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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
CGI and Color Grading

Registered User

Jul 29 2014, 11:40pm

Post #1 of 22 (892 views)
CGI and Color Grading Can't Post

Was rewatching AUJ and DOS as well as all the trailers and they seem to have this bright overlit sheen. Makes it look quite plasticy and fake.

Doesn't seem to have changed much with this trailer and there's some obvious poor CGI scenes.

Those that stick out for me:

* The shot of Smaug breathing fire, there's something off about the color and the way the fire erupts/expands.
* All the battle scenes are so bright and light is coming from everywhere.
* The chariot scene was shockingly bad

Besides the poor use of music and lack of distinct musical themes....the most dissapointing aspect of this Trilogy so far has been its CGI and Color Grading.

They do characters extremely well (i.e. Smaug and Gollum) though I still can't believe that 10 years on from LOTR that many comparative shots (i.e. battles, studio shots) actually look worse and more obvious than before.

Puzzles me deeply.

(This post was edited by skylynx on Jul 29 2014, 11:42pm)


Jul 29 2014, 11:48pm

Post #2 of 22 (532 views)
I was actually relatively pleased with the overall look and tone of the recent trailer. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes the chariot scene needs work. So does the Smaug scene, but it's more the way the fire expands than the actual quality of the cgi. Other than that I was liking what I saw.

How many Tolkien fans does it take to change a light bulb?

"Change? Oh my god, what do you mean change?! Never, never, never......"


Jul 30 2014, 12:10am

Post #3 of 22 (503 views)
I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always thought with the first two films that there was something 'off' about the colour and lighting, but can't quite put my finger on it. This has followed on with this trailer.

The lighting just doesn't seem natural to me.

Here is an example from the trailer that really struck me as not looking right. The background shows what looks to be a sunset to Bard's right, yet his face is very well lit on the opposing side. Just doesn't sit right.

(Oversized image removed - Ataahua.)

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Jul 30 2014, 1:06am)


Jul 30 2014, 12:13am

Post #4 of 22 (508 views)
I find it interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

That people complain about cgi when you are still here nonetheless watching, waiting, and anticipating like those of us who love these films.Wink

It is the little things in life that keep the darkness at bay.


Jul 30 2014, 12:18am

Post #5 of 22 (502 views)
Are you not aware [In reply to] Can't Post

that the CGI shots in the trailer are not yet fully completed?

Not all those who wander are Lost

Darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

(This post was edited by JamesPaganini on Jul 30 2014, 12:19am)

Grey Havens

Jul 30 2014, 12:21am

Post #6 of 22 (508 views)
The Hobbit: Attack of the CG Sunsets [In reply to] Can't Post

I enjoy the overall look of these films for the most part, but the overuse of CG sunsets/sunrises gets on my nerves. Sometimes it looks fine, but sometimes it just looks unnatural and distracting.

(This post was edited by Mooseboy018 on Jul 30 2014, 12:22am)


Jul 30 2014, 12:26am

Post #7 of 22 (474 views)
A good point, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
that the CGI shots in the trailer are not yet fully completed?

...that doesn't explain the same lighting/colour issues in the full release of AUJ and Desolation.

And I think it's perfectly acceptable for people, fans of Tolkien's works (and Peter Jackson's) to question something we see in something we are so looking forward to. No?


Jul 30 2014, 12:37am

Post #8 of 22 (458 views)
Well I'm aware [In reply to] Can't Post

that Peter Jackson and co. stated that the reason the Hobbit looks so much lighter is because they want to convey the whimsical more light-hearted nature of the Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings has that darker/grittier look but in An Unexpected Journey everything is more colourful and brighter because the end of the world is not yet near and it is a more light-hearted/children's tale.

Not all those who wander are Lost

Darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.


Jul 30 2014, 1:11am

Post #9 of 22 (447 views)
It is perfectly possible... [In reply to] Can't Post

... to dislike portions/elements of the films (such as the CGI), and still love (and look forward to) them. It doesn't have to be a binary choice between "I love everything about this" and "I hate everything about this", with no room for variance inbetween; In fact, I think this place would be much less interesting if it really was like that.

(This post was edited by Macfeast on Jul 30 2014, 1:16am)


Jul 30 2014, 1:16am

Post #10 of 22 (421 views)
Indeed. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
... that "I don't like the CGI" was a distinct position that excluded one from loving (and looking forward to) these films. Really, does it have to be a binary choice between "I love everything about this" and "I hate everything about this", with no room for variance inbetween?

It does seem that if you even slightly critisize something about these films you're instantly jumped upon as a 'hater' who has no right to be here.

Very odd.


Jul 30 2014, 3:32am

Post #11 of 22 (384 views)
In my mind it's pretty straightfoward. [In reply to] Can't Post

These movies were made differently than the original trilogy. First off, entire short sequences are 100% CGI. The CG work in these films is undeniably stunning, but IMO we're not yet able to conjure utterly convincing environments (of a certain type). Then sometimes it's weird, impossible cinematography in sweeping shots like the ram stampede that seem off to me; this is a personal preference though, that CG cinematography operates under the same principals as real camerawork. But I don't blame any director for going a bit nutty. The thing I really don't understand is the compositing in these films is often bizarro. I'm not sure if this is the result of Jackson and his company biting off more than they could chew with the super resolution, 48fps technology plus the sheer number of greenscreen environments, or what. Or maybe all of the things we're noticing are simply stylistic choices that may not fit our particular preferences? Is it possible that Jackson does not want things to look totally realistic?


Jul 30 2014, 3:43am

Post #12 of 22 (365 views)
Hmm I would like to agree but [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's okay to complain about CGI in the movies themselves. But it's rather silly to complain about the CGI in the trailers when there have been posts from PJ himself detailing how hard it is to get a trailer out to people.

It's a GIVEN that the CGI in trailers will be sub-par. These complaints are getting rather repetitious in their third year of recycling perhaps?

Anyone can complain about anything as long as it is an informed complaint with legitimate merit.

"[Annatar598] is an overzealous apologist [for PJ]" - Certain TORn member.

Really? Alright...

Well, proud to be one I guess.


Jul 30 2014, 7:19am

Post #13 of 22 (290 views)
Hm. [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, we cannot really judge the CGI in the trailer... re-watch the first DoS trailer to see how much it improved.

But you also comment on the CGI in the two completed movies which is a whole different matter.

I wonder though if it is really the CGI that is off for those disliking it.

I rather have the feeling it is the artistic choice and, as you say, the choice of color-grading one either likes or dislikes.

I like it very much, especially the difference it gives compared to Rings. But I know that many find it absolutely mind-boggling why anyone would move from the realism of LotR to this.

I find it a very acceptable and in some parts brave decision to do and try it. It seems to be in-line with the vision of PJ and Co for this trilogy. I think I agree with Bishop... I believe that most or almost all scenes look like PJ wants them to look... I do not think it is Weta not being able to cope with all the material. It is more of an artistic than a technical question, imho.

More controversial than it could have been? Maybe. But imho a breeze of fresh air.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at." J.R.R. Tolkien

We all have our hearts and minds one way or another invested in these books and movies. So we all mind and should show the necessary respect.

(This post was edited by Arannir on Jul 30 2014, 7:21am)


Jul 30 2014, 8:33am

Post #14 of 22 (278 views)
I am profoundly grateful.... [In reply to] Can't Post

.. for my complete inability to see all this 'poor CGI' which upsets people so much.

I just see beautiful pictures and get lost in the story - aren't I lucky! Wink

The Shire

Jul 30 2014, 8:43am

Post #15 of 22 (260 views)
Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

The only poor CG in the Hobbit trilogy so far has been the Rabbit chase scene, as far as I'm concerned. And that had exactly the same issues as the stampede in King Kong: Not so much "bad CG", rather a case of "mismatched compositing".
Other than that the CG in the Hobbit trilogy has been superb.
And I really like the hazy "fairytale" look the world has. There's a glowing quality to this magical world, which has been lost by the time of LOTR.


Jul 30 2014, 8:49am

Post #16 of 22 (280 views)
I was EXTREMELY impressed with the CGI in the teaser... [In reply to] Can't Post

Being an early teaser we should expect not all the footage will necessarily be completely final with regard CG and colour grading, but I already thought it could be straight out of the film. Certainly better than any of he LOTR were in this respect and as good or better than any in the film (the orc army I was particularly impressed with). It's all too easy as a base criticism to say of effects heavy films 'the cgi was obvious' but even in HD the effects stood up among any I've seen. I remember seeing the ROTK trailer in the cinema and thinking, sure it's an amazing trailer, but some scenes (notably the reveal of Theoden's army at the Pelennor Fields) just looked a little unfinished.

We seem to take for granted CGI to such an extent that until you watch all the EE features you don't really appreciate how incredible things are these days. The ONLY shots I thought needed slight work was Smaug flaming Laketown. Smaug didn't quite seem to fit in the environment perfectly. Then the chariot 'bump' with sarks flying look slightly off. But only slightly. To say it's shockingly bad is frankly ridiculous.


Jul 30 2014, 8:51am

Post #17 of 22 (263 views)
As mentioned by PJ and PB they wanted a slightly more innocent, colourful, 'pre-darkness' look to The Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post



Jul 30 2014, 8:57am

Post #18 of 22 (247 views)
Personally I like the change in the colour/tonne, I think it's personal preference [In reply to] Can't Post

Let's be clear here, this is most definitely NOT an issue with the technical expertise of WETA and co. The work they have done it all areas of SFX through the 5 films so far is exceptional ad up with any effects house. Especially given the scale of the films. I would challenge anyone to give comparative references to other similar scale films where thy felt the cgi was better and 'less obvious'.

A lot of it comes down to personal preferences and creative choices of PJ and co. I lke the slightly more 'fantastical look of the hobbit, before the darkness starting creeping into the world of LOTR. It' rightly a little more fun and frivolous. As ever I prefer as much live action and physical set as possible, but often in such films it's really not practical. At least he hasn't gone all George Lucas on us! If ever you want to look at poor and overused CGI, look no further than the SW prequels!


Jul 30 2014, 9:02am

Post #19 of 22 (246 views)
Agreed in part [In reply to] Can't Post

I wouldn't say 'bitten off more than they could chew' but certainly the amount of CGI shots and scale of them is astounding in these, even compared to LOTR. I think filmmakers like PJ are always trying to push things as far they can go, and sometimes maybe they go a tocuh too far. But in general, it's only odd moments for me. Without such pushing for bigger/better/more we would still be on a much slower evolution of cgi technology though.

I think it is only small moments though and doesn't really detract form the sheer brilliance of the majority. We are that use to CGI and knowing it's use (simply from a 'whats possible in reality' knowledge) that of course we are aware of things being CGI. That doesn't stop them being stunning though. As most regular film-goers and i'm sure they are completely immersed.

I know my parents are utterly astounded at what can be done in films these and it seems only us, with our HD screens and over-analysing every little detail that we really are being over critical.

The Shire

Jul 30 2014, 9:07am

Post #20 of 22 (241 views)
While I agree with you abou the Hobbit... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I must also step up and defend the SW prequels.
Episode I was just a couple of years too early, and really does have bad CG, especially if you look at the film today.
But Episodes II and III, especially the latter have pretty much flawless CG.
Also, if you look at the making of parts of the SW box you will see that the entire prequel trilogy actually made great use of sets, animatronics and miniatures as well.
Give George Lucas all the flak for his writing that he deserves, but all the moaning about the quality or amount of CG in the prequel trilogy really is unjustified.


Jul 30 2014, 9:09am

Post #21 of 22 (259 views)
Explaining [In reply to] Can't Post

The CGI has advanced so far that rather than just using it for digital creatures (which are much improved over LOTR) and very wide shots for digital extras, CGI is used to create whole environments and digital doubles close up. Unfortunately it's very hard to look completely real, but with shots like the chariot they work fine when you see the shot briefly (it's more when you look back over shots when you notice the problems).

As for the grading, that was a clear decision to make these films more whimsical and less dark than LOTR (although the grading gets darker throughout the trilogy).

And with the music, there's actually many be new distinct themes (I think there's over 30). So whether you like the music or not you can't deny the existence of these new themes.


Jul 30 2014, 3:05pm

Post #22 of 22 (187 views)
100% agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

And it appears we're going to have more of them in this final film. Grrrr... Crazy


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