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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

View Poll Results: CGI or Models?
Models! 21 27.63%
CGI! 8 10.53%
both are good! 47 61.84%
Voters: 76. You may not vote on this poll

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Old June 26 2014, 04:46 AM   #1
Shat Happens
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Models or CGI?

Simple question, much polemic.

My vote: I prefer models, but I concede that the saucer of the Enterprise in the 2009 movie was impressive. Problem there was the LENS FLARES!!! and digital dirty lens (even worse choice than the flares IMO).

In ST:ID I didn't like the shaky camera. In the 1980s the SFX motion control cameras had to be in rails, having it shake on purpose was impossible, and by accident meant a ruined shot. So we got beautiful images. Now with CGI they can shake, but what did the President say? "just because we can do a thing desn't mean we should".
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Old June 26 2014, 05:20 AM   #2
Last Redshirt
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Re: Models or CGI?

Both are lovely. There are some lovely instances of both. However, models are very limited in their usages and it can give the impression that only a few types of ships exist in the universe, but CGI also suffers the same, with the same couple ships being used again and again.
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Old June 26 2014, 05:59 AM   #3
MacLeod
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Re: Models or CGI?

Both have their place. Model work can look outstanding as can CGI, but the reverse is also true sometimes they can look awful.
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Old June 26 2014, 06:15 AM   #4
trevanian
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Re: Models or CGI?

Look at the TMP refit and the Phoenix from FC ... miniatures, when well-shot, are the tops, man. SUNSHINE's CG spaceships are pretty damned good, though, I'll give you that. The SOLARIS remake, too.

I think if you take the jitter and lens flare and digital dirty lens away from the Abrams, that you'd see something that maybe didn't withstand scrutiny. The best stuff so far in the Abrams was the KELVIN stuff, which really did have a physical look to it as the camera closed in while it was getting the crap kicked out of it.

I'm still trying to find out what Kerner Optical did on Trek09 - they were the former ILM modelshop, and early reports had them doing pyro stuff, probably with models, and they have a vague screen credit, but nobody has ever gone on record about what they did. Kind of makes me think it is like the Sebulba crash in TPM ... a shot that looks so good it is hard to believe it is CG -- and a decade later you find out it was NOT cg.

And ILM themselves don't always do all the work. The really good earthscapes you see in a lot of late 90s early 2000s ILM shows were actually farmed out to a place that had created a high-rez digital Earth for scientific purposes... it was used for GALAXY QUEST and I think SPACE COWBOYS, probably others. I can't find the name of the company (I interviewed the owner for a space.com article that never happened, I think they couldn't get an okay to run illustrations), but I'll dig around.
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Old June 26 2014, 06:30 AM   #5
Melakon
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Re: Models or CGI?

I prefer model miniature effects, and the field produced some specialists like the Lydecker brothers, Ray Harryhausen, and Derek Meddings. I can't think of any person working in CGI who has achieved that type of brand name familiarity with the public. The field seems to require many more specialists to do the same thing.
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Old June 26 2014, 10:41 AM   #6
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Models or CGI?

I love physical models. I'm awed by the intricate detail and craftsmanship involved. It's a huge shame that their use has declined as much as they have.

BUT... I've seen Avengers many times, and it wasn't until I saw the behind-the-scenes ILM thingie on their Youtube channel did I realized that the New York City in the movie was entirely digital. THAT was a "holy shit!" moment. The future cities in Into Darkness are just as realistic - I absolutely believed there were thousands of people populating each megaskyscraper which Khan and Spock flew between during their battle. And the way real shooting locations were merged seamlessly with CGI, the days of spotting the "green screen" are long gone.

Sometimes CG looks cartoony (case in point: TOS-R), and sometimes models look hollow and fragile (when most TNG ships explode, it's immediately apparent that they're hollow shells). Budget and execution makes all the difference.
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Old June 26 2014, 12:58 PM   #7
Forbin
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Re: Models or CGI?

Use ALL your tools.
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Old June 26 2014, 01:30 PM   #8
Viper78
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Re: Models or CGI?

I went for both. For me it depends on the films. Take Star Wars for instance, the prequels were full of CGI and looked far too glossy, the models/props and lack of CGI used in the original's for some reason looked much better.

For Star Trek CGI seems to work better as the ships are supposed to look shiny and new, Nemises was a great example.
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Old June 26 2014, 01:42 PM   #9
SPCTRE
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Re: Models or CGI?

I voted models, but I'm not exactly opposed to the use of CGI - if it is well done, CGI can create a very believable, even used or lived-in look.
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Old June 26 2014, 01:48 PM   #10
Melakon
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Re: Models or CGI?

It does depend on the film. I'm in the middle of watching Forbidden Planet right now. Even when Anne Francis isn't in a scene, nearly every frame has something to marvel at. I can't imagine a film of such impact being made today.

Apparently there was an idea to remake it a few years back, but it wouldn't be the same. Many shots of C-57D done with live actors would likely be supplemented with CGI, the same when Morbius reveals his Krell lab with the power meters along the walls. Not building something just because you can fix it with CGI seems lazy to me.
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Old June 26 2014, 03:10 PM   #11
BillJ
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Re: Models or CGI?

Both.

Ten years ago, I would have said models but CGI has really grown in the ability to present realistic objects.
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Old June 26 2014, 04:45 PM   #12
137th Gebirg
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Re: Models or CGI?

Both are good, when taken in moderation. VFX of any stripe should never be used as a crutch to hide a weak story.
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Old June 26 2014, 05:15 PM   #13
Shat Happens
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Re: Models or CGI?

border-topic:

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Old June 26 2014, 05:23 PM   #14
Richard Baker
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Re: Models or CGI?

I think it really depends on what you are trying to do with a scene. 'Independence Day' used everything in the book, from rubber bands (Cruise Missle wing deployment) to CGI, mixing from shot to shot.
Models have a certain mass of scale that CGI has to struggle with still. Models also have filming limitations to work around- mounts have to be hidden (The KBoP landing on Vulcan shifted from tail to nose mount as it swept by, using the rock spire to hide the transition).
I remember how the early CGI looked trying to show real non-Tron objects in The Last Starfighter. What we have today is incredible and continues to evolve. I still prefer the look and feel of actual filming models, but CGI can create things that would be either impossible or too time consuming to do physically.
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Old June 26 2014, 06:53 PM   #15
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Re: Models or CGI?

BillJ wrote: View Post
Both.

Ten years ago, I would have said models but CGI has really grown in the ability to present realistic objects.
This.
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