Robert Comsol wrote:
Sometimes "less" actually yields "more" but try telling this to the CGI artists.
I'm glad this hasn't turned into a general "I hate all CGI effects" grouch-fest. And I've heard many people make exactly that statement. Yet I can guarantee that hundreds
of CGI and digitally composited effects have slipped under their radars, and they never knew it.
I like many of the new digital effects for TOS, especially the "scene extensions" (aka "matte paintings"). I just don't like most of them in context because they don't match the rest of the show. And there's more to matching up the new work with the old than a "noise" or faux film grain filter.
Many artists have made an effort to "grunge" up their textures and apply other weathering to their renderings. This helps greatly in minimizing the ultra-clean look that CGI is notorious for. But one can still go another step further.
Older cameras and technology have certain artifacts that we have become accustomed to seeing. While engineers have been busting their butts to eliminate such artifacts (dirt, grain, scratches, lens distortions, compound lens flares and "bokeh," etc.), computer artists have been busting their
butts to emulate it. It's crazy. The Blu-ray or collector's edition DVD of Pixar's WALL•E has an excellent supplement on this subject titled "The Imperfect Lens."
One "artifact" of real locations (as opposed to studios) is the quality of the light—too strong highlights, too deep blacks, etc. Field DPs fix these problems with diffusers and reflectors, but they never completely eliminate that distinctive quality of real outdoor lighting. Likewise, the look of outdoor lighting is rarely recreated in the studio. CGI is another matter entirely. If the artist is willing to make the image less-than-perfect, they may find the key to shots that look more "realistic" to the audience.
Photo-realism may not be the key, however. TOS has a very stage-like feel to it—the sets that look like stage flats, the theatrically colored and patterned lights, and often a very stage-like "blocking" of the actors. The diffuse, "non-directional" light in most of the miniature shots thus matched the theatrical look of the live action.
From the posts I've read, it is obvious that many members here are either production professionals, or are serious hobbyists. If you wish to tinker with 3D rendering and animation, but don't know where to start, take a look at Blender
, an open source "free" 3D animation package. There are abundant tutorials and animations on-line. And Blender is easily the peer of many commercial packages costing thousands (plural) of dollars.
POST SCRIPT—Whether or not a digital image or effect flies may not be the fault of the artists who created it. I know of many instances, some from personal experience, where a micro-managing director or producer "knows better" than the artist who has been doing the work for a long time. A director should at least give his artists enough elbow room to demonstrate their point-of-view. If time and money are tight, and the director is unwilling to trust his artists even a little, then good artists might still turn out crap.