Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Computer Versus Practical Effects

John Carpenter's THE THING (1982):

















The Thing (2011):





9 comments:

Jay's Shadow said...

Yeah, you just can't beat practical effects. Now I can't just watch a movie, new or old, and not analyze the creature effects.
I was just watching Evil Dead 2 last night, and I was enjoying the 1980's makeup and props.

Rot said...

We watched THE THING Prequel last night a second time and it was even worse than I remembered.

The effects were actually funny.

Joel said...

The saddest part is that Amalgamated Dynamics built some fantastic practical stuff for the prequel, but the majority of it was cut from the movie.

The year it came out, I was working Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. They had a Thing 2011 haunted house featuring practical effects, bodysuits, and prosthetics versions of all the creatures. A local company called Blue Whale Studios did an awesome job replicating the designs from the movie, and I always felt that haunted house was a better tribute to the original film than the actual prequel.

Sara said...

Practical effects make the whole thing more real to me. Digital seems so, so fake. Well, I mean it is!

Rot said...

I heard that as well and saw some of the test footage, so it's horrible a decision was made to cut that stuff and go with over-the-top CG.
Just because something CAN be done, doesn't mean it SHOULD be done.

But Hollywood thinks we need to see fast-moving creatures with thousands of tendrils running around with fake CG fire on them.

And that goes for almost all the big movies these days...they all practically end with a huge fireball-laden CG battle with a million effects shots.

I miss old Hollywood. But it's gone forever.

Shotgun_Mario said...

I adore practical effects, and it's too bad that they are no longer used...


I must say though, knowing 3d animation, that they could have easily fixed a large part of their monsters if they'd have only bumped up the specular passes in composite of the monsters.

In normal words, if you compare the practical vs. digital effects between the two, the major missing feature in the digital is the wet look, which is usually what is always missing in 3d effects. Suffice to say, without it, the 3d effects look mushy and without full light range, feeling out of place in the environment.

Getting lights placed correctly in the 3d environment to match the footage is difficult, and is usually half-assed, which I suspect is part of the problem here, plus a director who demanded too much control and didn't let the artists fix the look correctly in post.

If they'd have only made the specular whites harsher, it would have fixed a majority of their bad look. (but still, you can't polish a turd)

Joel said...

Good points Shotgun Mario. CG can be very effective and beautiful when done well.

I feel that what was also missing from the creature designs themselves were the layers of organic complexity. The scene in the original where the dog-blob breaks open and sends a circular maw spinning toward Macready - I still always have to rewind and watch it a couple times because of the sheer chaotic structure of that effects shot. Like, five different gross things happen in the span of as many seconds. Those effects were so delightfully crafted to depict erratic mutations, which really lent itself to the medium of physical handmade effects.

The 2011 "things" seemed more like melted zombies, reminding me more of video game monsters than the chaotic, evolutionary offshoots of the original.

TheMatriculat said...

I think that John Carpenter's The Thing is probably one of the greatest horror or sci-fi horror movies ever. The feeling of isolation, Ennio Moriconne Soundtrack, the who-dunnit edge to it. Even if they had used practical effects in the prequel it still would not have done justice to the Carpenter version. I miss John Carpenter. some of his films are the epitome of horror. Not the super gory remakes and the supernatural crap we get today. I think the horror genre has suffered the most from Hollywood trends. Especially the effects area. What happened to not seeing whatever evil force is behind everything. Movies like The Fog lend so much to the idea of atmosphere. How can we forget John Carpenters music. The most iconic of which is still creepy everytime I hear it no matter how commercial it is. I read that somewhere there is footage that Carpenter shot that showed McReady being rescued and given a blood test and he was human. Would love to see that! "First Goddamn week of winter"

girl6 said...

old Hollywood may be napping for a bit now, but it'll Surely be back &
with a new surge of Love too!!!