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Old June 28 2009, 03:40 PM   #179
3D Master
Rear Admiral
Re: Star Trek TNG Remastered?

Okay, time for the solution.

With every CGI shot before, I cut away any credits and then had ImageShack shrink them down to a forum-manageable 640x480 frame. We're now going to give links to the full-size and unaltered versions.

1. CGI:
Model by Ralph Schoberth.
Image (or as many artists put it, check it out: Scene and LIGHTING) by Blumenkohl.

2. CGI:
Model by Itruinedmylife.
Image by Darkness.

3. CGI:
Image by IRLM

4. CGI:
Enterprise model by Dave Clark.
Spacedock model by LilPigBoy.
Image by Nate Howe.

5. Model:
A promotional shot on top of a background. Don't know who made it.

6. CGI:
Model by Dave Clark.
Image by Darkness-Gfx.

7. Model:
A promotional shot.

8. CGI:
Model by Nico.
Image by Reality Overdrive.

9. CGI:
Galaxy Class and Drydock models: Nico Weigand.
Image by Deks.

10. Model:
A promotional shot put on a background don't know by who.

Now let's examine the answers of the ones who got it right, or mostly right. First: Maxwell Everett; you know the 6ft model from 4ft model; which tells me you know the models so if it isn't one of the model it must be CGI. As one might notice, this is rather reasoning, and not so much just looking at a picture and saying this seems real enough to me it is a model. Nothing wrong with it, but to someone who has this intimate knowledge of the models, the test is a rather wasted effort.

Now for Gary Sebben's answer; you're wrong. You've said the CGI has details that the models don't, and that number 8 is either a model or better CGI because of that. The number of details in those images, however, has got nothing to do with models versus CGI, but all witth the quality/resolution of the base picture.

The model shots are all ancient, scans of promotional shots, or internet promotional shots, of SFX created on video tape at no more than 480 lines. To boot, they've been blown up since, blurring details more. Number 8, if you follow the link above, and check the properties, you will find that the picture only has 560 vertical pixels (and thus lines), and the ship is only a small part of the image to boot. The other CGI shots, are all high resolution and even extremely high resolution at their base, or are over the entire size of the picture. (I went looking, but couldn't find a full-size 1920x1080 screen shot of the E-D from the Generations Blu-Ray release, but I couldn't find one. If I had, you would have seen a model shot with every bit as much detail as the high-res CGI shots.)

Further, the CGI shots don't all have details. Check out 3, and follow the link where the full-size makes it more obvious, this CGI shot has no real detail. Any detail is blurred out using motion blur, as the ship is in motion. It is in fact the first picture in a sequence of four depicting a classic beauty pass before going into warp from the show. I think IRLM even rendered it into a video, but I don't have it on my harddrive and couldn't fine it quickly, so I'm not sure.

The reason why this third picture seems more crisp, some lines more defined is because its base picture is a higher resolution that the model shots and CGI 8.

Which gets us to picture 10. It is indeed the 4ft model; but the lighting of it is horrible. It's nearly all white, colors and depth are removed because of it; at it only still looks like an object because it was on object. However, the 4ft model in this picture looks a 7 inch toy.

Which gets us to number 6. This picture is a classic, in fact, exaggerated example of what I'm talking about. (Well, exaggerated, the new ST movie and some of the SW prequels might have a few moments that are that garrish.) Make no mistake; it is a stunningly beautiful image, but not very realistic. Someone mentioned "cartoony", I would rather say; it's a painting. This picture is not meant to look like a realistic depiction of an object. The brightness is incredibly high, the contrast massive, and it's heavily over saturated. As a result, the ship, the object in the foreground, seems to blend in with, or rather flow into the objects in the background. It is almost as if it is a painting made by a painter that let it all blend together in a single layer. If you can remember the painting of the Galaxy Class in Picard's ready room, it almost looks like that.

So, illustrate how much of an impact lighting has, I artificially lowered brightness, contrast, and saturation in this picture. Keep in mind; to get the effect fully would require a fully rerendering of the picture, I just adjusted a few levers in photoshop, result is some other problems (for example a light on a saucer that outshines a star);

Original Full size Altered Full Size

As you can see, for a little fiddling with some levers, the difference is striking, especially if you put the two full size versions side by side and switch between them. The depth is much more pronounced, the ship seems much more separate from the background, and shadows aren't overpowered by both the light from the star and the light from the ship.

Another example of how much lighting effects any model; this one done by the artist himself as he made two versions:

Blue Full Size Red Full Size

All he did was change the color of the source light, of the stars, and difference is immediate. With the first picture, light from the Starbase, light from the ship, and light from the star, are essentially the same: blue-white. As a result, the light-sources blend together and diminish depth. Change the color of the star to red, and the color of the starship and starbase contrast. Parts that before were illuminated by its own light seemed less present because the light from the star is the same color - it's less obvious that something is lighted from the right side of the left - and to your brain interpreting the information it makes it more difficult to determine where, how big, what angel, how far away an object is. Change the primary source color, and that changes.

I think this very well illustrates, just how important the lighting of a scene is. The lighting is the most important of all. The brighter the light, the more details and depth is bled out, brightness and saturation similarly. Even different color lights will have an effect. Light a model - physical or CGI - wrong and it will look flat, 2D, not like an actual object. Light a model - physical or CGI - wrong, and it will have topography and look like an actual object.

There are two more things that are important to create the illusion of three dimensions, and thus make any object in a scene seem more real, like an actual object of a size it should be. Although not quite as important as the lighting, they are up there:

1. Composition; in other words, the placing of other objects. Other objects of varying size placed in relation to each other will give your eyes and brain something to latch onto, and will help define each other.

2. Motion: we create 3D images in our mind, because of our two eyes picking up light coming from objects from different angles. The mind then calculates size and shape and depth from the differences. Lose an eye, and your depth perception is diminished but not gone. Move your head and the mind can the same thing with the different angles from different positions. Move an object in an otherwise 2D image, and the same result occurs, especially when light and shadows highlight different parts of an object. TOS sfx creators were masters at this; notice how the ship never stays in one spot, or moves in only one dimension; it always moves forward, but at an angle, and often slightly moves around its own axis. Result is light and shadow moving across different parts of the ship, different parts of the ship moving in front of other parts; and the illusion of an actual 3D solid object in front of you.

And it's all Star Wars and George Lucas fault. When George told the SFX guys: "It's space ships, it isn't real, you don't need to bother with lighting that much to make it look real. Just make sure it's bright and visible," SFX of space scenes went down the crapper. Physical models or CGI, we've been stuck with flat looking space scenes and ships ever since.

Which brings us to la piece de resistance:

Full Size
Galaxy Class model by Ralph Schoberth.
Runabout model by T. Slanitz.
Image by Blumenkohl.

This rather illustrates all the points in one. Lighting, composition, only motion is missing, and imagine if it were moving. Tell me the galaxy class in this picture doesn't look like a solid object to you, and I don't believe you.
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