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  #51  
Old 12-05-2019, 08:54 AM
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I kinda like the parting of the Red Sea in the Charlton Heston Ten Commandments.
  #52  
Old 12-05-2019, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael View Post
I kinda like the parting of the Red Sea in the Charlton Heston Ten Commandments.
I do, too. They reportedly would say for years how that was done (and, apparently, a lot of the guys who worked on it were close-lipped). But since then, behind-the-scenes images have emerged. Besides, if you look at it closely you can see how it was done.

They built an enormous system with two upper tanks of water and a lower receiving tank. They opened both upper tanks at once was filmed the water falling against a removable background. That gave them both sides of the Red Sea filling in the gap between -- or at least one element of it. It appears that they repeated the process with the camera place successively further and further back, giving them the shots of falling water at several distances. Then they "stitched" these together (1950s matte technology wasn't the greatest -- you can see when it's being used at several points in the movie, as when the worker waves the signalling pennant during the "raising the obelisk" scene, so you can see when they're doing it in the Red Sea scene). The start of the water falling wasn't the same for all distances, but starts with the farthest away and proceeds gradually towards the front. So you end up with what appears to be a great length of water "zippering" in to fill in the gap across a distanced much, much greater than the size of the water tank.

To "part" the Red Sea, they just ran it backwards.
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  #53  
Old 12-05-2019, 09:16 AM
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I always get a good chuckle out of old movies that have scenes of a ship on a lake or ocean because they're so comically and clearly toy boats on a fake body of water.
There are tons of examples of that. But some are very well done. My favorite case is the 1954 Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Especially, of course, the scenes with the Nautilus. Some of those are really impressive, like this scene showing both the Nautilus and the ship it's attacking (about 20 seconds in):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAkTwIQ8Mfg
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  #54  
Old 12-05-2019, 10:28 AM
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I grew up, like many, thinking Lloyd did that stunt at his own personal risk.

Did Buster Keaton do this insane(illegal?) stunt sequence on a motorcycle?
But Santa's still real, right?
  #55  
Old 12-05-2019, 11:32 AM
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I feel like I just learned Santa Claus wasn't...
Geez, can we use spoiler tags on stuff like this, please?

[pointy red felt junior mod hat doffed]
  #56  
Old 12-05-2019, 02:34 PM
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I just watched it. That's not a projected Superman. It's not Lois standing in front of a front-projection screen, or an acetate screen, or a blue- or green-screen, because the camera moves with her as she goes to the door, and the set behind her (which Reeve in his Superman Suit was standing on) is clearly real, and not a projection. You may think her looks "flat", but that was undoubtedly Reeve in a Superman suit talking with Kidder on the set, then appeared 25 seconds later as Clark Kent at the door. He wasn't matted in or anything. They couldn't erase matte lines that well in 1979 (look at the dark "shadows" around the rod-puppet "Rancor" in Return of the Jedi only four years later. And that was the best effects work of the period)
I'm not sure what your explanation is, Cal (are you saying Reeve got out of the harness and changed his clothes really quickly?), but I have to disagree with you.

In the mid-1980s, the quality of effects shots in movies shown on HBO (the only cable movie network back then, at least where I lived) were really funky. The other example I can think of off the top of my head is in Return of the Jedi, when Luke is training with Yoda and has a whole bunch of crates and rocks and things levitating. In whatever print they showed on HBO, each individual floating object had a different color balance and contrast level it looked phony as hell.

Same thing with this shot from Superman (one of my favorite shots in a movie ever, BTW). Yes, Reeve and Kidder are standing on the balcony set interacting with each other. But for the very last part, when Reeve says, "G'night," does that forehead-salute thing, and flies off, he is in a rear projection. When I watched it on HBO, he and the Manhattan skyline were very grainy and washed out practically to the point of being black and white it was very jarring.

On the one hand, I was fascinated to see how Donner had accomplished it. On the other hand ... well, as Patch said....


P.S. You're right about taking all the user-provided info on IMDB with a ton of salt. Hell, sometimes they contradict each other.
  #57  
Old 12-05-2019, 03:10 PM
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Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent has a hair-raising, realistic aftermath of a plane crash. The wrecked plane seems to be tossed on a horrific ocean, but the scene is filmed in a tank and the backdrop is rear-projection. With every big wave that seems to come crashing from behind the plane, water gushes from the windows as though the wave went right through it.

It's realistic enough to give me goose bumps, but I have a barely-suppressed phobia of flying. I shouldn't watch that scene anymore.
I was thinking of this scene. I read about how they had this big print of the windshield and the ocean and just dumped an enormous tub of water on the set right through it, ripping the paper and swamping the cockpit set. So simple but turned out looking so great.

Last edited by tullsterx; 12-05-2019 at 03:11 PM.
  #58  
Old 12-05-2019, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Cayuga View Post
I'm not sure what your explanation is, Cal (are you saying Reeve got out of the harness and changed his clothes really quickly?), but I have to disagree with you.

In the mid-1980s, the quality of effects shots in movies shown on HBO (the only cable movie network back then, at least where I lived) were really funky. The other example I can think of off the top of my head is in Return of the Jedi, when Luke is training with Yoda and has a whole bunch of crates and rocks and things levitating. In whatever print they showed on HBO, each individual floating object had a different color balance and contrast level — it looked phony as hell.

Same thing with this shot from Superman (one of my favorite shots in a movie ever, BTW). Yes, Reeve and Kidder are standing on the balcony set interacting with each other. But for the very last part, when Reeve says, "G'night," does that forehead-salute thing, and flies off, he is in a rear projection. When I watched it on HBO, he and the Manhattan skyline were very grainy and washed out practically to the point of being black and white — it was very jarring.

.
I disagree strongly. Reeve does NOT look like a rear projection. Ho goes over the edge of the balcony, which is NOT a projection, because the camera swivels with Kidder as she turns and goes to the door. If they'd only shown Reeve after he'd cleared the balcony wall, I could agree that it's a rear projection. But the fact that he crosses that shows that he and the wall are in the same camera shot . And the fact that the camera subsequently moves and the wall disappears from sight shows that the wall is not itself part of a rear-projection shot.

Reeve clearly didn't have time to divest himself of a harness. It had to be under his Clark Kent jacket, which is believable, since I've seen actors on stage in flying harnesses that were concealable under clothes.

The Clark Kent outfit need not have been the full suit it appears to be. They could prepare a shirt/vest/tie front that got slapped onto him really quick (like an "anti-breakaway" outfit), then put the suit jacket on him. It'd be a real quick change, but it could be done.


The alternative is that they "blended" two separate shoots at the moment that Lois walks behind a plant after turning away from Superman (at 6-7 on that Youtube video). It doesn't completely hide her, but it would make any sudden "jump" from editing two scenes together a lot less obvious. And it would explain why she had to walk behind that plant, which is otherwise not necessary.
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Last edited by CalMeacham; 12-05-2019 at 03:19 PM.
  #59  
Old 12-05-2019, 03:54 PM
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A lot of special effects work looks as if it was contrived to impress other special effects creators, and make them ask "how did they do that?" Ray Harryhausen did this quite a bit. A lot of his shots were wonderfully atmospheric , like the Rhedosaurus attack on the lighthouse, done almost entirely in silhouette, in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, or the scene from the same film where the Beast attacks a gun emplacement in New York City, and it's lit entirely by muzzle flashes from the guns. Or the scene in Five Million Miles to Earth where the Venusian Ymir attacks a dog in a barn, and the entire scene is only seen as the shadows of the animals on the barn wall.


But when he did Jason and the Argonauts he pulled off a very neat trick. Jason is a human actor, and the Hydra is one of Harryhausen's stop-motion models. There are various ways of combining them into the same shot, short of straight matte work. You could rear-project the animated hydra behind Jason, or animate the hydra model in front of a projected scene (frame by frame) of Jason. but in one scene Jason takes his very real sword, which the actor is holding, and stabs it right into the model hydra. How did he do that?

He had the actor drop the sword, and he "erased" it from subsequent frames by matte work. Then, when he rear-projected the scene behind the Hydra (although Jason appears to be to the side of the monster), he used an "aerial brace" (a fancy name for "they do it with wires") to suspend a model sword directly in front of the real sword, and this model sword is what plunged into the model hydra.

It's at about 2:40 here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow-dkIuIaz8

Incidentally, I'm awed by the animation of the hydra. It has seven heads and two tails, and Harryhausen had to remember from frame to frame not only which way each of them was moving, but how quickly they were moving, as well. Otherwise, the motion would not appear fluid. In the scenes where the hydra is holding a model human, you have to add all the human limbs as well, even if they were only under the influence of gravity.
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The makers of the GoPro have to come out with a model called the "Quid"

Last edited by CalMeacham; 12-05-2019 at 03:54 PM.
  #60  
Old 12-05-2019, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I disagree strongly. Reeve does NOT look like a rear projection. Ho goes over the edge of the balcony, which is NOT a projection, because the camera swivels with Kidder as she turns and goes to the door. If they'd only shown Reeve after he'd cleared the balcony wall, I could agree that it's a rear projection. But the fact that he crosses that shows that he and the wall are in the same camera shot . And the fact that the camera subsequently moves and the wall disappears from sight shows that the wall is not itself part of a rear-projection shot.

Reeve clearly didn't have time to divest himself of a harness. It had to be under his Clark Kent jacket, which is believable, since I've seen actors on stage in flying harnesses that were concealable under clothes.

The Clark Kent outfit need not have been the full suit it appears to be. They could prepare a shirt/vest/tie front that got slapped onto him really quick (like an "anti-breakaway" outfit), then put the suit jacket on him. It'd be a real quick change, but it could be done.


The alternative is that they "blended" two separate shoots at the moment that Lois walks behind a plant after turning away from Superman (at 6-7 on that Youtube video). It doesn't completely hide her, but it would make any sudden "jump" from editing two scenes together a lot less obvious. And it would explain why she had to walk behind that plant, which is otherwise not necessary.

Looks like rear projection to me. At the 40 second mark, Ms. Kidder is standing in front of an RP screen on set. The footage being projected is of the entire BG of the set as well as Mr. Reeve as he takes off. Subsequently, they pan off the RP screen with Ms. Kidder as she walks screen left. The foliage she walks behind at the 53 second mark is critically placed because it is hiding the edge of the RP screen. When she gets to the other side of it, the BG is part of the set.

Last edited by Dropo; 12-05-2019 at 04:09 PM.
  #61  
Old Yesterday, 09:38 AM
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Looks like rear projection to me. At the 40 second mark, Ms. Kidder is standing in front of an RP screen on set. The footage being projected is of the entire BG of the set as well as Mr. Reeve as he takes off. Subsequently, they pan off the RP screen with Ms. Kidder as she walks screen left. The foliage she walks behind at the 53 second mark is critically placed because it is hiding the edge of the RP screen. When she gets to the other side of it, the BG is part of the set.
I've just re-watched it several times. Possible.
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The makers of the GoPro have to come out with a model called the "Quid"
  #62  
Old Yesterday, 09:44 AM
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I'm still impressed by the effects in the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. They still hold up remarkably well. Many are very simple effects -- make things glow so bright that you can easily hide the substitution of "melted" guns for the original ones -- but are still sophisticated-looking all these years later precisely because they were so simple. The "invisible" grooves of the ramp of Klaatu's ship were apparently done by filming in reverse, so that there were no visible seams before the scene started. My favorite is Gort's "laser visor". That visor slowly being raised, and the view of the light inside still looks good, even after all these years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6iF5sINVns

Gort's suit was supposed made of thick leather painted to look like metal (I'm told they did the same for the Tin Man's suit in The Wizard of Oz), and they used different suits from scenes showing Gort's front and his back, so the seams wouldn't show. One nifty thing was that the leather suit let his knees flex without obvious hinges, as if the metal itself were bending, which is pretty neat in 1951. I still think that the 1951 Gort still looks infinitely more believable than the CGI model one in the 2008 remake.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiuP8h1JbkE
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The makers of the GoPro have to come out with a model called the "Quid"

Last edited by CalMeacham; Yesterday at 09:47 AM.
  #63  
Old Today, 02:10 AM
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If you've ever watched the plethora of 1950's black & white sci-fi films, then you know how bad bad can get when it comes to not-so-special effects. A remarkable exception to this, however, is the 1953 version of, "The War of the Worlds", starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. Not only is it in color, but it has, what was for that time anyway, rocking special effects. It just totally stood out from its 1950's peers in terms of quality.
I really wish they'd go back and clean that movie up. For the first battle when the ships come out of the crater, the 'shots' bouncing off the clear shields look terrible, and you can clearly see the wires holding the ships up. The obvious stock footage is also horribly cut in. It needs an updated special edition.

It's a cheesy premise, but I really liked the special effects in The Monolith Monsters. Water is really hard to model in miniature, and you see a lot of bad model shots in movies. They must have built a huge set when they filmed their dam break, and it looks better than stuff even out of the 80s.
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