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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Wow - An animatronic Smaug??
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JRandomRohirrim
Rohan


Apr 25 2008, 2:13pm

Post #1 of 28 (679 views)
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Wow - An animatronic Smaug?? Can't Post

Here's an interesting point from the TORN interview with GDT:

"The only thing I will be pushing for more in these films that the other three are full animatronics and animatronic creatures enhanced with CGI, as opposed to CGI creatures themselves. We really want to take the state-of-the-art animatronics and take a leap ten years into the future with the technology we will develop for the creatures in the movie. We have every intention to do for animatronics and special effects what the other films did for virtual reality."

Could you see an animatronic Smaug for the cave scenes?? I can! Might be a big much to expect a animatronic, flying Smaug, but what the heck!


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Windfola
The Shire


Apr 25 2008, 2:50pm

Post #2 of 28 (316 views)
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I'm not really convinced [In reply to] Can't Post

 this is the right route, I have to see James Cameron's Avatar first. Maybe they won't need animatronics for creature effects at all after this film is made. I have a feeling CGI will become ultra believable without the need of animatronics to enhance it. If not, then this is they way to go.


Nazguy
Bree


Apr 25 2008, 5:07pm

Post #3 of 28 (260 views)
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Hmm [In reply to] Can't Post

Am I the only one to wince just a little when hearing the word 'animatronic'? I suppose I can see the temptation to put something 'real' onto the set. One of the good things about the old Star Wars films is that you know the spaceships are real physical objects and not animated pictures.

My aversion to animatronics is probably based on dodgy films from the 1980s. Imagine what they'd be able to do nowadays, what with the advances in technology.

Departed from the old TORN a few years ago...

Well, I'm back. And still trying to get used to the new look :)


SureCavanaugh
The Shire


Apr 25 2008, 5:14pm

Post #4 of 28 (271 views)
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Jurassic Park anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Even back in 1993 the animatronic dinos looked good.... imagine them with modern CGI.


KateTheHobbit
Bree


Apr 25 2008, 5:22pm

Post #5 of 28 (238 views)
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Mixed emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know how to feel about this. Like someone before me said, I just kinda wince when I hear "animatronic". So many animatronics look so... cheesy. I think I'd feel much better if Smaug was in the very capable realm of CGI.

HOWEVER, as someone else said, look at the animatronics in Jurassic Park. I just watched that again a few nights ago, and was thinking about how stunning the T-Rex and Raptors looked. Whereas the dinosaurs in JP3 looked pretty terrible, and they were all (or mostly, I think) CGI.

So I have no idea what to think or feel. I think I'd feel much better if Smaug was being done CGI. But then again, there really have been some truly awesome animatronics. AH, curse my conflicting thoughts!Crazy


JRandomRohirrim
Rohan


Apr 25 2008, 5:47pm

Post #6 of 28 (251 views)
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Um, I'm about 98% sure that Jurassic Park was all CGI [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember Spielberg saying how wonderful he thought it went.

Bad CGI can be found as recently Gladiator. Oh those tigers!


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SureCavanaugh
The Shire


Apr 25 2008, 5:51pm

Post #7 of 28 (265 views)
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Actually, the original was most animatronics [In reply to] Can't Post

Spielberg hired Stan Winston to create the animatronic dinosaurs whose T-rex animatronic stood 20 feet (6.1 m), weighed 13,000 pounds, and was 40 feet (12 m) long. Jack Horner called it "the closest I've ever been to a live dinosaur".

Alex Billington declared it as a film that was ahead of its time, saying that on another level, "Even using the animatronics system that they did, this was a far step ahead of anything at the time. Then the stories surrounding how horrifically real the dinosaurs were fueled its popularity even more. And the best part is that they look better in this movie than any more recent CGI creations."


KateTheHobbit
Bree


Apr 25 2008, 5:51pm

Post #8 of 28 (232 views)
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Not *all*, I don't think [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I remember Spielberg saying how wonderful he thought it went.

Bad CGI can be found as recently Gladiator. Oh those tigers!



I know that they used extensive CGI for the day, but I'm pretty sure there were still quite a few animatronics. There were Raptor animatronics for the kitchen scene, and the triceratops (sp?) that I know of for sure. And as SureCavanaugh said, there was a full scale T-rex animatronic (which I always thought was awesome. lol).

But you are right; it was one of the first movies to use GOOD CGI, in my opinion.


(This post was edited by KateTheHobbit on Apr 25 2008, 5:52pm)


One Ringer
Tol Eressea


Apr 25 2008, 7:18pm

Post #9 of 28 (223 views)
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Animatronics enhanced with CGI [In reply to] Can't Post

They'll use the animatronics in the way they use Andy with Gollum. They'll shoot the animatronics, and then enhance it with computers to make it look nice and realistic. That's my guess anyways. I'm not worried, if anything, I'm actually happy! Smile

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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Apr 25 2008, 7:20pm

Post #10 of 28 (228 views)
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Peter rocked the world with the innovations [In reply to] Can't Post

created for LotR... and that was nearly 10 years ago. Can you even imagine what GdT and he can accomplish!? This is gonna be SWEET!



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Ecthel
The Shire

Apr 25 2008, 7:32pm

Post #11 of 28 (227 views)
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Alien Queen [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anyone remember the Alien queen in Alien 2? That was animatronics and it was awesome.

Or if anyone watched Farscape, there was plenty of animatronic and puppet characters that were believable.

At the end of the day, CGI will always be CGI, it will always looked slightly off. Gollum was decent in some scenes, and horrible in others. The cave troll in Fellowship was horribly CGI. Anytime you can have some physcial, it will improve the quality of the realism.

Good for Del Toro


KateTheHobbit
Bree


Apr 25 2008, 8:19pm

Post #12 of 28 (196 views)
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pessimistic nature [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
They'll use the animatronics in the way they use Andy with Gollum. They'll shoot the animatronics, and then enhance it with computers to make it look nice and realistic. That's my guess anyways. I'm not worried, if anything, I'm actually happy! Smile



That is very true and a very good point. And as Ecthel said, it *is* always helpful to have something real and physical there. So I think I'll stop worrying overmuch about it..... but my pessimistic nature usually prevents that.Laugh


Nazgurl
Registered User

Apr 25 2008, 9:51pm

Post #13 of 28 (174 views)
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Given the money they'll spend on this.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Initially I was a little nervous when I read the bit about animatronics, but with all of the money they're going to spend on these films, and with Peter at the helm, I've no doubt that they will do Smaug proud. (not to mention it will be good practice for Temeraire, when/if Peter ever gets that project off the ground!)Smile

Man - it's been so long since I've been here my old account didn't work and I had to create a new one!Cool Looking foward to going down this road again with the old and the new-timers!


vtboyarc
Lorien


Apr 25 2008, 10:15pm

Post #14 of 28 (190 views)
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no!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was disappointed when I read that about using more animatronics. I mean, sure their cool and fun to work with, but their also REALLY easy to tell that its fake. If digital effects can make things look as real as they do, why not stay with that?

Theres some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and its worth fighting for.


stormcrow20
Gondor


Apr 26 2008, 12:41am

Post #15 of 28 (176 views)
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I'm skeptical [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not so sure animatronics is the right way to go for The Hobbit.

First, I haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth yet, and it's been a while since I've seen Hellboy, so I can't comment on those films.


When it comes to animatronics, somehow my brain picks out patterns of movements from animatronics and puppets, even when well done, and totally removes me from the film. Yoda in Episode I, for instance, is much more distracting to me than CGI Yoda in Episodes II and III.

Didn't they use both animatronics and CGI for Treebeard? The close-ups are good, but a few wide shots of him just looked way too mechanical. Compare him with the Balrog and Oliphaunts. Which has more convincing, realistic movements?

Whatever they used for the Balrog, Oliphaunts, etc. is what should be used in The Hobbit, in my opinion.


Just think how those techniques have improved in the more than ten years that will have passed between these productions.

Sorry to repeat myself from another post, but that's how I feel about it.

~~~~~~
Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, and he welcomed Mithrandir at the Grey Havens, knowing whence he came and whither he would return.
'Take this ring, master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill.'


stormcrow20
Gondor


Apr 26 2008, 12:48am

Post #16 of 28 (169 views)
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Too mechanical [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I watched Aliens a couple weeks ago, and while the close-ups of the Alien Queen were great, and very scary, its movements were very mechanical and distracting to me in the wide shots.

I've also seen a few episodes of Farscape, and I must say, I had to stretch my imagination a bit too far to believe the animatronic/puppet characters.


In Reply To
At the end of the day, CGI will always be CGI, it will always looked slightly off. Gollum was decent in some scenes, and horrible in others. The cave troll in Fellowship was horribly CGI. Anytime you can have some physcial, it will improve the quality of the realism.




In regards to that statement, my opinion is the exact oppsite of yours! Wink

~~~~~~
Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, and he welcomed Mithrandir at the Grey Havens, knowing whence he came and whither he would return.
'Take this ring, master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill.'


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 26 2008, 5:38am

Post #17 of 28 (159 views)
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The Alien queen was masterfully done, [In reply to] Can't Post

helped in no small part by the sound effects and music.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Nazguy
Bree


Apr 26 2008, 9:12am

Post #18 of 28 (154 views)
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In defence of the cave troll [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought it looked pretty awesome!



JRandomRohirrim
Rohan


Apr 26 2008, 3:04pm

Post #19 of 28 (122 views)
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Definitely Not All [In reply to] Can't Post

My husband knows a lot more about Jurassic Park than I do. He said animatronics were used for close-up shots (raptors inside the building and the like) and CGI was used for "crowd scenes." So JP used a combination of effects to create the dinos, and I expect del Toro will use a combination as well.


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Sunflower
Valinor

Apr 27 2008, 3:03am

Post #20 of 28 (112 views)
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Whoa? [In reply to] Can't Post

The raptors in the kitchen were animatronic? I didn't know that...I was wondering how they got to look so real.

But then, I didn't buy the JP DVD b/c my favorite feature on a DVD is director's commentary and Spielberg does not do commenataries. (sad, but I can see why.)


Sunflower
Valinor

Apr 27 2008, 3:06am

Post #21 of 28 (111 views)
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LOVE yr avatar BTW! [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think of the court case going on with Jo Rowling right now? (Not to get too OT here)

I remember how surprised to learn that that place on the cover was just....The GREAT HALL!


Elenedhel
Rivendell


Apr 27 2008, 3:59am

Post #22 of 28 (108 views)
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animatronic smaug? [In reply to] Can't Post

hmmm... I had mixed feelings when i heard that Guillermo Del Toro was contemplating animatronics for The Hobbit. Some of the old films with animatronics are so cheesy. But then again, the Treebeard in LotR was fantastic. I think under the supervision of Weta it could work.


palantiriel
The Shire


Apr 27 2008, 1:02pm

Post #23 of 28 (94 views)
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Treebeard... [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, I was going to metion Treebeard too. Using CGI to enhance animatronics could be great. The LOTR films were so revolutionary technology-wise that I have complete faith in whatever The Hobbit will do too.

When I first hEard that LOTR would use plenty of CGI I had a nightmare that it would be a live action/animation mix, like Mary Poppins, with cartoon Gollum scampering about next to the real actors!


Unspoken_Request
Bree

Apr 27 2008, 2:13pm

Post #24 of 28 (95 views)
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Imho Smaug has to be 10 times bigger than the TRex [In reply to] Can't Post

Or 10 times bigger than the Balrog. At the very least.
He has to be gigantic. That is how I imagine Smaug. In my mind, in terms of size, a large mountain is to Smaug, what a little house is to a human.

Remember dwarrowdelf in Moria? He's got to "fill" most of this huge hall all by himself

I don't see how this is possible with animatronics. The head and facial expressions maybe, but not the rest.


Merenwen
The Shire

Apr 27 2008, 2:27pm

Post #25 of 28 (93 views)
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Remember [In reply to] Can't Post

The Great Hall would probably be computer generated anyway so it probably wouldn't be hard to make a 3 metre high animatronic Smaug look huge in it. I don't really have an opinion on whether it would be better to just use a CGI dragon or a mix of that and animatronics. I guess, it would make sense to have a "real" dragon there when it's mainly staying in one place and Bilbo is talking to it.

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