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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
"dragon fire", conventional fire effects versus digital fire
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MouthofSauron
Tol Eressea


Apr 23 2013, 7:32am

Post #1 of 26 (933 views)
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"dragon fire", conventional fire effects versus digital fire Can't Post

the only complaint i had with the visual effects (90 percent were top notch) was smaug's fire. I don't know, everytime i watch the opening sequence with smaug raining down fire i think it could have been more realistic. -I hope in DOS the fire effects are better, i also hope they use conventional fire effects when possible. Last sunday's game of thrones for example, when the dragon breathed fire onto a certain person, i read that it was actually a flamethrower shot down onto the stunt man. -A better choice in my opinion than CGI fire.


take me down to the woodland realm where the trees are green and the elf women are pretty....Oh will you please take me home!!

(This post was edited by MouthofSauron on Apr 23 2013, 7:40am)


Joe20
Lorien


Apr 23 2013, 7:46am

Post #2 of 26 (448 views)
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Yep I hope so too [In reply to] Can't Post

Though there will obviously be shots that can be done no other way than to cgi it. But in the leaked version of vlog 8, there was certainly alot of actual fire used on the attack of laketown. So fingers crossed!


Arannir
Valinor

Apr 23 2013, 7:47am

Post #3 of 26 (473 views)
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I actually thought... [In reply to] Can't Post

... the mix of real and CGI fire in GoT last Sunday did not work at all for this otherwise epic scene (however, it was much better than last season).


DanielLB
Immortal


Apr 23 2013, 8:19am

Post #4 of 26 (477 views)
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One of the examples where I felt HFR ruined the film. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think the CGI is at a high-enough standard (yet) for HFR to look good.


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea

Apr 23 2013, 9:28am

Post #5 of 26 (442 views)
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Digital fire. [In reply to] Can't Post

There was a lot of digital fire in AUJ. Sometimes it looks great (the troll scene), sometimes it's not quite there (when Bilbo and Gandalf talk near Bilbo's fireplace).

I actually really like how they're doing Smaug's fire, how he seems to spit flaming black globs that almost look like crude oil from an oil spill, and how it literally rains down from above and sticks to whatever surface it hits. It has a real weight to it. I can't wait to see it's destructive power as it blasts into Laketown.

I'm actually still really impressed with the Balrog's fire, and how "real" that looks.


Arannir
Valinor

Apr 23 2013, 9:47am

Post #6 of 26 (408 views)
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I also liked that... [In reply to] Can't Post

... Smaug's fire sometimes even has a "watery" feeling to it... for example when it clashes against the city gate and then just "splashes" through the streets.


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 23 2013, 10:58am

Post #7 of 26 (392 views)
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It looked dangerous enough to me.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Have you ever seen what real dragon fire looks like? If not, how can you tell?

Thing is, none of this is real. You buy into it or you don't - and if you're scanning the screen for things that don't look real of course you'll find them - your brain knows it's all make-believe. These sort of discussions always make me smile, because I know how breathtaking special effects are now compared to the kind of techniques that were used not so very long ago.

BTW - if you have seen real dragon fire I envy you - I'm still looking...... Wink


imin
Valinor


Apr 23 2013, 11:13am

Post #8 of 26 (382 views)
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Have you ever seen real flames and fire? [In reply to] Can't Post

If you have then basically that is all you need.

If its just a matter of buying into it or not then they might as well do away with all the millions they spent on CGI and just use puppets as we know its all make believe but we either buy into it or not right?

I think when it gets as close to real life as it is currently some things look incredible and can be hard to distinguish between what is actually real and what is CGI. So when something is a little bit off it is almost more noticeable and more disconcerting.

People's expectations change with the advancements of technology if they didn't then no one would strive to better anything and we would still be watching silent movies in grainy black and white.

Comments about the fire are a compliment to the film as it shows the OP had no other CGI based concerns so they must be doing something right!

Give it 10-20 years and flames/fire in movies will look no different to real life fire - though i think fire is similar to eyes - so incredibly difficult to get perfected by CGI.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 23 2013, 1:06pm

Post #9 of 26 (345 views)
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Yes, but I've never seen dragon fire... [In reply to] Can't Post

... and nor have you.

All fantasy is a matter of buying into it or not. Like it or not, if you're going to enjoy fantasy then at some point you have to let go of that niggling little voice inside your head that says, 'this isn't real' - because it isn't. It can't be. The fun lies in letting yourself be taken into some world that you know can't exist, but wouldn't the universe be richer and more interesting if it did? Anyone who can't make that deal with fantasy - and many don't - will never understand the point of it.

But having said that, there's a good reason why the filmmakers don't 'do away with all the millions they spent on CGI...' as you put it. A very good reason. They're artists, they relish the challenge. They like to hear the gasps of surprise when they push the illusion that little bit further. I make models, one-sixth scale figure, usually portraits of someone. The challenge for me is to make them so perfect that in a photograph they look like real people. I know that absolute perfection isn't possible, but you can always push it a little bit further and a little bit further... That's why they do it - that little bit further.


imin
Valinor


Apr 23 2013, 1:35pm

Post #10 of 26 (324 views)
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The ability to be able to have the challenge [In reply to] Can't Post

comes from the public's demand for more realistic effects otherwise there would be no money involved to do those things and films would focus on other areas.

It is romantic to think the evolution of effects comes down purely to people wanting to challenge themselves and that is part of it but the driving factor is money - if the audience didn't care then films like Avatar wouldn't have made so much - which means no money would be spend on the CGI which means no one doing it for a job/far fewer for less pay. I think it is a different situation than you making figures personally.

I don't need to have seen dragon fire to know what fire looks like that is what the OP is saying. Have you seen fire? If so then you know the fire on screen in AUJ didn't look 100% real, simple as that. People are saying the fire coming out of a dragon should look real - saying but its dragon fire is just an excuse to me.

Comments about CGI show that it is improving but still has room to improve - it isn't in itself saying people who criticize can't suspend their disbelief. As i said people can watch fully animated films or puppets but still enjoy them. The reason the fire seems odd is because the rest of it (from some people's pov) is great.

If things are far from realistic it can be easier to suspend disbelief than when they are almost correct but just get some details off slightly i think this is something people forget.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


Old Toby
Gondor


Apr 23 2013, 3:44pm

Post #11 of 26 (299 views)
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I never even considered that the dragon fire didn't look 'real' [In reply to] Can't Post

Then again, I haven't ever witnessed real dragon fire. Tongue But even if you assume that it might look exactly like the kinds of fire we are used to seeing in our lives, honestly I didn't have a problem with it in the film. Certainly not to the point of thinking, 'Whoa, that fake dragon fire just took me right out of the film!" Not that I'm saying it had that extreme of an effect on anyone here, but you get my drift. Actually I really loved the way Smaug shot a fire blast at that tower in Dale. I thought it was great! And I loved the scene when Smaug was breathing fire against the doors of Erebor with the dwarves standing against him on the other side. Looked real enough to me anyways.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


Rostron2
Gondor


Apr 23 2013, 4:45pm

Post #12 of 26 (249 views)
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Thank you, well said // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Loresilme
Valinor


Apr 23 2013, 4:51pm

Post #13 of 26 (259 views)
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I thought so too! [In reply to] Can't Post

You beat me to this posting :-). I was noticing how the fire crashed through the gates and kept 'rolling' through the street as if it was some type of flaming liquid. It actually got me thinking about the mechanics of dragon fire - it might make sense, that there could be some dragon saliva mixed in there that could create a liquidy-fiery mixture.


Bombadil
Half-elven


Apr 23 2013, 5:05pm

Post #14 of 26 (260 views)
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Someone more close to the Production would know... [In reply to] Can't Post

Elijah once said
Years ago..during production he met the Techie
who invented Digital Fire?
for the Lighting of the Beacons...

So.. that Software has probably been reFIRE-erned
over the Years..
Bomby


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 23 2013, 6:44pm

Post #15 of 26 (220 views)
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Well, you're making the assumption.... [In reply to] Can't Post

... that I make models for my own amusement. I don't. I make them to commission, for money. It's one of the many and varied ways I've earned a living over the years. So although the situation is different in that I only have one customer to please, it's not that different, and it's the reason why I can tell you with a degree of confidence that when a person does that kind of work, any artistic work really, the money is not the driving force. Of course it's important, not least because it enables you to do the thing you love all the time, it doesn't drive you on as much as the challenge of taking on something really difficult and pulling it off. That's what really drives people to improve. I wouldn't mind betting that the digital artists who devise the effects for these films and others started doing that kind of thing for fun, because they enjoy creating and are hooked on the challenge. And if there were no big budget films or computer games they might have to find other sorts of employment but they'd still be sketching or modelling or designing in their own time, still trying to edge that little bit closer to perfection.

I'll say it once more and then wander off; the dragon fire in AUJ did look 100% real to me. I've lost count of the number of times I've watched it and it still looks real. And yes, I have seen fire before. If it didn't look real to you then there's nothing I can do or say about that, but it's your reaction, not an absolute truth. I'm not the enemy here, just someone who doesn't agree that the flame looks wrong.


imin
Valinor


Apr 23 2013, 6:57pm

Post #16 of 26 (217 views)
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I never said it doesn't look real either [In reply to] Can't Post

As i never said anything about it either way as i was describing what the OP was saying. For me they actually look real enough to not think about them, i just thought your comment on how we don't know what dragon fire looks like so anything goes was wrong.

I think it leads down the road of stories eventually having no internal logic which then makes everything a mess as anything can happen at any time.

The people who are the CGI artists i have no doubt started just out of the love of making art and now have that joy with the added benefit of earning a living from it. However it is not this love that is driving the increase in CGI technologies, it is because people - the audience - want ever more realistic effects and show their demand with how much money films make, this ends up in the pockets of CGI artists eventually. If people felt CGI looked terrible then studios would not make films in that way and the technology would go in a different direction.

You said people will always have niggling thoughts and at some point just have to let go and suspend their disbelief, something people find difficult with fantasy - well better CGI helps people suspend their disbelief - surely that is a good thing and the OP voicing their concern in this way just shows how good it has got to only be bothered by the fire in the film.

Again it's my belief that if things are almost real but can be seen to be not quite right, its more unsettling than something more abstract/far removed from reality such as special effects from say 20 years ago.

I don't see you as an enemy at all - perhaps my language i have used has made me sound angry/harsh when really i am not at all, i just don't agree with the premise that anything is ok as it's fantasy and should just let it slide i feel with that attitude nothing improves and in stories there needs some level of internal logic something Tolkien strived for in his stories all his life.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 23 2013, 7:26pm

Post #17 of 26 (208 views)
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Well, OK.... [In reply to] Can't Post

.. and I never said that anything goes. You're right, fantasy has to work according to its own internal logic. Clearly we disagree on what rules should determine the look of dragon fire but that's another question!

Put simply, all I'm saying is that fantasy needs to be approached open-eyed. You have to start by being willing to let the story happen and to embrace it as a child does. That doesn't mean that anything goes. If the story isn't well-written or the film well-made, if it doesn't follow some form of internal logic, true to itself, then it will lose you and you'll walk away from it - they don't all work.

As for the continual striving for better and better effects, are you absolutely sure that's driven by the audience? I'm not. When Peter Jackson announced that he was going for 3D and 48fps, who shouted loudest - the people who were all for this new technology or the ones who wanted 2D and 24 fps, just like the LotR films? And how many threads have we had in here bewailing 'too much CGI', the loss of scale models and the change from film to digital? I reckon the audience likes best what it knows and it's the filmmakers who want to experiment all the time and push the technology forward....


imin
Valinor


Apr 23 2013, 7:51pm

Post #18 of 26 (194 views)
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I apologize [In reply to] Can't Post

I think i took your comment in a different way to how you intended it. I felt you were essentially saying - its fantasy so as we don't know it could be anything e.g. jelly beans like flight of the conchords, lol.

I agree and disagree with what you say about film and technology. It is down to directors or artists but the pressure on them is down to the audiences - if they don't like something they won't go and watch it. So saying audiences like best what they know isn't really true - people may be apprehensive but people are also curious and will try out new things - if its good then that thing will continue in its existence, if not then it dies out. Around half the tickets for movies that are in both 3D and 2D are sold for 3D films - this shows it has been a success and studios will continue to do films like that until its not. I feel the same way for CGI - a film may be made in that technology - e.g. Toy Story - now if that was a big flop it may not be down to the CGI and so maybe someone else tries it out but again if that's a flop and reviews are all negative about the effects then studios will soon realise this is silly and won't put any money into developing the technology and artists doing CGI now would most likely go down other paths for employment. So in this industry i see it as been driven by the audience as they are the ones who control things as they have the money.

the reason they (dilm studios, directors) are having to try different things is down to audiences getting smaller - especially in the US compared to what they were - I think PJ said something to that affect as to why he chose to use 48fps - which isn't new tech by the way, its just different to what we are used to - used in the hope of drawing in more of the younger generation to generate more money - if it doesnt work then 48fps will die out.

It is not always like this for every industry of course and for lots of science based industries things are done just to gain more knowledge and only later are commercial avenues explored with the new knowledge.

Really all the CGI comment which took away from what i was really trying to say was that i felt you said CGI looks good enough as we should just suspend our disbelief and again was related to people should just suspend their disbelief no matter what we see because its fantasy and we are lucky its as good as it is already so stop complaining, lol.

I do agree fantasy needs to be watched with a greater level of suspension of ones disbelief than a film trying to be completely logical and factually correct. But like i said above there needs to be something gluing it all together.

I don't think though someone saying the fire doesn't look real is the same as them saying their suspension of disbelief was broken more something they noticed - doesn't always have to take you out of the film.

And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.


jtarkey
Rohan


Apr 23 2013, 7:58pm

Post #19 of 26 (217 views)
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All of the CGI fire in the film looked teribble to me [In reply to] Can't Post

It also just seems lazy, on the filmmakers parts, to put in so much unnecessary fake fire. Why couldn't the fire in Bag End be real? Why couldn't the fire at the trollshaws be real? I don't understand why directors and effects artists nowadays assume CGI is photorealistic, and can be plastered all over everything.

Remember in ROTK, when the horse kicked Denethor onto the flames? The horse wouldn't go near any actual flames, so they lit a fire on the other side of the room and used mirrors to project it onto the pyre. It's totally seamless, and you would never guess that the pyre isn't actually on fire without knowledge of how the shot was done.

CGI can be a great tool, but it can also suck the creativity out of a production if it isn't used wisely.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea

Apr 23 2013, 10:28pm

Post #20 of 26 (157 views)
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I'm guessing... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It also just seems lazy, on the filmmakers parts, to put in so much unnecessary fake fire. Why couldn't the fire in Bag End be real? Why couldn't the fire at the trollshaws be real?

... it's because both those scenes were effects heavy sequences. Obviously, the trolls needed to be integrated into their scene, and at Bag End, it was compositing Gandalf into Bag End with Bilbo. In those cases, i'm assuming that it's just easier to add the flames in post than to work around existing flames when compositing in the trolls or Gandalf.

Personally, i thought the flames in the troll scene looked great, and would never have noticed if i hadn't seen how it was shot in the Vlogs, but the fire in Bag End was a little more obviously CG.


Aragorn the Elfstone
Grey Havens


Apr 23 2013, 10:40pm

Post #21 of 26 (158 views)
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CGI as a default... [In reply to] Can't Post

It is a bit unnerving to me that as time goes on, filmmakers tend to do anything that can be done in CGI in CGI. After PJ's wonderful use of different visual effects in LotR, I didn't see him being one of these filmmakers, but here we are. By contrast, Ridley Scott still used an incredible amount of practical effects in his film Prometheus. The film itself may have had some issues, but the visual design and execution was first rate. IMO, it should have won the award for best visual effects.

Christopher Nolan is another director who insists on using practical effects whenever possible (the hallway fight scene in Inception is a masterful example of this).

"All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to find that it was vanity; But the dreamers of day are dangerous men. That they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible."
- T.E. Lawrence


jtarkey
Rohan


Apr 24 2013, 3:24am

Post #22 of 26 (119 views)
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I understand that it's easier for them to add those elements in later but... [In reply to] Can't Post

That is the whole problem. They are doing it just because it's easier, not because it looks better on screen.

I'm sure they could have had real fire in both Bag End and the Trollshaws if they wanted to spend the time to make it look good.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


MouthofSauron
Tol Eressea


Apr 24 2013, 4:37am

Post #23 of 26 (122 views)
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i mostly agree [In reply to] Can't Post

in my opinion you only result to CGI fire when there is no possible way to accomplish the effect conventionally.


take me down to the woodland realm where the trees are green and the elf women are pretty....Oh will you please take me home!!


Sinister71
Tol Eressea


Apr 24 2013, 1:11pm

Post #24 of 26 (99 views)
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use of a flamethrower would work [In reply to] Can't Post

if you've ever seen one they are quite cool to witness in person Wink. and if it were done right with one, the flames would look like they were being spewed out of a dragon. Personally I think it would be much better than fake looking flames that are obviously CGI.


QuackingTroll
Valinor


Apr 24 2013, 1:26pm

Post #25 of 26 (103 views)
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I'm using a RED Scarlet for a college project [In reply to] Can't Post

And we've noticed that fire generally looks weird on these cameras. So I'm not sure that The Hobbit's fire problem is entirely down to bad CGI.

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