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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
I just realized something cgi vs makeup
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Aug 18 2013, 9:19pm

Post #26 of 37 (300 views)
To be honest ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know enough about the post-production process nor the ins and outs of CGI and prosthetic production to comment any further (especially on costing). Ultimately, there are pros and cons for both, and a there will always be a group (however big or small) that will be unhappy with a certain decision.

I think it ultimately comes down to what you said, with the most important part empahsised:

If they made real masks and more practical sets and bigatures like they did in LOTR and with the same quality or better, people would have not complained and we probably would not be having this conversation, on the contrary, they would had commended PJ for not going down the path "go digital" on almost everything like Lucas and Cameron did. So, that's my answer.

It would need to be better than 10 years ago. CGI doesn't always mean better, but I think in this instance, the advancements in CGI in the last 10 years outweigh the reasons to use prostheses. And I have a rather unpopular opinion - I think Azog is unbelievable realistic. Yes, I love always the Yazneg-design he originally had, but CGI Azog is terrifying. In my opinion, Azog is a much better Orc than Lurtz was - and that's all down to the design. Likewise, I have no problem with the Goblintown faces. If you lined up Moria, Goblintown and Isengard Orcs, and asked a group of laymen which were CGI and masked Orcs, not everyone would get them all right.

It's all rather subjective, isn't it?



Aug 19 2013, 2:44am

Post #27 of 37 (265 views)
I thought the CGI was good, and ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't "hate" it in AUJ, but by using Avatar as an example, the alien blue guys in that looked good, BUT there was no previous point of reference as to what they should look like so as to create expectations.

With LOTR we had a prior look and at least in my case, I developed expectations as to what the orcs should look like in AUJ.
Two other orcs I thought looked good were Snaga and Shagrat in Cirith Ungol. I prefer them as well as Lurtz to the Goblintown goblins and Azog. The dwarves were all prosthetics and make up and I thought they looked superior to the CGI goblins in AUJ as well, because when you look at them you can actually see every individual hair and the facial expressions are real the eyes are real ... it just looks better to me. Gimli was a bit dodgy at times in LOTR, but JRD had a latex allergy and I think it caused problems and was an exception to this. All in all as good as the CGI was ... which it was pretty good! ... it wasn't realistic enough .. I could tell in most cases it was essentially a cartoon with motion caption.

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.


Aug 19 2013, 3:47am

Post #28 of 37 (252 views)
Totally agree! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a hard time understanding the hate for Azog. He is top notch in my book. And I imagine his cgi will only get better from film to film considering the time restraints they had on his first outing.


Aug 19 2013, 5:42am

Post #29 of 37 (258 views)
Is there a strong effect of day and night? [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's a technical question I've wondered about. When I first saw TTT, I noticed that Gollum made his initial appearance at night when Frodo and Sam were asleep. At that point I wasn't extremely impressed with the CGI. Once they switched to the daylight, however, and had Gollum on a rope, the CGI was breathtaking-- in fact I remember people in the theater gasping in astonishment because it really looked like they were seeing a living character from out of fantasy. In the daylight we'll have all the sunlight reflections that help create a realistic 3-dimensional image, but at night things seem more 2-dimensional. The wargs in TTT were obviously more primitive than those in AUJ, and they looked more like hyenas, but the overall impression was that the CGI wasn't that much better than 10 years earlier. Again, though, in AUJ we only saw the wargs at night. Did other people notice this, or experience the same phenomenon? It could also explain why some people had problems with Azog's CGI.

Don't mess with my favorite female elf.


Aug 19 2013, 6:38am

Post #30 of 37 (249 views)
Gollum [In reply to] Can't Post

A lot more work went into him than the other CGI as he had more screen time and more close ups

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.


Aug 19 2013, 7:47am

Post #31 of 37 (260 views)
Yes, of course, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

...the question I raised was whether a CGI character looks better in the daylight than at night. This occurred to me because of my impression that in the daylight Gollum looked much more realistic than he did when he first appeared in a night shot. Here is a comparison:

Gollum at night

Gollum in the daylight

It seems that AUJ attempted to solve this problem by using light reflected off the water in the cavern:

Gollum in the dark in AUJ


Don't mess with my favorite female elf.


Aug 19 2013, 12:26pm

Post #32 of 37 (236 views)
This comparison perfectly summarises every problem I have with the visuals of AUJ. [In reply to] Can't Post

Smooth, shiny and fake looking surfaces and lighting and colours that don't exist outside of a studio set.


Aug 19 2013, 1:05pm

Post #33 of 37 (228 views)
I think it also has to do with the fact that... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in daylight we see Gollum amid a very real detailed context of rocks and crags, and there's a strong visual coherence between the very real background and Gollum. Also the day lightning in TTT is more realistic than the night lighting which is lightened up and de-contrasted from what an actual night would look like (but still not as bad as AUJ in that regard).


Aug 19 2013, 9:29pm

Post #34 of 37 (199 views)
I thought this for a long time, actually! [In reply to] Can't Post

Mostly concerning Azog and Gollum's appearances. Although your comments on the wargs are also interesting. I had not thought of them, or any other creatures, to give more examples of this. But yes, I completely agree about the effect of day/night. It's that darn blue light that we get for the "blackness of night" (especially in AUJ). I think that because there was so much running/looking around/fighting, the amount of blue "moonlight" was quite high. On Azog's pale skin, this could have given him that "plastic" look that some here (and elsewhere, of course) didn't like. Both the Weathertop scene and Out of the Frying Pan come to mind.

Not to go too into the details, but I find it interesting that in the Weathertop scene, the moon is located behind Azog for the entire scene. Whereas in Out of the Frying Pan, he is facing it (not directly, but with the light coming from the right side of the screen and hitting him on his left side). I find it very interesting how the artists must have went about the process to light Azog according to where the key light, in these cases the moon, was coming from.

Okay, stopping now before I begin a post I'll never finish. Cool


Aug 19 2013, 11:32pm

Post #35 of 37 (176 views)
I actually think that Azog's Weathertop scene is OK... [In reply to] Can't Post

...at least it works for me because there ARE stark black shadows on the ruins, so I can believe it's really strong moonlight. Same goes for the Stone Giants. Up from Goblin Town however there appears the really weird and unnatural combination of orange and blue (where the blue light is coming from in the goblin caverns is never shown, and it doesn't look like moonlight either). And then we get to the Pine sequence where the sky is so bright and blue it could be an alien planet and everything not tinted by that is lit by an orange glow that could've come from a streetlamp (no contrasting shadows, no flicker). I really have no idea what were they thinking there.

There are nice things to be said for the visuals in the movie here and there, but mostly the choices are odd and very frustrating (at least for me) and little of it feels like Middle Earth.

P.S. Actually, the bright blue night/smooth orange light combination first appears in the Troll sequence, where it's just as annoying.

(This post was edited by sharpened_graphite on Aug 19 2013, 11:34pm)


Aug 20 2013, 1:35am

Post #36 of 37 (162 views)
How I think about it all... [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with most of your points. I think I might be a little more accepting of these lighting setups than you are (only going off of your post, of course) when thinking about my satisfaction with the visuals. Sometimes I do find some of the choices to be questionable. But always in the sense that I, in that position, might not have gone for that look. It's not that I don't like it; my aesthetic preferences might not align perfectly with these filmmakers all the time.

Anyway, during Goblin Town, it's actually the orange light which I find the most notable. In there, I don't notice the blue that much (for whatever reason). But the orange seems too encircling and focused. The goblins don't have/want their abode to be full of light, since we know they're not that fond of it. I know there's another thread going on here about orcs and sunlight, so I'll stay away from that here.

I do agree with you on the brightness of the Pine scene. There doesn't really appear to be a focused light source (the moon, obviously) in plain sight. It's hidden behind some clouds. If anything, I would think that there should be more shadows due to the clouds. It's an arguable point, of course, as we don't have the moon in every shot to see if the clouds broke, lol. But going off of my memory, I seem to remember clouds for most of the shots. I leave that to DanielLB for his thoughts on this, as he may or may not have given the clouds/weather a glance in AUJ. WinkSmile

My point is (and I'm not really trying to make a point, rather some good discussion like this, which I love!) that the artists seemed to desire a lot of artificial moonlight to show all of the action and reactions from the characters. And I don't blame them one bit, honestly! That had to be a heck of a scene to shoot. Much of it was in studio, forcing them to create their own light sources. The amount of shots would have been very difficult to do on location, also considering that there are scale doubles moving around the set, which has been designed with them in mind. It's a much more controlled environment. Having the options, I would choose the controlled set, and use it to my advantage, rather than all of the difficulties that that scene would have presented had it been shot on location.

Slightly OT here, but my comment on scale doubles moving around the set got me thinking. Sometimes I don't think PJ gets enough credit for how he and his crew were able to balance the screentime of the Company. Same goes for their ability to balance characters within the frame, avoiding too many dwarves filling up the screen. He's mentioned that thirteen dwarves was one of the reasons he was apprehensive towards filming TH. And I think he's done that exceptionally well. I think this is an aspect of his filmmaking that some either omit or do not consider when analyzing his full work.

In one sense, directing is simply that: directing the actors. I see a lot of criticisms about how the entire production was handled by PJ, or what PJ and Co. did to the story, or VFX, or lighting, and other things. (In no way am I trying to say that any of these criticisms are unjustified, wrong, or misguided.) But with the actual direction of the players on the screen, I think he's been very successful. The dwarves all have a presence on the screen, whether some like him (Balin) or some detest his existence (Ori). Their movements and interactions seem fluid, without any excessive force, lack of balance, or uncertainty.

Ok, I'll stop myself before I go into Stanislavski territory. Cool Sorry for going OT, but it was a needed tangent.


Aug 20 2013, 10:27pm

Post #37 of 37 (151 views)
AUJ in general is a good movie, and that's what makes those missteps... [In reply to] Can't Post

so frustrating for me. There are parts of it that I genuinely love (mostly to do with the actors' performance) and things I tried very hard to love but couldn't (mostly visual).

Part of why I find these things jarring is precisely because a lot of work and care were put into them by people who are the best at what they do, and I still can't agree with their vision.

Radagast's House, Bag End and to a degree Dale and Dol Guldur (again, weird lighting aside) are all great in my opinion. So are all the scenes on outdoor locations (though the landscape of the Warg chase doesn't quite look like Middle Earth to me either).

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