the effects that looked CG were in fact puppets and animatronics.


I never knew that. Always assumed it was all CG. Thanks for the link.
 
  05 May 2013
Cool

Quote: In behind the scenes footage it looks so green and fake, I remember seeing this documentary on the making of it and I thought why did they use a different puppet for rehearsals?

Iīm not sure how good the color-correction or composition effect software at that time was, but I think the hardware was not good enough to get those pictures done in an acceptable time. At those days it was standard to use different filters and sometimes several ones combined in front of the camera to create special mood or softness or whatever was needed to make it look better. Additional smoke generators or lighting (also with color filters and light scattering paper walls) helped to make such puppets look better than they would look at normal daylight. The last trick to get the right look was the film material and camera shutter settings they used to record it all.

Today itīs easier and cheaper to do all coloring and lighting in After Effects, Nuke, Davingi Resolve or similar programs that can create each mood you wish in a perfect way. Especially the film material had a very big influence on the look (graininess, special color were more intense than others). And a last one was the recording speed. Films that used 16 or 24 frames show up with a different motion blur effect than nowadays highspeed with up to 48 frames or higher. If you look TV all seems artificial, because you get calculated in-betweens and framerates >100Hz, sometimes 200 or more. This makes so soft movements that it looks more realistic to real life action, but loses all the "filmish" style. You only feel itīs artificial TVish because you are used to see the 16/24 fps movies from the past, but the films from the past had were more fake. Your eyes "feel" the difference <100 fps.

Last edited by Crushbomber : 05 May 2013 at 07:15 PM.
 
  05 May 2013
CG in films today is so amazing and seamless I have to watch a 'making of' to appreciate the sheer quantity of work in them. There was some thread here suggesting special effect were no longer special and I would agree, they have become essential effects.
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  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Kanga: CG in films today is so amazing and seamless I have to watch a 'making of' to appreciate the sheer quantity of work in them. There was some thread here suggesting special effect were no longer special and I would agree, they have become essential effects.


Having just seen Oblivion and Iron Man 3 back to back, I noticed even since Avengers I have been having that side conversation with myself less and less about how they are doing a certain shot, (aside from when it is something very cool done practically, or something so complicated I have to wonder, or something that looks dodgy or out of place), to simply sitting back and admiring how great it looks or just appreciating the design or cinematography (virtual or otherwise). And it's not just because I've studied this stuff or worked on so much of this stuff both in pre or post, it's just because it's all academic at a certain point, it just exists on the screen.

I always have to think about or read about that stuff to stay current and see how I might want to approach an effect I need to do, but the sky (or the ground or the entire city) is the limit. Everything is full frame and closeup and pervasive in long shots. I've said it before, but this semi-trendy backlash about trying to do things "without CG" is like saying you're going to make a movie without a camera.

The main reason to do something on-set and in-camera nowadays is if it obviously still makes sense to do, like sets or pervasive pieces, or if you can accomplish it more cleverly, convincingly or cheaply, or even just to give the actors something to play off of, but otherwise, we gots computers and lasers and stuff now.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Laserschwert: The only thing I don't have a solution for right away would be the "passing through the bars" shot... would have to tinker a bit I think.



You shoot it in a narrow corridor with a mostly flat color and a prop Gate in the middle. Markers placed where the Gate is being "held" by the corridor walls. You have establishing shots of the T-1000 approaching the Gate and the Gate standing between him and the characters he's chasing.

You can also do the shot after.. with The T-1000's pistol trapped by the Gate and him twisting it between the bars.

Remove the prop Gate and have a medium shot which is actually the T-1000 walking past the marked area of the corridor. Mostly forward oriented, medium shot cut-off at the chest area.
He walks REALLY slow.. then pretends to get stuck.. Looks down and left.. CUT.

In this "Walk Through no Gate shot" you can then add a CG Gate in the footage with the aid of the markers that looks exactly like the prop Gate (it can be painted in a particular shade so that it's easier to replicate).

Because the original footage of this "Walk Through" shot did not have a Gate, you can literally "Paint/Roto/Morph out and remove sections of the Gate bars CG plate from a certain frame count and at the correct timing (giving way eventually to much of the original footage of the actor uncovered by Gate bars) and it will seem like the T-1000 walks past the bars.

Note that you cut to the pistol gag after the T-1000 "gets stuck and looks back"... so it'll work.

P.S.: I think a really clean "Gate Bar Paint-out" could be done with some Threshold masks or something (especially if the corridor wall color is really flat) but even without a mask you can literally get it right with a mostly flat colored CG Gate especially since the boundary is the actor himself.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 05 May 2013 at 02:19 AM.
 
  05 May 2013
You're talking about doing that in 2D and missing the key part of the walking through the gate shot, which is the T-1000 distorting and flowing around the bars like liquid as he passes through them. The all-roto approach would be more like if the person was a ghost.

You're also mostly describing how they did the original. Originally they simply shot a plate with the bars and then physically took them out, then had the actor walk through the space, miming the resistance, in another shot. (They did multiple cameras at the same time if I remember correctly, so the overhead 3/4 and more front-on shot were the same motion) Then they matchmoved the CG figure and reprojected the actor's footage onto it while it was mashing through the gate. The gun was an insert shot after cutting away to the doctor's reaction. (There were multiple cuts during the scene)

There was custom software involved at the time for the "mayonnaise" effect on the CG figure, but you could do that all off the shelf now with quite a few different methods.

Now if you wanted to update the effect to "modernize" it, you could just do it steadicam in one take with no gate and add a CG gate as discussed, and matchmoved cg actor. Doing a handoff to a CG standin for so many different kinds of effects has become so ubiquitous I think unless you had an indie movie or fan film budget it wouldn't be much of a problem at all.

As flashy as it would be to do it in one take, I think the original sequence would still win dramatically because it was an important moment showcasing the abilities of the T-1000 to Sarah, who had never seen it before, -and- showing the doctor reacting to seeing what he had always thought was BS before (after just witnessing the T-800 beat the crap out of everyone as well).

As an effects moment you could jazz it up for today's audiences, but really as a moment in the movie I don't see how you'd be telling it any better.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by hypercube: You're talking about doing that in 2D and missing the key part of the walking through the gate shot, which is the T-1000 distorting and flowing around the bars like liquid as he passes through them. The all-roto approach would be more like if the person was a ghost.

You're also mostly describing how they did the original. Originally they simply shot a plate with the bars and then physically took them out, then had the actor walk through the space, miming the resistance, in another shot. (They did multiple cameras at the same time if I remember correctly, so the overhead 3/4 and more front-on shot were the same motion) Then they matchmoved the CG figure and reprojected the actor's footage onto it while it was mashing through the gate. The gun was an insert shot after cutting away to the doctor's reaction. (There were multiple cuts during the scene)

There was custom software involved at the time for the "mayonnaise" effect on the CG figure, but you could do that all off the shelf now with quite a few different methods.

Now if you wanted to update the effect to "modernize" it, you could just do it steadicam in one take with no gate and add a CG gate as discussed, and matchmoved cg actor. Doing a handoff to a CG standin for so many different kinds of effects has become so ubiquitous I think unless you had an indie movie or fan film budget it wouldn't be much of a problem at all.

As flashy as it would be to do it in one take, I think the original sequence would still win dramatically because it was an important moment showcasing the abilities of the T-1000 to Sarah, who had never seen it before, -and- showing the doctor reacting to seeing what he had always thought was BS before (after just witnessing the T-800 beat the crap out of everyone as well).

As an effects moment you could jazz it up for today's audiences, but really as a moment in the movie I don't see how you'd be telling it any better.


Yeah, I left out the "morphing" which you can probably do now quite easily after the "ghost like" roto dissolve just to kind of "thumb rubbing the images digitally" and it will look like he "melted around the bars".

It's a two-shot now that I've seen it again:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq2hWRHkk-M#t=01m40s

So yeah, I guess a CG match move (at least CG "squibs" for the shoulders in the overhead). Yeah I know, I'm REALLY "garage-ifying" it. lol.

That it's forward-oriented (T-1000 basically walking towards camera) and not full-on side view is key to the illusion and why you can do it image based. I agree a match-moved CG actor would probably achieve a superior effect with the bonus that it can even work regardless of angle... But doing it "garage style" would probably merit exploiting it as a "to camera" effect (or like you said: "Doing it in 2D").

The same with cutting to the pistol twist gag.... If you do the thing as one take (and include the pistol gag in the same shot)... Yeah, that would be better... But I think it actually benefited from the fact that when the T-1000 seems "stuck" you have to be shown the pistol to "get it".

Doing it as one take will be flashier but maybe not as "fun".
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 05 May 2013 at 04:37 AM.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by hypercube: As an effects moment you could jazz it up for today's audiences, but really as a moment in the movie I don't see how you'd be telling it any better.


AAAAAAAAAnd thats what blows up movie budgets!
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: Yeah, I left out the "morphing" which you can probably do now quite easily after the "ghost like" roto dissolve just to kind of "thumb rubbing the images digitally" and it will look like he "melted around the bars".

It's a two-shot now that I've seen it again:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq2hWRHkk-M#t=01m40s

Yeah, well, I know how to get the live action shots down, including all the compositing for the trick. The liquid effect of the T-1000 walking throught the bars is the thing I can't do right now. At least not the way ILM did it back then. In the Making Of you see that it's not a simple 2D effect, but in fact a 3D effect of the mesh actually splitting at the bars and flowing back together. I could either get the liquid effect (using particles and some smooth blobmesh) OR I could get a 3D model of Robert Patricks face (as 3D scanning became ridiculously easy lately). But both together? I'm sure Realflow or some scripted particles can do the trick, but I have no experience with either of those, so I'll have to think of something else. Some projection mapping, displacement and maybe some 2D warping afterwards might be good enough though. And to be fair, with a shot only around 100 frames long, I wouldn't even mind doing it frame by frame.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Laserschwert: Yeah, well, I know how to get the live action shots down, including all the compositing for the trick. The liquid effect of the T-1000 walking throught the bars is the thing I can't do right now. At least not the way ILM did it back then. In the Making Of you see that it's not a simple 2D effect, but in fact a 3D effect of the mesh actually splitting at the bars and flowing back together. I could either get the liquid effect (using particles and some smooth blobmesh) OR I could get a 3D model of Robert Patricks face (as 3D scanning became ridiculously easy lately). But both together? I'm sure Realflow or some scripted particles can do the trick, but I have no experience with either of those, so I'll have to think of something else. Some projection mapping, displacement and maybe some 2D warping afterwards might be good enough though. And to be fair, with a shot only around 100 frames long, I wouldn't even mind doing it frame by frame.


All roads (should) lead to Rome. While it is a ridiculous "garage solution", doing it in post will probably "look the same" to the audience.

That's what counts.

I mean, getting an entire CG model of an actor when you only need his Head and Shoulders for the "hero shot"?

I still think the fastest way is to just do a "ghost walkthrough" first to get the timing of the pass, and then do another solution to "morph" the picture for the distortions inside silhouette.. and finally do some "globs" textured with the live actor to imitate the "melt and stretch"... the "globs" do one-frame vanishes as if they bounce back onto the actor to finish.

However, I've always known that a lot more people here are smarter than me at coming up with these FX. I'm too old school and tend to really pull all considerations down to the level of "garage solutions".
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  05 May 2013
You'd be surprised how lo-fi a mapped model can be for a shot like this, if you're only presenting it from specific angles and blending it back into the original actor. You could definitely just do spot area effects as well.

You could probably do something with soft bodies or cloth if you have enough polys in your stand-in..lots of damping, shove the piece through the gate, let it snap back, do whatever 2D tricks you had planned along with it.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by hypercube: You'd be surprised how lo-fi a mapped model can be for a shot like this, if you're only presenting it from specific angles and blending it back into the original actor. You could definitely just do spot area effects as well.

You could probably do something with soft bodies or cloth if you have enough polys in your stand-in..lots of damping, shove the piece through the gate, let it snap back, do whatever 2D tricks you had planned along with it.


Isn't this still the only way VFX are planned and done? As in, specific to angle?

In my mind the clever thing about films like Terminator 2 (and why they scale down really well in feasibility down the years) is also the style of the angles.

For example, all the gun shot squibs on the T-1000 don't need to be animated because they are introduced instantly in opposing view cuts (ie: T-800 Fires Shotgun to T-1000 who is Off-Camera, then cut to T-1000 staggering with Squib already attached).

Short of some Ultra-Clear painted "dishes", adhesive, and clever editing, you get "The Indestructible T-1000 keeps coming after shotgun blasts".

You can always do those FX today such that they work "regardless of angle". But working "to angle" is how I always thought all these VFX work and why they become more feasible over time.

I also know some people think that's low-brow, but in my mind, when the goal is to entertain (and to do it on a dime), any trick is fair game.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 05 May 2013 at 03:07 AM.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: For example, all the gun shot squibs on the T-1000 don't need to be animated because they are introduced instantly in opposing view cuts (ie: T-800 Fires Shotgun to T-1000 who is Off-Camera, then cut to T-1000 staggering with Squib already attached).

Short of some Ultra-Clear painted "dishes", adhesive, and clever editing, you get "The Indestructible T-1000 keeps coming after shotgun blasts".

You can always do those FX today such that they work "regardless of angle". But working "to angle" is how I always thought all these VFX work and why they become more feasible over time.


Pre-planning and vis are crucial especially with the volume of stuff there is to do, but there's to some extent a more wide-net approach if you know you have to do multiple things with an asset..they had many full scans of Patrick and animated versions because there were other shots involving him in CG form, but all the "stuff" for each shot was obviously only made to work from the shot camera, and that's not changed.

BTW a lot of the silver hole squibs are actually appearing on camera popping out of his shirt, they show how they rigged them in the documentaries..they are soft, folded up and pop out to the splashed position. More severe trauma obviously cuts to different stages of Winston model or CG effect.

Again in a "modern" VFX setting you could just track some CG pieces onto his torso to have them appear and disappear on the fly, much like they do many bullet squibs and wounds on some productions. You could get much crazier with injuries, even doing the "eye hole" or "splash head" type stuff in a continuous shot. Look at what they do on Walking Dead on a TV schedule.

Editing in an efficient and effective way can always make your effects easier to manage, same with the duration of the shots. I think there's a tendency to want to do longer shots now because it is "easier" (relatively) to do so, and you couldn't in the past. Nowadays you can really showcase and linger on something cool if you want to, and have the edits be more about the pacing and mood rather than cutting away to hide a dodgy effect.

Last edited by hypercube : 05 May 2013 at 03:29 AM.
 
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