Making Movies with Models [Obsolete Special Effects]

Is it still economically feasible to use models, matte paintings, and similar non-CGI effects to make a movie? Considering how many of the experts must have retired, is it even possible? In my opinion, the old style effects often look better.

I thought this thread was going to be about something else, and I highly doubt that I’m the only one.

Peter Jackson used a large number of models and miniatures in LOTR. Didn’t seem to have any problem finding the right people to make & shoot them. CGI often works better as a spice than a main dish.

Ah, crap. Could a mod kindly add [Obsolete Special Effects] or something similar to the title? Thanks.

Well, Mrs. Cake pretty much said what I was gonna say. Too slow once again.

It would totally impossible to make a Wallace and Grommet type movie today :smiley:

Back when Spider-Man was released a few years ago, I found it amusing no end when people complained about the “bad CG” in the scenes where he’s wallcrawling. They made those scenes, predictably, by building a horizontal “wall” on the floor and had him actually crawl on them.

Independence Day used models. There’s no reason why it can’t still be used.

As long as Rosco stays in business making bright green and blue paint, there will be people shooting physical effects with mattes and models.

Used judiciously, CGI can be effective, but as Mrs. Cake said, it’s best used as a spice. Otherwise, you get something like 300, which gets visually tiring after a while - there’s something “just not right” about things, and when you find out how much of that production was digitally created, you think “Aha, that’s why.”

It’s a bit ironic how 10-15 years ago, we’d get all gaga because a movie’s effects were done in a computer. Now, we’re excited when we find that the effects were done with tangible miniatures, mattes and whatnot.

The underground chase sequence in The Dark Knight used some small scale models here and there.

The extras on one of the LOTR DVDs talked about the maxi min models or something like that - they made these huge models that they could then do fly-by camera shooting on (mainly the castles, huge statues, etc.). They look better than CGI, and you can get some cool camera effects too.

Dude, Independence Day is from 1996. Don’t you feel like a fogey now? :stuck_out_tongue:

“Bigatures” was what they called them. I think they thought it was silly to call something over 20’ tall a miniature … .

They used matte paintings too in LOTR. Jackson obviously took whatever technique he thought would work best for the effect he wanted.

I’m puzzled by this account. I know the guy at Sony Imageworks who was the lead character animator on the first Spider-Man movie. I don’t think there was even one ‘wall-crawling’ scene that was actually shot as you describe; every ‘wall-crawling’ scene involved an animated figure. If I understand correctly, this was because they could never get a real human figure to move in quite the desired way. However, I could well be wrong.

Do you have a source for the ‘horizontal wall’ version of events?

I think a few movies still do use miniatures or costume suits, and generally they look better, although some CGI like on BSG manage to do it pretty well.

Except for the scene where Peter is out of costume and first learns to wall crawl, I’m pretty sure the rest of the scenes were CGI, and did look fairly crappy. Daredevil also had crappy jumping scenes. The only movie I’ve ever seen heroic jumping and climbing done well was in Watchmen.

The only CGI living things I’ve seen done well have been in Watchmen and Primeval. Generally suits/puppets fare better like in Hitchhiker’s Guide and Hellboy.

Knowing that both CGI and puppets or models can be done well now, it’s very frustrating to me when effects are done poorly. Especially on big budget movies - if low budget tv series and movies can get it right surely it’s not a money issue. Just hire the people that do it right and fire the people that suck at it already.

The DVD extras on the last 4 seasons of “doctor who” (2005-2008) show many miniatures being used, as well as green screen, matte painting, CGI, and the modern version of rubber monster suits. Whatever works.

Except that it’s the first, uncostumed scene that everyone was complaining about at the time.

There’s something about minatures, even if they’re smaller than real there’s a kind of solidness to them that CGI just can’t match. There was some motorcycle racing movie that came out a few years ago that featured bikes jumping all kinds of stuff: cars, explosions, onto trains. It all looked so obvious and faked in the trailers. I admit I didn’t see it, maybe it looked better in the theater, but I doubt it.

The trick is, I think, to use everything available. If the effects creator constantly changes up what you’re actually seeing, your eye doesn’t get used to it and figure out the effect.

As an example, many many years ago, I saw a behind the scenes look at Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the chase with Eddie in Benny the Cab in particular. Zemekis pointed out in slow motion all the different technicues used during that sequence and he kept changing them up. First the car was a cartoon and Eddie was real, then Eddie and the car were cartoons, then Eddie was real but his hands were drawn in or whatever.

Sometimes, but have you seen Night of the Lepus?