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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old June 17 2013, 12:00 PM   #46
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

trevanian wrote: View Post
if you want to see some REAL bad ones of those, 2010's are just jaw-dropping
Roger that! Still, the FX artists for 2010 were aiming for the "deep black shadows" of real space footage. And controlling the spill light from a bluescreen can be tricky. FIREFOX and SPACEBALLS got around the problem by coating the models in a clear, UV fluorescing paint, then making two passes with motion-controlled models. (One "beauty pass" of the model, the other a matte pass with the UV paint.) The crew of 2010 might have tried the same approach, only Discovery flexed a lot and was not amenable to repeated, motion-controlled passes.

2001 used all in-camera composites, to the best of my knowledge. And that film holds up beautifully on Blu-ray. All the "motion control" rigs were mechanical, too. Now that's impressive.
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Old June 17 2013, 01:27 PM   #47
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

trevanian wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
ssosmcin wrote: View Post
However, for the most part, Eagles in space were composite shots. I don't have an image to put up, but if you get an opportunity to pop in an episode, space shots of Eagles and other crafts usually are in a part of the screen with no stars. There could be a starless path or the bottom third, say, of the screen would have no stars and the ship would be in that area. This way no stars would show through the shadowed portions of the models.
That sounds like the same kind of in-camera compositing done by Filmation's Space Academy. Rather than using an optical printer and mattes to combine separate strips of film, which would result in loss of resolution, they'd film one image element, then rewind the exposed film in the camera, then double-expose the next element onto the same length of film, and so on until they had a final, first-generation composite shot. They used the same technique of leaving gaps in the starfield for the ships flying through the frame.

So that's not really the same as the bluescreen process ST used, because there are no mattes involved -- otherwise you wouldn't need the gap in the starscape to avoid image bleedthrough, since that's what the mattes are for. Unless what you're saying is that they created mattes using pure light/shadow contrast rather than a bluescreen, in which case the shadowed portions of the ship would just be missing from the image. That seems unlikely, though.
Yeah, the wind back and double-expose in camera is how nearly all of 1999's work was done. If you look at some of ALIEN, the same thing was done there (there is a different quality of black to the space the ship passes through than the rest of frame in some shots as well.) The 'sophisticated grid' work they talked about on ALIEN was the same grid they used in 1999 to make sure the ship wasn't overlapping anything.

It was done far more expertly in MOONRAKER, which has very few opticals, and has got one shot with about 45 passes in-camera.
trevanian wrote: View Post
The articles on ALIEN kept talking about tons of roto work for the ship shots, but I think that was only done for a few shots, with the rest DXed.
I just dug up one of them that mentions the grid and the rotoscoping used on Alien. From Starlog #27, interview with Brian Johnson and Nick Allder on Alien, page 67:

Starlog 27 wrote:
The model of the Nostromo is surrounded
by a black cyclorama. [Allder] "Our camera system
incorporates a very sophisticated grid system
so we can actually do multiple exposures.
This technique, which records only on the
orginal negative, will give us much better
quality than traveling mattes or blue-screen
backing shots. When using the grid we take
very careful records of what areas of the
frame have been exposed in each pass
through the camera. Then we can rewind and
overlay another exposure in what* we know to
be a clear piece of film.

"We can get by with a lot of shots in which
a star field isn't necessary, or is in a different
area of the frame. Where the ship must cross
a star field, however, we have rotoscoped
mattes. Rotoscoping involves taking a se-
quence frame by frame, making line draw-
ings, hand-painting the black mattes, then
shooting that in high-contrast to actually
create our matte and eventual effect. It's the
only time we use an optical printer."
That seems to confirm, which is pretty obvious in the film, that rotoscoping was unnecessary in "a lot of shots".
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Old June 18 2013, 04:19 AM   #48
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

I have bought more copies of STARLOG 27 than I have of CFQ's WRATH OF KHAN/BLADE RUNNER issue or any other magazine that I've re-re-re-bought down through the years.
It has got more good info in it (and surprisingly unpuff-piece like, some frank stuff, like the magicam article, though I still take some of that with a grain of salt) on VFX than you'd think could get crammed into a STARLOG. And it's kind of funny, because recently somebody showed me a mention of STARLOG 27 in an old SciFiUniverse magazine where Mark Altman or one of those guys was raving about that particular issue.
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Old June 18 2013, 04:27 AM   #49
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

Metryq wrote: View Post
2001 used all in-camera composites, to the best of my knowledge. And that film holds up beautifully on Blu-ray. All the "motion control" rigs were mechanical, too. Now that's impressive.
By now I can't even guess at the number of times I've scrutinized 2001 on laserdisc and dvd and BR (not counting nearly two dozen theater screenings.)

Even the stuff that is done in a way that should feel at least a little clunky, like all the still-photo cutouts, is just executed with such finesse that you marvel over & over.

I know Trumbull always thought that not being able to change speeds of the ships during the shots was limiting, but I think the film absolutely makes a virtue of that with the ballet approach ... if you had a space pod ripping through frame it'd be like seeing a breakdancer in a Fred&Ginger flick.
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Old June 18 2013, 05:37 AM   #50
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

trevanian wrote: View Post
I have bought more copies of STARLOG 27 than I have of CFQ's WRATH OF KHAN/BLADE RUNNER issue or any other magazine that I've re-re-re-bought down through the years.
It has got more good info in it (and surprisingly unpuff-piece like, some frank stuff, like the magicam article, though I still take some of that with a grain of salt) on VFX than you'd think could get crammed into a STARLOG. And it's kind of funny, because recently somebody showed me a mention of STARLOG 27 in an old SciFiUniverse magazine where Mark Altman or one of those guys was raving about that particular issue.
Behold...Starlog #27 courtesy Archive.Org
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Old June 18 2013, 05:39 AM   #51
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

^ I linked to archive.org, too.
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Old June 18 2013, 04:52 PM   #52
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

Metryq wrote: View Post
trevanian wrote: View Post
if you want to see some REAL bad ones of those, 2010's are just jaw-dropping
Roger that! Still, the FX artists for 2010 were aiming for the "deep black shadows" of real space footage.
I never thought 2010 had bad sfx in any way. As I remember, the sfx high for that movie was that it was cgi. (as in "AMAZING COMPUTER GRAPHICS!")

Not for the ships and such, but for Jupiter. I guess after Star Trek and Star Wars, ships just in space was already no news by then.
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Old June 18 2013, 07:13 PM   #53
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

^He was just saying the garbage mattes in 2010 were really obvious. And as I said, garbage mattes are a lot more evident in TV/video transfers than they would've been in the original films as shown in theaters. In the format the effects were made for, they would've looked fine. It was just when they were converted for the small screen that the contrast on the garbage mattes was amplified enough to become noticeable.
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Old June 19 2013, 12:50 AM   #54
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

Yeah, in the theater, 2010's ship VFX looked very very good to me.

Now when you go inside the ships and find it's like they have fog banks it is so smoked-up, that's a whole other kettle of fish ...
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Old June 19 2013, 01:26 AM   #55
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

Just want to first say awesome discussion of classic techniques for VFX. I've been enjoying reading along.

Christopher wrote: View Post
^He was just saying the garbage mattes in 2010 were really obvious. And as I said, garbage mattes are a lot more evident in TV/video transfers than they would've been in the original films as shown in theaters. In the format the effects were made for, they would've looked fine. It was just when they were converted for the small screen that the contrast on the garbage mattes was amplified enough to become noticeable.
With a more information limited (composite) SD format like VHS there is certainly truth to this. Moving to higher quality formats like DVD or, even better, a Blu-ray disc should help quite a bit. Assuming of course the film transfer was done properly.

I think perhaps the bigger issue that reveals garbage mattes, which you alluded to, is that most home TVs are set totally incorrectly if you go by official cinema (and it's close cousin of home theater) standards.

Most TVs are set to terribly inaccurate and inappropriate levels of color temperature, brightness, contrast, gamma curve, etc. Incorrect brightness and contrast settings would easily overexpose the garbage mattes which would otherwise be relatively hidden.

When set more appropriately, using a setup disc, or even better, calibrated by a pro home theater calibrator, the garbage mattes will be much less obvious like it was in the movie theater.
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Old June 19 2013, 02:32 AM   #56
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

^Interesting.
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Old June 19 2013, 02:57 AM   #57
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

After seeing the original trilogy Star Wars films on TV, I knew what to look for in terms of probable garbage mattes. Next time I saw the films in the theater, sure enough, I could spot them. That said, the first time I actually noticed them was on TV, even after seeing the movies in theaters many times.
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Old June 19 2013, 03:20 AM   #58
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
After seeing the original trilogy Star Wars films on TV, I knew what to look for in terms of probable garbage mattes. Next time I saw the films in the theater, sure enough, I could spot them. That said, the first time I actually noticed them was on TV, even after seeing the movies in theaters many times.
Well yeah I mean realistically, once you know where to look you can find them.

With the successive tweaks (1997, 2004/2011) that were done to the SW trilogy the noticeability of the garbage mattes have gotten better.

The versions on cable (primarily on SpikeTV) now are the 2004 versions.
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Old June 19 2013, 04:20 AM   #59
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

SpHeRe31459 wrote: View Post

Most TVs are set to terribly inaccurate and inappropriate levels of color temperature, brightness, contrast, gamma curve, etc. Incorrect brightness and contrast settings would easily overexpose the garbage mattes which would otherwise be relatively hidden.

When set more appropriately, using a setup disc, or even better, calibrated by a pro home theater calibrator, the garbage mattes will be much less obvious like it was in the movie theater.
Yeah, that really works with a movie that is properly transferred, like Se7en. But a lot of the time films don't look that great using a properly calibrated set. I mean, in order to watch the space scenes in INSURRECTION w/o flinching, I remember having to turn the contrast way way up and bring the brightness down, to get the ship windows to read like something other than fuzzy plain white mailing labels.

Pete Kuran is a vfx guy who goes all the way back to the original STAR WARS, and I remember in the 90s, after the first THX certified laserdisc of SW came out with all the garbage mattes, reading something from him where he actually had a good explanation for why the video transfers were hotter and thus exposing the garbage mattes. Can't figure out where it was he said it though, and am pretty sure it was a print source, not net. If I come across it, I'll chime back in.
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Old June 19 2013, 04:50 AM   #60
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Re: Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

trevanian wrote: View Post
Yeah, that really works with a movie that is properly transferred, like Se7en. But a lot of the time films don't look that great using a properly calibrated set. I mean, in order to watch the space scenes in INSURRECTION w/o flinching, I remember having to turn the contrast way way up and bring the brightness down, to get the ship windows to read like something other than fuzzy plain white mailing labels.
FYI: things look fine on the Blu-ray of Insurrection.

One of the great things about Blu-ray is that upon the introduction of the HD formats (initially both HD DVD and Blu-ray) studios slowly started to realized that they have to take their film transfers much more seriously than ever before. The much better resolution and slightly wider color space for HD made poor transfers obvious.

Sran wrote: View Post
Pete Kuran is a vfx guy who goes all the way back to the original STAR WARS, and I remember in the 90s, after the first THX certified laserdisc of SW came out with all the garbage mattes, reading something from him where he actually had a good explanation for why the video transfers were hotter and thus exposing the garbage mattes. Can't figure out where it was he said it though, and am pretty sure it was a print source, not net. If I come across it, I'll chime back in.
Please do, I'm always up for a good read about inside technical stuff like that from industry pros

With everything being digital and being sourced from (comparatively) very high quality scans of films and very different standards of data storage than before, AFAIK there isn't really an issue of modern video formats making the content hotter. That was very true when you had the limited resolution (both over all lines of resolution and luma resolution) of composite video sources like VHS and LaserDisc (though it was quite a bit better than VHS).

It's why TNG when remastered looks amazing and has much more depth and vibrancy to it, the VHS (and DVDs which were sourced from the same analog pro grade video tape masters) have a pale cast to them, often it leans towards purple and the image is generally not very dynamic. All the editing on tape and final dupe to a tape source means the end-product kept losing more and more information from the original filmed segments.

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