Star Trek TNG Remastered?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jiraiya, May 9, 2009.

  1. 3D Master

    3D Master Rear Admiral

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    CGI could be better than model work, except that the CGI guys, under contract by producers and such, don't make it better.

    CGI would allow one to do things a model wouldn't be allowed; like making ships meet each other NOT both straight up; meeting in every angle possible. Similarly the ships could move at every angle.

    The problem with CGI is the problem that SF SFX have been plaguing since Star Wars; stylish, brightly lit, flashy, and thus extremely 2D pictures. They look like cartoons.

    The reason why model work thus looks better, is even with the flashy overlit stuff that makes it look very flat, it's still an actual, solid model, an object, being filmed.

    CGI by contrast isn't an actual model, and so when they make it look brightly light, and flashy, shadows become either non-existent or exist only lightly, often with conflicting lightsources: it becomes extremely flat, even more so than wrongly lit models.

    You can see this extremely well in Star Trek versus the new effects versions and later TOS mvoies. The original Star Trek was before the Star Wars flashy convention; they're budget was small, so they wanted to get as much out of it as possible; they lit and filmed the model to highlight that it is an actual solid object; you can see it physically there. Watch the later TOS movies still with models, and you'll notice they are much less physically there; looking very flat and 2D - completely wrong lighting. Then check out the remastered new SFX, and you notice it is even flatter than the original effects and the TOS movie effects.

    The problem is thus with the lighting and the conventional SFX for space ships to be brightly lit and visible - NOT with CGI versus model work itself.

    Modeler's on the net, aren't limited to that, so to illustrate, I'll put a couple of pictures here; and I'd like you to say which are models and which are CGI. Now, don't reason about it; especially if you know the models and look for differences in the CGI mesh used, you could reason it out, so you should just look at them a few moments, and then decide, model or CGI:

    1. [​IMG]

    2. [​IMG]

    3. [​IMG]

    4. [​IMG]

    5. [​IMG]

    6. [​IMG]

    7. [​IMG]

    8. [​IMG]

    9. [​IMG]

    10. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    If that really was the whole point, then we'd still be doing all the other things with miniatures, because you'd be choosing the proper solution for a given shot, rather than just sweeping the whole list into the CG bag.

    By doing beauty shots in CG, you're competing with physicality, reality, plus all the happenstance stuff you can't program for. Distant shots, fleet shots, ... sure, use CG, just like in pre-digital days you could use photo cutouts and animated them in views that don't involve perspective change. But close in stuff, or pyro stuff ... usually doesn't work as well, unless you are using huge files, 8k or more, and finishing at 4K, not 2K. And even then the artists have a lot of variance.

    Plus the bit about doing the impossible shots is that sometimes those shots shouldn't be done just because some aspect of them seems impossible and it will take away from overall credibility.
     
  3. 3D Master

    3D Master Rear Admiral

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    Except that pyro stuff and explosions are perfect for CGI. You can't blow up a physical model unless you have a MASSIVE, MASSIVE budget that allows you to continue building new models and blowing them up again and again. Result being; the only thing you see is an explosion and nothing else - as they remove the model so it doesn't get destroyed - only the orange ball of fire you'll see. CGI allows you to blow up ships, and send pieces of them flying away and such.
     
  4. Butters

    Butters Captain Captain

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    I am in agreement with the 3D guy. And this shot in particular, with the galactic core behind and the lack of ambient light. This is a look that would enhance trek. Not dimish it. Bring on the new visuals now.
     
  5. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I'll agree that CG can EMBELLISH a good pyro blast, adding what you're talking about, but I really like full-on practical pyro ... You can blow up a shell that conforms to the hero miniature and load it up with goodies, if you don't want to waste a mocon miniature ... and assuming you are willing to have a fireball for the effect, that is.

    For spaceships blowing up IN SPACE, I strongly prefer the SILENT RUNNING ball-of-light blast type effect, or maybe that along with the burning embers on the hull kinda thing.
     
  6. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Most of those in the middle are CGI, but I have to say, the majority of those look better than the miniature shots you posted.
     
  7. 3D Master

    3D Master Rear Admiral

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    How about going one by one and saying which you all think are models and which you think is CGI. And then you can see if you're right when I give the definitive answer.
     
  8. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I think you've hit the nail on the head.

    Even though I agree with you, I'll give your challenge a go.

    1. CGI
    2. Won't load for me
    3. CGI
    4. CGI
    5. Model
    6. CGI
    7. Model
    8. Model
    9. Model
    10. Model
     
  9. Gary Sebben

    Gary Sebben Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The CG renders are pretty obvious. They're the ones with way to much detail visible despite the distance of the lens. They do look like cartoons.
     
  10. FalTorPan

    FalTorPan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So... which ones are "obviously" CGI? :p
     
  11. Gary Sebben

    Gary Sebben Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The "obviously" CG are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9. The rest are either better CGI or models. Some of them are tougher to spot than others, but mostly because all these scenes were touched up in a computer with some CG elements added to each as well. #5 in particular is a pretty famous model shot pasted on to a horrible corel photo paint cloud texture.
     
  12. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This is a silly argument...CGI bad because they have to be lit to be seen on screen? :lol:

    A good CGI model can look as detailed as the real thing, and the dynamics of movement from CGI work makes the medium superior to motion control. ST 09s ships are by far the best, most solid and realistic ships I have ever seen in space FX.

    RAMA
     
  13. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Then you need to see more movies.

    Just based on the trailer, that stuff in your trekflick doesn't begin to compare with SOLARIS ship CG, or any number of miniature-based shows ranging from SPACE COWBOYS to EVENT HORIZON or 2001, 2010 ... hell, I don't need to give you the list.
     
  14. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've seen them all...and several of those don't have CGI btw...but the ST 09 movie surpasses any CGI ships ever, including the previous best, Solaris.

    RAMA
     
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Then you may have seen them without WATCHING.
     
  16. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ..And you haven't watched it at all therefore your opinion isn't really that meaningful to me.

    RAMA
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I've seen that built on earth shot and the close shots in the trailer plenty of times ... and they always suck. though the KELVIN stuff looked pretty good.
     
  18. Maxwell Everett

    Maxwell Everett Commodore Commodore

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    5 & 7 are the 6ft. model and 10 is the 4ft. model introduced in season 3. The rest are CGI of varying quality.
     
  19. 3D Master

    3D Master Rear Admiral

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    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: [​IMG]
    Model by Ralph Schoberth.
    Image (or as many artists put it, check it out: Scene and LIGHTING) by Blumenkohl.


    2. CGI: [​IMG]
    Model by Itruinedmylife.
    Image by Darkness.


    3. CGI: [​IMG]
    Image by IRLM


    4. CGI: [​IMG]
    Enterprise model by Dave Clark.
    Spacedock model by LilPigBoy.
    Image by Nate Howe.


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


    6. CGI: [​IMG]
    Model by Dave Clark.
    Image by Darkness-Gfx.


    7. Model: [​IMG]
    A promotional shot.


    8. CGI: [​IMG]
    Model by Nico.
    Image by Reality Overdrive.


    9. CGI: [​IMG]
    Galaxy Class and Drydock models: Nico Weigand.
    Image by Deks.


    10. Model: [​IMG]
    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);

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [LEFT]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:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    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:

    [​IMG]
    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.
    [/LEFT]
     
  20. Gary Sebben

    Gary Sebben Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Look, I know this is important to you. You wrote a lot about it and you're name is "3D Master" so I assume CG is a hobby or even a job of yours. But we pretty much answered which were which. CG is obvious in its cartooniness and often very easy to pick out. Now, I HAVE seen CG that is pretty darn good with proper lighting, texturing, and focal depth, but not often. It makes me thing that modelers thing the can improve on reality when that really just makes things look off.

    And no, I don't find the last picture convincing. The particle effects look cheap. The runabout looks like its standing still. Both it and the E are in focus while the nacelle is not. And the ship just looks overly detailed from this distance.

    The best pic in this whole lot is the #7, the model. Its got great light and shadow, great tonal range. The focal depth is great. Closer details are sharp, details further away gently become softer. And they didn't need a lot of software and training to try to simulate what they remember what reality should look like, they just let the lens do the work.