Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day Returns!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the return of the Behind the Scenes Pic of the day! How’s your 2012 going so far? Great? Good! Hope the hangover pills are in plentiful supply!

Apologies again about the disappearance of the column. I became overwhelmed while doing my Hobbit embed and despite keeping the BTS pic column up for the first month and a half the gypsy lifestyle combined with the unrelenting pace of the production just got the better of me!

But I’ve returned home, there and back again (albeit without a ring of power), and now don’t have any good excuses, so let’s pick things back up, shall we?

I figured it’d be fitting to return to the column with the title that kicked it off in the first place! With the Prometheus trailer getting everybody (myself included) jonesing for Sir Ridley’s return the world of Alien it seems apt that we give some love to that derelict spaceship as it was originally built! Scale is everything as shown by today’s picture.

Thanks to reader Simon Landry for sending this image along. Click for a slightly bigger version.



If you have a behind the scenes shot you’d like to submit to this column, you can email me at

Tomorrow’s behind the scenes pic is gonna make it a Lean night!

-Eric Vespe
Follow Me On Twitter


Click here to visit the complete compilation of previous Behind the Scenes images, Page One

Click here to visit the complete compilation of previous Behind the Scenes images, Page Two

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Thank You, Herr Giger

    by Abdul_Alhazred

    That ship design just goddamn rules. That's some serious miniature I have to watch that goddamn movie again. I got a twizzle in my daddyparts when I saw it in the Prometheus trailer as well.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:04 p.m. CST

    As fresh as the day it was released

    by alan_poon

    When you think of how other sci fi films have dated badly, Alien looks like it could be close to what the future of mankind will be like and that space travel, far from being a wondrous thing will be just as mundane as travelling on a bus.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by Aloy

    Welcome back and well chosen.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:07 p.m. CST

    Love it.

    by justmyluck

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Great to see the BTS pic back

    by lochkray

    I know you said it would be returning, I was still thinking it wouldn't. Anyway, that's a great one. I HOPE Prometheus isn't another Phantom Menace disappointment. I've learned that I don't really care for prequels that explain things. The mystery is usually ten times more interesting than the explanation. Looking at that pic reminds me of how exciting and tense it was when the Nostromo crew went inside the derelict. I have faith in Ridley, but even watching the trailer makes me worried that they'll explain everything, and I will go, "meh."

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:19 p.m. CST

    So does anyone know whatever became of this model?

    by obijuanmartinez

    Museum, auction, other? Can't imagine how amazing it'd have been to just sit on this set after the day's shooting was done back in 78'...

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:26 p.m. CST

    Arnold Schwarzenegger claymation

    by crazy4dragons13

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:29 p.m. CST

    im a cynical ass sometimes

    by tomdolan04

    But i dearly want this to be good and believe in it. Its just I hope they really do capture the unremarkable, natural feel of the actors and characters harnessed in Alien. It grounded the sci-fi element so fantastically well. <p> No people playing hero. Only the briefest implication that Ripley had an onboard romance. Its been said many times but it was just truckers in space and i swear its timeless for it.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Obviously Promethesus

    by tomdolan04

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:41 p.m. CST

    CGI made NOBODY lazy!!!

    by gamerawangi

    Kee-Rist I'm sick of the anti-computer graphics blathering here at AICN! Yes, you're right. With CGI, all people have to do is hit the "make it cool looking" button, and poof!: There it is, all done and ready for you to plop down your $$ to see. Oh, you might have heard rumors. You know, like how those guys are given production drawings (at best) and told to make a model of it on the computer. Yeah, so much easier than clay or plaster or cardboard or whatever. Texture artists told to make skins look believable and yet, other-worldly at the same time? Right there with the Tooth Fairy. And hey, let's not forget those weird-ass stories of how people have to use all manner of controls on a computer to match the lighting between each element created for a shot. Nothing like that EVER happened in the days of practical effects. NEVER. FACT! Yeah, those CGI bastards just sit around on their butts all days, pushing the same "make it cool" button, and reading books on how to destroy science fiction and fantasy films through the use of CGI. And how to hunt down the last of the Practical Effects people. And tight deadlines? NEVER ever in a CGI world. Work can be done in months in advance (see "make it cool" button) while the CGI "artist" goes to Hawaii. GOD, what a plague CG is on the film world. Nobody could tell when practical effects were done in the good old days. DAMN YOU CG!!!!! ................................. yeesh

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:42 p.m. CST

    "Returns" is so 2010...

    by -Halfscan-

    change title to "Rises" and get with the times >.>

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 6:54 p.m. CST

    good now this can be the top talkback!


    because the prometheus one was the largest participating talkback before it went off the front page....says a lot about tastes here :)

  • All Scott had to do was create something special and give the creature the quality it deserves ... It will be good but will disappoint too many to be held in high regard and stand the test of time like Alien has. Even if its better than good we will just crave what it didn't give us ...

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:03 p.m. CST


    by lochkray

    Relax. People do hate on CGI a little too much, but some of it is warrented. A lot of the CGI hate comes from a decision at a production level to use computers to make effects that used to be done practically, and it simply doesn't look as good. When done properly, it can be seemless. When it isn't, the images becomes weightless. Also, an overuse of CGI can make the movie suddenly feel like a cartoon, and you are pulled right out of the movie. For some reason, practical effects never seemed to have that same affect when viewing. Sure you had the that-was-so-fake moments, but for some reason they would still be effective (best example: the shark from Jaws, compared to the sharks from...well, any shark movie in the last fifteen years). Nobody is saying that the computer artists don't work hard. It is just that if you are going for an effect that could be done with old school practical models, explosions, or what-have-you, it has to look better when done with the computer. Not worse.

  • I was just grousing about blu-ray prices, then I saw this on the Amazon UK site for £14.99. Surely that's got to be worth a punt.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:03 p.m. CST

    Christ, that dude is bigger than the Jockey's ship!!

    by Al

    Attack of the giant light-reader!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:14 p.m. CST

    Why is the landscape 'Giger-fied'

    by Rtobert

    LV426 was just a normal planet, the ship was not from there, so why have the rocks been given the Giger treatment? Have the xenomorphs already done their own terraforming?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:18 p.m. CST


    by KilliK

    now that's what i am talking about.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:28 p.m. CST

    Obi Juan - The original ship prop's fate..

    by Autodidact

    The ship was stored outside with nothing to protect it but a flimsy tarp for 20 years. The producers of Prometheus reacquired the model and restored it over many months. Terrific post about it on Metafilter (including links to video of the restoration):

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:33 p.m. CST

    Great pic / and as for CG...

    by bubcus

    I only gripe about CG in certain places. I thought it was perfect in Jurassic Park. I thought it was subpar and horrible in many places in the Special Editions of the Star Wars trilogy (1995). Creep factor was achieved in Polar Express. But in TinTin, they got the mouths right and it worked. Tron Legacy's Clu's mouth kept making a triangular shape that was distracting. Indiana Jones 4's monkeys and gophers looked bad. The CG alien in Species looked bad and fake. The CG work in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was acceptable and very good in most spots. Peter Jackson's King Kong looked great... the falling dinosaurs not so much. It varies. But ultimately, I think we all appreciate the gritty ships of Star Wars and Alien and when we see CG replacements that look too polished, it gets annoying.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Someone clear this up for me about "Alien"

    by diseptikon

    What exactly was Ash going to do with the rolled up magazine? Was he going to regurgitate something into Ripley? Ive always wondered was it another alien embryo...

  • I mean the magazine, you pervs! Insert magazine into her mouth, shove it down her throat until it blocks her breathing, wait for her to stop flailing and remove magazine. Voila! Dead Ripley! And no one will ever suspect a magazine. Now someone tell ME why the hell did Ash do that running in place bit?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:06 p.m. CST

    diseptikon...No. He was gonna give her a spanky.

    by Cheif Brody

    Great pic, Quint!! Welcome back!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:09 p.m. CST

    Nostromo restoration

    by Baragon

    watching it now on yt. amazing that this prop sat, exposed to the elements for around 30 years. I remember reading Starlog and Cinefex and seeing the giant miniatures of the Nostromo, escape shuttle and the massive refinery. Cool stuff then and now.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:12 p.m. CST

    wow, what timing on my part!

    by Saltboy

    true story - last night was the first time ever for me to see Alien all the way through from start to finish. I soiled my underwear several times. arguably the scariest movie i've seen, and it holds up *really really* well for a 30+ year-old movie. I'm totally excited for Prometheus now and hope it provides at least a few clues as to where this other ship (and its unfortunate pilot) came from... Bravo to all who was involved with this production.

  • lol @ marine bug hunt.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:19 p.m. CST


    by white_vader

    There was no terraforming until ALIENS (or the space inbetween the films while Ripley was floating), right? You're looking at it from a post ALIENS pov. And taken on its own as we would have at the time, we don't know anything about the planet in the first film really. Besides, you ever hear of overall ambience? Tone? Creepiness? Emotional logic being more important than literal logic in films?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:20 p.m. CST

    thank you gamerawangi

    by robamenta

    i was just gonna comment on thr cgi backlash...then i read your note...perfect to all the guys on here that think that doing cgi is easy..why dont you try your hand at it...takes years of learning, and dedication...and more patience than youll ever know

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:21 p.m. CST

    diseptikon and "cheif" brody

    by white_vader

    The magazine WAS a porno mag, so that adds another level to it in terms of Ash's "humanity".

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:22 p.m. CST

    Good To Have These Back!

    by SeanFlanagan

    My life has been missing a little something lately...

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:23 p.m. CST

    A lot of times prblems with CGI shots are simply

    by ufoclub1977

    the use of the virtual camera with impossible geometric perfectly framed camera moves. Something like the War of the Worlds remake or even Avatar actually mimic the use of real cameras quite nicely.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:35 p.m. CST

    lochkray - no, generally apples and oranges

    by white_vader

    CGI can make the movie suddenly feel like a cartoon, and you are pulled right out of the movie. For some reason, practical effects never seemed to have that same affect when viewing

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:37 p.m. CST


    by white_vader

    Go away you simplistic text-speaking troll. There's really not room in your brain for the possibility all 3 are/can be great?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Tangcameo ...And no one will ever suspect a magazine.

    by Nerfee

    Magazines! You can't watch'em. That 'Horse & Hound' is bloody lethal, it really is...

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:40 p.m. CST


    by white_vader

    That link was about the Nostromo, not the derelict.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:40 p.m. CST


    by diseptikon

    But it looked like he was getting ready to puke something up and got interrupted by Parker before the titty twister of doom?

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:41 p.m. CST

    No.. CGI ISN'T EASY... but it IS a crutch...

    by LargoJr

    ... that has replaced plot, characters that develop & you can identify with, the believability of a moment on screen that can only be achieved thru practical effects.. and ANY sense of urgency or peril that might drive you to feel or root for the characters involved. CGI also has the tendency to ignore anything not immediately relevant to the plot as it is occurring Perfect example, look at the equipment Sam is wearing in his Navi body when getting chased by the big beastie thru the forest when getting separated from his squad. His backpack has ZERO physics as he is running & jumping around until the plot needs it, at which point it gets torn away. Until then, its like a giant tattoo or a tumor. Cameron is one of those guys who chases that 'more real then real' mentality with over specific foley & effects which completely ignore everything else not relevant TO that specific effect or moment. CGI has only made that compulsion worse. Don't believe me? Next time you watch T2 listen to the ambient sound or surrounding environment, and look for what's MISSING. CGI is exactly that, specific moment or object and everything else is MISSING. It will never replace practical, because practical is something our imagination can immerse ourselves into effortlessly. And please don't reference the fuctards who got depressed after seeing Avatar because the real world isn't like the movie.. asswipes who can't deal are everywhere ... look at the Twilight fanbase. I guarantee you, if it were a bunch of MEN flipping out over the characters, someone would have called the police and people would be going to jail. It's a matter or perspective.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 8:57 p.m. CST


    by DoctorZoidberg

    Well said.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:13 p.m. CST

    Practical vs CGI effects

    by gamerawangi

    Here's my viewpoint (MY viewpoint, 'kay) While, as a kid, I was highly entertained by practical effects in movies, never did I "buy into" them. I knew about special effects, and I knew what was real and what was a dummy, stand-in, etc. To me, when done right (as many have correctly pointed out) the result is much more lifelike. It's the result of the hard work of computer artists. "Artists" is the word many of you anti-CGI people seem to be missing. It ain't easy, and not everyone can pull it off. I find CGI effects, the ones where time and care have been put into, MUCH more immersive than practical effects. But that's MY opinion. However, another of my opinions is that, for too long, CGI has gotten an unfair amount of bashing in these talkbacks. Living in the SF Bay Area, where many effects houses exist, I can tell you: The life of a CGI artist is hard, just as hard as a practical effects expert. To make a CGI look good? The artist has to model is correctly, make it matchmove when necessary, have the correct texture and coloring, the correct lighting (which sometimes changes several times in just one shot). They have to give things the proper weight and mass and balance. Too often, I see people on here griping about CGI being a cheap "short cut". If you say that, you're demeaning the work of several dedicated, specially trained artists, many who work long hours, into the night, to get the shots as best they can on the budget and deadlines they have. They're not there to destroy practical effects. They're there to make it best with the tools they've been taught to use. They want it to look as cool as you do. Trust me. I've been there.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:14 p.m. CST

    Ridleyzilla is coming...!

    by Nasty In The Pasty

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:23 p.m. CST

    BADLY said largojr

    by white_vader

    CGI has only made this", "CGI is exactly that…

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:36 p.m. CST

    the anti-CG stance has become a bit too easy

    by chifforobe

    I was with them at the start, but it's become an easy target for people who don't really know what they're talking about to aim at. I'm the first to admit that most effects movies these days seem empty (and I'm not sure if I'm going to allow my heart to be broken by 'Prometheus' yet or not), but I don't think there's an easy answer. When it works, it's usually because of good story/storytelling-- in the end if the movie wins you over, you're not too worried about the effects. That said, I think one of the pit-falls of CG is that it gives us too many options, and unless the filmmaker knows when to pull their punches-- our eyes are bombarded with enough colors and textures to annoy a toddler (SW prequels? Transformers?). In the old days practical effects either looked terrible, or forced the filmmaker to be subtle and sneaky-- which just fueled good storytelling. In other words, I think a mixture of practical and CG works the best, which is still done, people just need to make better movies. They still happen once in a while (I don't think I'm along in pointing to Iron Man, Star Trek, or War of the Worlds as recent examples). I think most of us will admit that when it works cinematically, it doesn't matter what technique is being used.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Re: Tangcameo

    by SK229

    I always loved that moment. I took it as some weird, robotic thing Ash does to loosen his synthetic joints or some shit... but it was a small detail that added to the verisimilitude of the film. Then again, maybe there's a perfectly valid explanation that has nothing to do with anything so abstract that has escaped me thus far in life. Alien is just a perfect film... Oh, and Largo - EXCELLENT post. I think a lot of whether practical or CGI effects look real is down to the director. I've worked with digital and practical people and in both cases, I've been SHOCKED by what they find acceptable or what looks 'real' to them. Often, in their reel, They'll include side-work in ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS independent films where the vfx they do during the day might be stuff for Transformers and then they'll do an effect for a short or an indie at night that they'll be just as proud of and to them, they see no difference in the level of realism. And that goes for guys building puppets and models as well as those working with computers. You have to be FUCKING RELENTLESS to get something that looks real and I think most directors either don't know enough about how stuff is achieved to step in and have their own idea about how something should be done in order to look real, or they get tired of the pounding they have to do, throw their hands up, and just say 'Fuck it, that works.' If you look at the best visual effects, the directors of such films fall into a couple of categories: 1) Those who know when to use which effect and how camera direction, tone, pacing, and atmospheric effects, etc. can play into the realism. Spielberg is the best example of this guy. 2) Motherfuckers - these are people like Ridley Scott who may not know how the effect should be achieved, but they will not take no for an answer and will spend copious amounts of studio cash until it looks real TO THEIR EYE. Christopher Nolan would be another. But with him, I'm convinced he has little understanding of the digital process and therefore, when he does do CGI, it's gonna look FAKE AS HELL. So he sticks with stuff that can be done in camera as much as possible... no fuss, no muss, ready to edit into your cut the second you stop rolling. 3) People who could probably do the effect themselves (most are also motherfuckers) - Your Stanley Kubrick, your James Cameron's, your Neill Blomkamp's, and your Gore Verbinski's. With Gore, just go and watch the BTS stuff on At World's End and see how he interacts with the people at ILM. He knows exactly what needs to be done in each shot so they can't talk circles around him or say 'such and such can't be done'. Modern examples of category 3 would be Neill Blomkamp who knows as much about digital effects and how to use them as the people who are actually doing the labor. The guy who directed Monsters would be another. Personally, I think CGI is terrible at making things look organic. It always moves in a fake manner and comes off looking key framed and squishy and too fucking shiny. Practical, to me, is almost always better at doing something like a alien, while CGI is almost always better at doing something robotic. Another thing that helps CGI people is when the effect is partially done in a practical manner... so they have something to aim for, a visual reference that's cut INTO the film that they MUST match. I think Favreau dropped the ball (and did the proverbial hands up in the air) on Iron Man when he watched that side-by-side of the Winston Studios made suit and the CGI suit and couldn't tell the difference. They play the side-by-side on the blu-ray and I think the CGI suit doesn't have anywhere near the brushed metal look of the practical suit. And this was all so they could add all that CGI bullshit going on around the suit. For one, WHY THE FUCK did ILM (was it ILM, I forget?) feel the need to do that in the first place? Why did the digital effects people Nolan used on TDK feel the need to do a digital Batman effect to try to replace his need for stuntmen? (The story being that he could tell right away and was like, 'Nice try, but no.') What is the fucking point of it other than trying to do ALL the work on the film rather than the things that CGI is best at? THAT'S the kind of thing that turns me off to digital effects people, this feeling that everything can be done digitally and we just need to convert everyone with quaint ideas of building things or doing them in the real world and meanwhile, they'll show you something that looks fake as hell and they don't even realize it looks fake as hell. I think that's a big part of the problem and there are numerous examples where I just don't see what is being gained other than trying to expand what falls under their umbrella, realism be damned. Ok, rant over.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:43 p.m. CST

    Firefly & CGI

    by thelordofhell

    They purposely lens flared and shook and blurred the CGI cam to make the ship flying more realistic.....and it worked.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:53 p.m. CST


    by gamerawangi

    the believability of a moment on screen that can only be achieved thru practical effects

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:55 p.m. CST

    Will everyone please stop posting "FACT!".

    by notcher

    Just used so much as a shitty crutch to a usually shitty argument.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 9:58 p.m. CST


    by gamerawangi

    I think most of us will admit that when it works cinematically, it doesn't matter what technique is being used.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:03 p.m. CST


    by gamerawangi

    Agreed. Perhaps it will fade out like the fad when talkbackers tried to get people to think they were British. Thank god that's over with. Still thinking of pulling the faux-British thing? Hey, it didn't work for Madonna. And it ain't gonna work for you.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:04 p.m. CST

    re: sk229 ... Iron Man CGI

    by LargoJr

    Ok.. something unexpected when watching the extras and interviews on the "Cowboys & Aliens" blu... Favreau didn't really 'drop the ball' as you put it... he talks about how, on "Iron Man"... the studio cut his budget mid production and he had to go through and gut much of his originally intended shots involving the suit and its environments... He was seriously pissed about it, but forged on with production. THEN Transformers hit, and suddenly the studio gave him more money, wanting more shots to compare with what they had seen in Transformers. He had to go back and rush production of content in shots he had scrapped previously, as he was nearing the end of his schedule. Was kind of a nightmare for him.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Ash's behaviour.

    by Robbiemc9

    Ash does his little running jog to warm up / lubricate his joints. It is a slight note Ridley plays to add to his strangness. He shoves the rolled up magazine down Ripleys throat because he started going faulty and didn't really know how to attack. I think Ridley made note of this in one of his commentarys that it was his way of possibly raping her in a surrelistic way. The shove Ripley gives him in the control room is what "breaks" him - or - he was programed to protect the Alien so was executing his order by attacking her. I think it is actually a combination of both because prior to ripping her hair out you see the shot of him sweating the milk coloured fluid. Ultimately the pressure of everything fried his circuts and he malfuctions. Like an Iphone running full on a hot day. The ONLY fault I seen in Alien that dates it is the Control / Mother room. I really disslike all those pointless blinking lights. They serve no technical reason. CGI the fuckers out and you have a great movie. CGI has it's place and I admire the talent that goes into it. I think it has a bum rap from bastards like Lucas or just insufficent time and money. I think more work goes into makeing good CGI then practal effects. Then again you have the case of The Thing - Carpenters effects still hold up extreamly well - the most recent movies effects in CGI were abysmal. First movie = terrorfying. Second movie = hysterically funny.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 10:49 p.m. CST

    THANK GOD! BTSPOTD was daily fix!

    by Ruester

    Shit, I finally got clean and now I'm being pulled right back in!!! Thanks Quint!

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:09 p.m. CST


    by white_vader

    You know I respect you mate and that you put your money where your mouth is (more than can be said of most AICN TBers), but "Why the fuck"? For the MOST obvious of reasons. While there ARE many people in the trenches that want to do everything the one way to boost their own egos, the blindingly obvious reason for doing a digital doppleganger of a live/practical plate is that it forces the cg guys to go through all the steps to GET that eye for realism in the first place. To go through all the "shit, why does it STILL look wrong" reverse-engineering to get their eye honed to the point where when they have to do the million things that CAN'T be done practically - they will have the skill to do it. It's a bit disinguous to use Iron Man as an example for a number of reasons. Especially as the cleaner analogy is the "other gauntlet" story where he's hovering. Being honest, the metal suit would have had to be done anyway! He did fly in that one, right? And how would they have done those shots practically? Anyway, this is getting off the track. Replicating is in no way redundant. You need to match to practical or train yourself through elimination to have a regimented mental checklist to achieve a higher standard. And then you can creatively go on from there - like the Pixar guys - who perfectly matched the real world water reference in Nemo to train themselves into identifying the important points in dealing with that world - and then went beyond into NON-photorealism and stylisation for the sake of the story. It's the people and the trained eye, which is why people like Dennis Muren kept winning Oscars even into the digital age and why in general the same lots keep winning them despite pretty much everyone right down to the garage enthusiast using the same tools (job-specific r&d and proprietary tools aside), Largo. Also, Blomkampf owns an FX shop, and as far as I can recall Verbinski was actually a compositor at ILM himself. The Scotts own an FX house too but I don't think they're hands-on. And the haters NEVER admit that what many digital FX shots try to do these days is LEAGUES beyond what practical aimed for in any shot. And as I said in my first post, the idea that practical effects can make a full-body character walk across a room without having to use a million cuts or tricks to disguise it is bullshit. The alien would never in a million years have looked like anything but a man in a suit (and I know this is heresy, but the final shot of Ridley's Alien is pretty much laughable in that respect, and could have been even a rigged puppet in that and the previous two shots and looked much better). Please mate, apples to apples. Like I've also said, while yes there is unarguable value in the discipline enforced by limitations, the thing is they're ENFORCED - it also simultaneously strangles the art form. Plusses and minuses each way, but only one will advance storytelling in general. Largo said his piece incredibly badly by doing the old "cgi is responsible". Until the Computer Generated Imagery (to point it out for those who don't even know what it stands for and are the same types who say ATM machine) itself somehow achieves sentience, this will never happen. You yourself will know that the more unbridled your imagination, the higher the threshold for suspending your disbelief. And as the very premise of a story becomes more fantastic, effects will NEVER achieve realism, because it's anachronistic to an inherently UNreal idea. We agree though it seems that multiple techniques/hiding the seams is the way forward, because it makes people give up on trying to guess the trick and then just follow the story. The problem seems to be that while the more knowledgable TBers understand a holistic view is required for good FX, they don't apply it to their own arguments. What people like Largo won't admit is that there would be as large a percentage of shitty-to-great FX films these days if CG never happened. Because of the same ratio of "good enough" to "motherfuckers".

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:10 p.m. CST


    by Dark Doom

    They didn't make that mother by kit bashing, looks completely hand made/sculpted. Lovely work.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Fuck! What the hell AIC? My Largo post!

    by white_vader

    - Is nearly all gone bar the first few words! Goddammit!

  • I mean, Stanley fucking Kubrick got it right, way back in 1968 with 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Discovery had flat panel monitors, and even the crew had tablets that foresaw the iPad. Since they didn't actually have the technology back then for true flat panel monitors, Kubrick used rear projection tricks to create the effect. Nevertheless, he realized that display technology would have advanced to allow for flat, thin panel displays...which was such a cool detail he didn't miss. I don't know why Ridley didn't use the same technique, and show large, flat panel displays, rather then the clunky, small and noticeably curved CRTs. The CRT used for "Mother" is a perfect example, and one of the very few things that seriously "dates" the film.

  • Jan. 1, 2012, 11:31 p.m. CST

    re: white_vader

    by LargoJr

    No idea what your post to me would have looked like.. Lets be honest here. I never once indicated that film making or the 'artform' in general would be better off if CGI had never happened, and it's unfair for you to claim as such on my behalf. 'Jurassic Park' is a perfect example of C.G.I. not only being necessary, but worked almost flawlessly. However.. the other side of that coin is that I think the HUGE number of absolute shit-tastic films that audiences have suffered thru in the last 2 decades or so would be drastically reduced without CGI's introduction. Lucas wouldn't have gone back and butt-raped his original trilogy, and Yoda would have remained the wise and powerful teacher, not some hyper-fucking-thyroid grasshopper super-ninja... and left the actual combat to the Knights. Spielberg wouldn't have given ATF agents flashlights while chasing E.T., and K.O.T.C.S. wouldn't still be giving 'Raiders' fans convulsive vomiting. C.G.I. is a tool like any other (as so often & well stated by others in this talkback), and just because you HAVE a tool, doesn't mean you should use it.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:01 a.m. CST

    I missed this section of AICN alot

    by DementedCaver

    ...glad that it is back...although...I also loved The Hobbit stuff very much as well

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 1:42 a.m. CST

    Behind the scenes on the derelict, planetoid, space jockey, etc

    by Valaquen

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 2:53 a.m. CST

    I always wondered..

    by diseptikon

    With the Dallas cocoon scene being deleted out and "supposedly" showing the alien lifecycle of egg creation without a queen, if Ash somehow became impregnated himself and was trying to robot heimlich and knock up Ripley.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 2:56 a.m. CST

    awesome site valaquen

    by diseptikon

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 4:11 a.m. CST

    You need to be clearer in your posts then Largo - fair?

    by white_vader

    You kept saying CGI was responsible in that post. Not crappy use of the tool, but the tool itself. If you're gonna be so vehement, take care not to sound like every other idiot hater. And "by others"? I guess you're including me then. Thanks. But you still miss the point. Did you really see my post to SK? And hell YES Lucas would have "raped" (rolleyes) his trilogy anyway (because even practical technology has advanced). He already started to with Jedi! Re-doing the cantina scene? Check. Taking the Wookiee planet out of the bin from the first one and resurrecting it with the Ewoks? Check. ANOTHER Death Star? Check. The beginning of badly intercutting multiple plot threads where the comedy in one cuts down the drama of the other two? Check. That sort of stuff doesn't sound EXACTLY like what he did in the prequels? I don't hate Jedi so don't misunderstand my point. And didn't Spielberg give them walkie-talkies not flashlights (they always had flashlights at the start right) at the end of E.T.? And didn't he also screw the ending in the PRE digital special edition of Close Encounters? YES. I'm not even going to go into Jurassic Park, because people are just too subjective about it and don't acknowledge it uses every get out of jail free card for some shots to obscure the cg giveaways and the daytime shots stand up nowhere NEAR as well - but besides that it doesn't really matter because it was still brilliantly done with the time and money concentrating on the main point and tone of the scene more than the technicality and is indeed a textbook example of using one technique to compliment the other. Not to mention it did some pioneering stuff as we all know so there's always going to be some lack of finesse when you're trying to figure stuff out. It's just that no-one here is willing to call it out objectively because they think it can't be done without tearing the film down. Your Avatar example misunderstands what's actually important in the scene and why that secondary animation might have been skipped (I haven't seen it in a while). An analogy - no-one ever notices shots of Gollum where his hair doesn't move. You know why? Even though he's jumping around and it should be moving in the wind and all that, the main point of the scene is the drama of it and the performance, it's night-time, there's motion blur anyway etc etc, and if your budget and time constraints demand only a certain amount of tweaking shots, it just isn't as important in the scheme of things as maybe other shots, if you have the eye to know. If you have to face the reality that you don't have an infinite budget or endless time to make a shot perfect, then it comes down to what's most important to the storytelling. And show me how that Avatar shot could have been done practically to put the tall skinny blue guy (MUCH more important to the story) BELOW the backpack and then you'll have a fair complaint. And God only knows how many digital matte shots (Satan's work if you listen to AICN TBers) go by completely unnoticed because they're SO well integrated and executed in a way traditional ones nearly never were. True, some matte shots were meant to be show-stopping feats of painting that drew attention to themselves within the context of an establishing shot, but most/many were meant to be invisible. They're even composed that way spatially. And many of the best were and still are done by Craig Barron's Matte World, whether there's a "Digital" after that name or not. And no, you just would have had OTHER shit-tastic films over the last 2 decades (if we take T2 not the Abyss as the start of the unbroken CG run). The only difference would be that writers would have continued to use the "we can't actually do that" crutch, yes crutch to write ambitious and imaginative scenes out before they wrote them into screenplays in the first place. You also made ludicrous comments about Foley effects (ooh, how knowledgable, Foley), completely missing the point of sound design and how astonishingly abstract it can be (and often is while going by unnoticed because sound is so visceral) and how based on emotional logic and the tone of the scene it is, to say nothing of inherent inconsistencies when it comes to geography, spatial ambiance and so on. You'd be a terrible sound designer because you don't understand how it's used - based on those comments at least. The T2 thing was embarrassing. Ask yourself WHY they might have made a creative decision to NOT include every ambient effect and you might just wake up to a whole world that's MUCH closer to what it is filmmakers actually do. Jesus that was a stupid example because of what it betrayed. I wanna show it to some sound guys to have a good laugh and a round of facepalms. Sure there's plenty of bad sound around, but it was always the case and linking it to CG as you did is just astounding. Your use of (generally redundant) cold logic blinds you to a world of poetry and enjoyment where the language of films is concerned though. I also didn't see you take the Hobbit trailer to task for it's bad wig and beard edges or rushed set dressing with stuff neatly stacked and looking brand new instead of organically aged and positioned absentmindedly in keeping with the owner/in character which is the sort of stuff these practically-based people should be doing to help the storytelling. If you're gonna rag on a backpack then again I say - apples to apples and remember the storytelling, emotional point of the scene first before you split anal-retentive hairs. And YOU were the one that said "let's be honest"! Anyway it seems we do agree on some points, but I still feel justified in taking you to task for your bad wording and shoddy examples in that first post. I noticed another of my answers taking a talkbacker to task is almost gone as well, so hopefully this will get through to you.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 5:36 a.m. CST

    re: white_vader pt2

    by LargoJr

    Ugh.. you really like to twist peoples words to support your own diatribe it seems... must really love the sound of your own voice. Disagree? Fine. I never linked foley to CGI.. that's YOU looking for what you want, not reading what's there. I linked foley to CAMERON and his constant need for 'more real then real', as he does with just about everything else in his work, including CGI. Your arguments are self serving and twist as your point wavers between tooting your own horn, and calling other people names, with no real examples to support or vilify either way of your opinions. Oh, and saying in every paragraph how yo know "this", or "that"? Yeah, I'm sure you think it sounds impressive.. good for you. My impression is that you're just another asshole who REALLY likes to troll rather then discuss anything with intelligence. Which is true of about 60-80% of the TBers on a good day, so you fit right in. Welcome home.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 5:36 a.m. CST

    aw hell no


    not this crap again! More bewildering Alien talkbacks? fuck can we just see Prometheus and get it over with

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 5:46 a.m. CST

    Without getting all Rodney King.......

    by Deano316

    Why can't CGI and Practical just get along?

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6 a.m. CST

    Great site valaquen... THANKS!

    by LargoJr

    I love getting background info and details like that. Backstory is always SO damn fun. appreciate it man... thanks again!

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6:30 a.m. CST

    Wow Largo

    by white_vader

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Reread your own first post. Carefully. But yeah, that's it for me probably. Should have known better to try to talk to someone who mistakes "then" for "than" in terms of telling them their message could have been worded better. Especially the T2 example. NOW I see your hamfisted point. Go back and see how badly you made it first time around. You say I give no examples. But you only gave ONE example in that post and I DID give another where I showed why you can't see the forest for the trees. I have no idea what on earth you mean by the self aggrandising "this" and "that" stuff. And your argument about my supposed ego made no sense at all to me. I was no more passionate than you. If English is actually your second language though, I apologise. I hadn't considered that. It's a shame, because while we agree on some things, you can't seem to see past your OWN nose. Anyone who knows me (I've been here since the start) also knows when I go on these effects rants, it's always to try to argue against the rampant myopia, whether I'm taking the side of traditional effects or digital ones. That's all I can tell you. Sorry if you think it's all ego.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 6:54 a.m. CST

    Best use of CG & practical

    by Rtobert

    I thought the New York streets in King Kong worked well - they built the first level for real, then extended the set upwards and to infinity (Broadway, etc). Hard to see the seam when watching it in real time.

  • You remember that scene I'm talking about?

  • Oh yeah because we've mastered visual effects at every level. It's Lucas and his swinging monkeys that you hate- not cg. You don't hate cg anymore than you hate pencils. However if drew a swinging Shia monkey in pencil you'd probably hate it. UltraTron has kaboshed

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 8:54 a.m. CST

    That Alien Series blog

    by Autodidact

    is a really high quality ALIENS site. Wow! Just came across the pictures of props from Alien 3. They have Hicks with his head smashed. On the one hand I hate that they killed Hicks & Newt.. on the other hand, you gotta admire them for it. Alien 3 is really nasty to its characters.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Best use of CG & Practical is Starship Troopers

    by Autodidact

    I'm sure it's got a lot to do with how unfamiliar most of the creature designs are, but Starship Troopers makes incredibly convincing use of mixed CGI and practical creatures. There's also a lot of practical miniature model work with motion control for the ships... I love the way the ships look in that movie.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:04 a.m. CST

    One part of the ALIEN life cycle we have not seen

    by Autodidact

    The "seed" or embryonic chestburster... whatever the facehugger deposits into your chest. Some kind of Acheronic tadpole.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:28 a.m. CST

    The cg subject has been ultra kaboshed. See previous posts.

    by UltraTron

    I agree about the CRT monitors dating alien and Bladerunner. Kubrick's genius always reaches out from beyond the grave every time I see them. Fortunately I could now track in widescreen holographic monitors so seamlessly that they would look like they had been there since '79. Could even have little cigarette butts sitting on em. We're talking revisionist film altering for a fucking reason instead of that bullshit Lucas does.

  • From the start the film was screaming tax-deduction. I'm like- these designs are as bland as I've seen from science fiction. The Martians use what looks like 60s earth technology. I paused it at the point at which I could take no more. About 10 minutes in when he meets the trash heap aliens and they mimick his mom with a vacuum cleaner. Scroll to this point in the movie and show it to everyone you know. That right there is my vote for worst scene in the entire history of film. It's worse than that movie they blogged about on chud that had the guy stab himself in the stomach while jerking off and cumming blood.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:46 a.m. CST

    I'm fine with the CRTs in Alien

    by Autodidact

    Leave it alone. Ultratron I would slap you if I could. Stop with all the bullshittin'! Maybe they're special space-CRTs with massive amounts of radiation shielding for while the ship does whatever it does while the crew is hybernating. Maybe they're super heavy-duty given the need to survive atmospheric descents, landings, and take-offs. (I realize CRT internals are more succeptible to jarring than LCDs... maybe these CRTs in this universe are not). Maybe they're super long-lasting.. it seems a lot of the hardware used by Weyland Yutani is fairly aged.. maybe CRTs can go thirty years on an install. Whatever... when I watch ALIEN I notice the CRTs too but I always do some hand-waving as per the above and go on to enjoy the movie. Never has such a blasphemous thought as camera tracking in some flat-screens entered my mind. What a sin that would be.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 10:02 a.m. CST

    gamerawangi ... I always thought

    by MurderMostFowl

    The main blame for CGI effects was not that CGI is easy, but that it makes *filmmakers* lazy. Instead of working with an effects team when visual compromises needed to be reached or having to work through challenges of lighting, budget location, etc... you have filmmakers using the excuse of CGI to "make the movie good", or worse... films that are devised simply to show off effects. Ironically, you can blame george lucas for the film industry's focus on effects driven stories because Star Wars shocked the world so much and most people didn't know why it was a success and assumed it was the effects ( even George Lucas believe(s/d) this! ) And of course he's also the person who went and proved exactly how far is too far with CGI. I wonder how many much of the early CGI mistakes came from studios pushing CGI effects onto their films, so they too could have the new "it" thing. The problem of course is if the CGI was too conspicuous, it was laughable. The airplane landing for "Air Force One" will forever be in my hall of fame for "WTF were they thinking" Sure there are tons of examples of horrible CGI from the last 3 decades, but I agree with you that much of that was in appropriate expectations, deadlines, inappropriate amount of direction etc. Also an immaturity of the technology IMO. How long was stop motion an art before the hey day of go motion? 30 years? How long was CGI in film before it started being herald as the solution to all effects? 10ish?

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 10:35 a.m. CST

    That'll do, Quint.

    by Jake

    That'll do.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 11:30 a.m. CST

    attention diseptikon: rolled-up magazine weapon

    by zinc_chameleon

    You probably aren't old enough to remember an TV episode of 'Stoney Burke' when the rodeo hires a weapon specialist to investigate a mysterious murder. In one scene, this tall thin specialist takes down an attacker who is armed with a switchblade, and all he uses is a rolled-up magazine, like an old copy of Life. If you hit someone fast and hard with the blunt end, it's basically a piece of wood, and has the same effect.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 11:36 a.m. CST

    I saw we take off and nuke Skywalker Ranch from orbit

    by Rtobert

    It's the only way to be sure

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Welcome back, Quint! Happy New Year!

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    Awesome photo! As much as I hesitate to dip my toe into the CGI vs. Practical argument, I prefer a combination of the two. I think it has its place, and when it's done correctly it's seamless - as in 'District 9'. The aliens in that movie have 'weight' and mass- you totally belive it, as opposed to say, 'Attack of the Clones', which has scenes that seem cartoonish and scream "fake!!" I'm sure as was stated above, that it's sometimes shoehorned into films when practical effects could do the same thing. I'm sure as the technology advances, it will eventually integrate to the point where you can't tell the difference. There were points in 'Iron Man' where I was hard pressed to separate the two, and other scenes where it was glaringly obvious.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 2:19 p.m. CST

    And I don't think "Alien" looks dated at all...

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    ...I've just always taken the track that we're on a 'Space Truck', where the tech isn't as up to date as it could be. When you're crossing interstellar distances that require 'hypersleep', you're bound to fall behind on the latest technology. It doesn't take me out of the film at all. I just accept it as part of the 'grittiness' of the ship. Oh, and please - keep that Lucas-type revisionist bullshit away from classic films like these. I don't need this film 'updated'in any way. It stands just fine on its own. The only time I've seen that done well is on the 'Star Trek' Original series Blu-rays, where it's limited to viewscreens, and beauty shots of Enterprise orbiting planets and such. I know it sounds a bit hypocritical but the TOS effects are 60's cheese, and if you prefer the original effects they're available to you on the discs (although I could do without the Gorn 'blinking'). (One caveat - I've only seen the first season of the 'upgraded' TOS, so I can't speak to any episodes that have any space battles, save 'Errand of Mercy'. If anyone has seen 'Doomsday Machine' or 'Ultimate Computer' in that format I'd be interested in their opinion.)

  • I was watching the Prometheus trailer and saw the space jockey rising up in all his glory! As this is a prequel to Alien one thing struck me...... In Alien Dallas says that the original space jockey is fossilised, which means its been there an awful loooong time. So can we assume that the space jockey in the Prometheus trailer is a different one, or will we get a bit of time travel?

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Click to Embiggen, ONLY it Em-smallin'...

    by Red43jes

    The pic is smaller when clicked on it. I wanted to see this blown up, too. Disappointed.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 4:43 p.m. CST


    by diseptikon

    I understand that a rolled up magazine can be used as a stabbing weapon, however, Ash wasnt using it as looks more like a funnel for something he was getting ready to blarp up.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 7:50 p.m. CST

    damn you theveryfirst!!

    by LargoJr

    LOL.. still coughing orange juice... ya limy bastard!

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Alien isn't dated, it looks superior to most modern films


    The sets look worn and lived in while modern sets and cgi sets look like plastic models and cartoons. I bash the cgi bashers because I think it is a great tool, really I'm talking about the spaceship and the sets had great detail and realism.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST

    CGI characters are too easy to spot

    by GeorgieBoy

    I'll take the ESB puppet of Yoda any day over that jumping Kermit the Frog from Episode II... CGI *CHARACTERS* are too easy to spot. Spaceships and landscapes however... That's where CGI should live.

  • Jan. 2, 2012, 10:17 p.m. CST

    do you really want to take Dallas's word that it's 'fossilized'?


    he was basically head trucker..a freighter captain..not a geophysicist or biologist. everything they said was an assumption- that it had been there a long time and was fossilized. as we know now the ALIEN (and likely most of the biomech stuff) is silicon based. Ash even said that aloud. Drained of life, whatever the spacejockey corpse once was could easily turn very hard after death of a short time. BUT i'm still not ruling out that the derelict ship isn't eons old. i think there is something to the possible time travel scenario.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Jurassic Park used practical, fools!

    by GordoSan#1

    Is this real life? Did everyone who loves movies just forget about Stan Winston's work on JP? I keep seeing JP thrown around as best use of CG, but if that is true then it is because they knew to leave all of the close-ups to practical and use the best mix between the two. If Jurassic Park were to be made today, it would look worse. FACT! Haha. You know it's true. They would have gone all CGI and the T-Rex head would not look as good, even today. Neither would the raptors. It would be all fake water dripping down a too smooth dino head. Now I'm not anti-CGI at all. I just think it is best used sparingly, just as stop-motion once was. I love how they used to go from a blue screen shot and cut to a matte painting shot or something different. They used to sell the reality by always switching up the technique. I would also like to see better mixes of CGI augmented prosthetics and such. How about building detailed models and scanning them in to become a CGI model? I think that Hollywood paints by numbers and can no longer think outside of the process that they boxed themselves into.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 3:08 a.m. CST

    CGI is fine

    by Terence James

    as long as the characters don't have to interact with it. That's why JP got it right... The characters only ever interact with Stan Winstons amazing models. If you look at one of the Star Wars prequels, Ewan McGregor has no idea what he's supposed to be looking at. He's like Clarence the cross eyed lion....

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 5:29 a.m. CST


    by KilliK

    Cgi Neytiri crying while real Jake is holding her head with his hand and then she holds his hand too is THE groundbreaking moment in the history of the cgi evolution. It is paradigm shift in cgi,VFX wont be the same again.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 8:59 a.m. CST

    Just giving background VeryFirst, take a breath.

    by white_vader

    I meant in terms of the start of AICN and it was to give some context to the reason for my objective/devil's advocate stance on this stuff in here. So yep it did actually mean something in terns of why/how I was arguing. Get over yourself and read it properly this time. You're right though, I should have dumbed it right down for you so you could feel more superior. Wasn't big-upping myself like you with your pissy takedowns or Largo who is now retreating to passive-aggressiveness and sucking YOUR dong. Jesus. Some people actually appreciate another angle on something they never actually thought through from both sides or God forbid generally disagree with. I do anyway. All I was doing in each post was trying to combat the sort of badly worded hyperbole (which is important if you're discussing technical stuff) hatahs keep mindlessly spouting. Brilliant way to teach me a lesson mate - it seems you're like all those teen morons with your fuck you if you think or post like you know more than me myopic bullshit. And yeah nice handle - what a hilariously ironic backfire. But hey, no worries, keep hurling abuse, I'm sure it makes your tiny world feel so much cosier.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    It seems Scott did want flat and transparent screens

    by white_vader

    8 mil budget is a bitch.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Gebus... white_vader give it up would you? Go away already

    by LargoJr

    Seriously kiddo, nobody gives a shit. If you want people to actually take what you have to say seriously... don't insulting people right off for their opinion, then justify it with YOUR opinion as if yours is the only 'right'. Try backing up your OPINION with valid points that someone ELSE might agree with, rather than falling back on more self serving opinions. It's called a dialogue, and is part of a process for convincing others to adopt your point of view. If you don't want to convince anyone of anything, then STFU and stop being a douche. Don't tout yourself as superior by default.. it's gauche. This includes constantly 'singing your own praises' in every post that has fallen out of your crack Never use 'myopic' or any of its derivatives again, as it makes you sound like a douche. Stop backpedaling on your obvious insults to make it sound like you've somehow taken the 'high road' and only endeavored to enlighten us philistines & ingrates. Next time you say you're not going to post any more... put your money where your mouth is, you flat-headed, shit-flinging primate.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST

    The best uses of CGI are the instances you don't notice.

    by v3d

    David Fincher's Zodiac comes to mind. Like all other effects methods, it's a tool that can either be used appropriately or not. Back in the days before cgi, people would bitch about seeing wires, and the phoniness of models.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 4:11 p.m. CST

    CGI versus practical - yet another opinion (gasp)

    by Darth Macchio

    And I'll echo most of the average comments here calling it, like any other special effect, a tool. We don't argue over which types of hammers are the best - we use the one best suited to the job (though you may argue over which *brand* of hammers are better, that's something else). That said, I think some really great points were brought up like 'even bad practical effects seem to not be as bad as bad cgi effects' but this leads to my question to some of you who sound as if you work in this particular industry... Which costs more, small scale practical effects work done to perfection or non-large scale cgi done to perfection? I mention small-scale practical as I'm not talking about building entire sets or ship interiors but more "on actor" or "actor related" effects. And I mention 'non-large scale cgi' as I know that's inherently expensive. Think of that one scene in Hellboy - when he crumbles the coke can - that's cgi (hand crushing can) mixed with practical (Perlman in makeup) - I found that to be a noticeable if not terrible use of CGI. Would it have been more expensive to work that effect out with practical effects? I've always heard that cgi is far more expensive than practical when done right. And if some of you guys who tend to insist on dismissing cgi actually looked at the process of creating cgi effects and art, you might have to check your opinion as it's not unlike drawing/painting on a virtual canvas. Which, I'm guessing, most of you cannot do. There are no nested algorithms that "automatically" make stuff look great in cgi and even though you can "cut and past" stuff in a word processor, you really can't do that when generating focused imagery on the screen - the human eye is very good at subconsciously detecting the "fake" even if not noticing what in particular (see "Polar Express", etc). I'd say that there's maybe a little less of a 'talent curve' to creating cgi effects compared to practical art and sculpting effects but to say that it's not art or "lazy" and/or "cheap" is being very asstastically disingenuous, in my opinion.

  • Jan. 3, 2012, 6:12 p.m. CST

    I'll put it in words you can understand then Largo

    by white_vader

    Fuck off with your hypocritical bullshit you massive twat. Jesus you make more of a laughing stock of yourself with every moronic post. Hell no I won't go now. And you accuse ME of name-calling. Fine, I'll do it too. Seems to be all you understand. Although you don't seem to know what "probably" means and why I did come back. And saying I sound like a douche for using myopic? Yeah OK. God forbid I use my vocabulary instead of just thinking up a million four letter words. It's one of the most astoundingly stupid things I've ever heard - someone arguing you shouldn't express yourself using regular words. What's the problem, had to look it up? Because if you didn't then I have no idea why you'd react that way. Besides guilt over your idiotic DIATRIBE (ooh noez! You used a big word too! You must be a fuckwit by your own definition!) in that first post of yours that started all this. You whine about your opinion when it WASN'T presented as such. THAT was why I argued with you. Sure I can attack your comprehension. It's obviously lousy. And you don't even have to read my stuff for that. Jesus. One instance I'm a snob, the next a simpleton name caller. And God forbid I post something more than a soundbite. Oh noez! And man you're just too hilarious with your outrage about examples. Remember the Gollum stuff? Of course not. You just keep whining about no examples! Remember the Close Encounters stuff about Puck or the SE ending? Remember I didn't want to get into Jurassic Park too much because everyone has much too rose-coloured glasses on it and it's just not a black-and-white argument there but you seem to be an expert so I thought citing the night vs daylight scenes would be enough, but obviously not. I'm happy to come back and give you a hundred examples of good and bad on both sides of the fence when I have time. I'm almost scared to say it'll need to be later because yes I do put my money where my mouth is and work across many areas of movies from pre-production all the way through post, and traditional to cg. But oh noez! If I admit that I'm not just shouting ignorant slurs from the sidelines that'll make me a 'douche', right? Right? The saddest thing is all I did initially was argue with a poorly written (like I say, being precise if your gonna talk technical stuff isn't too much to ask) post where yes, you did directly accuse CGI of being the cause of the world's woes before backpedalling later and saying you only ever meant its use. Reread your first post Largo! And I think what really upset you wasn't that I argued, but that I belittled your literal-mindedness and misunderstanding of the main thrust/point/tone of scenes and why technical things are 'let go'. I can give you an example of why the Walker scene in Empire is at once one of the stupidest but simultaneously one of the greatest fx scenes ever. But you'll just call me a douche again, right? I won't apologise for that. And I won't say sorry for coming back after you've proved to be more of a shit-slinging monkey than anyone here. The worst thing is that we probably agree on a lot of stuff (like cool backstory and that great site), but you're too much of an arsehole to admit you were wrong in any respect. You certainly couldn't come to the table on why the backpack thing doesn't matter. I'll shake hands and make up if you actually admit some of your stupid shit.

  • First, let's lay something to rest here: CG is not easy. Neither are opticals. Yes, CG can look fake. Newsflash: so can opticals. There's a saying that comes from Science Fiction, specifically from Theodore Sturgeon: 90% of everything is crap. In fact, that's Sturgeon's Law. I remember seeing a shit-ton of movies in the eighties and early nineties where the special effects, done optically, sucked pondwater through a straw. Perspective wasn't done right, the matte lines were showing, the stop motion puppet was too jittery, the monster was too rubbery, and had all the life of a farted-on potato. Ah, but it was photographed, so it was more real! Even though these things never registered as anything but fake. This is what people call Nostalgia. Ultimately, what we're talking about here is fake anyways. They could light it correctly, do the dynamics, and whatever, but if you go in it thinking "If it's CGI I'm going to say its fake", then you can never be adequately convinced. For my part, my attitude is this: it's all fake anyways. So, unless the effect is so horrible as to be undeniably wretched, I don't get bent out of shape. If I wanted the utterly real, I wouldn't step foot in a theatre, or crack open a book or watch a television. As a student who graduated from a radio-TV-program, I know a lot of the tricks anyways. But you know what? I watch these programs to enjoy them, mainly, not to pick them apart. I don't go into a show, typically, trying to actively ruin my own suspension of disbelief. There's no caliber of artistry on a space alien that isn't real that can satisfy a person determined to call it fake. So really, folks, lighten up. It's all fake anyways. You'll probably notice a lot more of the quality and the care that goes into CGI than you otherwise would.

  • Jan. 4, 2012, 8 a.m. CST

    Dear white_vader (AKA: Trollenstein)

    by LargoJr

    DO you even know what a crutch is? It's the basis of my initial post in this thread. I didn't back-pedal on jack shit. My point (and I'm sure a fair numbers of others will agree with me) is that the tools use can only be blamed on the film maker. An example: You sprain your ankle climbing up the stairs from your bedroom in your Mom's basement. The Dr. tells you to use a crutch for 10 days then stop & begin walking without it for increasing periods of time. Three months later you go to the Dr. and tell him you're having neck, back, shoulder, knee, and hip pain. He asks you "Why you're STILL using the crutch?" You answer "Because it's so convenient to lean on when I'm waiting for my Mom to come pick me up." It's your fault you choice to use the tool you were given to excess simply because you were too lazy to manage on your own. Directors find it a terribly tantalizing choice when deciding between 20 minutes of exposition and character building dialogue, or an extended sequence of things going "boom!" The idea of blaming CGI for bad movies is just plain ridiculous. It's just a tool, that can be used to the benefit or detriment of a film like any other element. My point was that many considerably bad films of the last several decades could have been MUCH better had thought been put into character & plot rather then 45 minutes of people staring at a green screen with nothing to reference but a floating ping-pong ball and a man off camera hissing "You're both in awe & terrified at the same time! Now ACT!" But I don't expect you admit anything... you're quite enamored of this personae you're attempting to project; that of the Great Saviour, descending from yon Olympus on your mighty winged two-headed butt-plug... eyes aglow with the promise of knowledge and Bic lighters. I'm quite certain you have better things to do then respond to my post, being so well integrated & 'networked' with folks (obviously very important folks) who labor within the Film-making Industry. So I will leave you to it. Just remember to cradle the balls with your tongue rather then grip them with your greasy, girl hands the next time you're sucking a dong. Also, don't forget to trim your merkin, no-one likes a matted chin during a blowjob. PS: Don't forget to clean your room, or your Mom is going to start charging you rent.

  • Jan. 4, 2012, 9:04 a.m. CST

    Hey MentalDunce

    by Autodidact

    Do you not see that your post format is completely fucked up and irritating to read?

  • Geez, that's a great site. Enough interesting info on the Alien franchise to keep one busy ad infinitum....

  • Jan. 5, 2012, 4:35 a.m. CST

    Why (some) CG sucks

    by Robert

    I have spent the last 15-16 or so years of my life in visual effects, some of it in traditional animation but most of it has been in CG. I've worked for everyone from Joe Kosinski to Jon Favreau to George Lucas. I have worked on some crap and some really awesome stuff. The reason for the crap goes beyond "CGI is hard" (yes, it can be) or "Real always looks better" (also mostly true). It's all about control, and self control. First of all, not all practical effects look spectacular. I'm a big fan of practical (I've done some animatronics myself) but we've all seen instances where we cut from an actor to a rubber head, and know what we're looking at instantly. When practical looks fake, it's usually because of a lack of natural motion, or possibly a bad likeness of the actor. Even though it's real, and the head is a life cast of the actor with hand-punched hairs and the whole nine, it moves wrong for a head because someone's hand is inside or it's controlled by wires and rods. The eye surgery scene in Terminator comes to mind, and that's Stan freaking Winston! There are much worse examples but the better ones we ignore because the story is good and with effective cutting it works. And yes, even though it's somehow wrong, it looks better than 90% of CG heads. (Flynn?) When CG looks fake it is also usually because of unnatural motion, but it could also be bad lighting or compositing. See now you've not only got to make that face look the same shape and color as Arnold, you've also got to light him artificially, blend him into a live action plate, AND get him moving correctly. Lighting takes up a lot of render power and so a lot of times compositing shortcuts are taken to deliver the shot on time. You can use mocap to get the performance, but mocap lacks the subtlety of nature and so you end up having an animator tweaking it as well, which is kind of like trying to puppeteer a living person while they are acting. But sometimes there is no other way to get that shot of your actor emoting with half his face melting away. Or a monster walking through the scene. I also guarantee you've all seen CG that you did not know was CG. It's so ubiquitous now that it's used for completely mundane things, and there are thousands of invisible effects in every form of media we consume. But it's also overused. It's also generally cheaper than practical. Here's an example: I did a CG spinning hamburger for the biggest fast food chain on the planet. A hamburger. Know why? Because of union rules, the alternative was to use a food stylist who gets mid six figures to pimp burgers. And that's for one commercial. Plus all the other union workers that have to be on set for a food shoot, all on the clock. Or, you can just pay a couple CG artists a small fraction of that (there is no VFX union) to look at the food stylist's work for a couple weeks and duplicate the look. Sure it may be only 75-80% of the quality of the stylist's work, but we're talking motherfuckin hamburgers. Directors mostly love CG because it gives them supreme control over every single pixel on the screen. It's actually called pixelfucking--I'm not kidding. This absolute control translates to a lot of carelessness on the set so a part of almost every effects budget goes to fixing shooting mistakes. Didn't like the way that studio take went? No problem, some overworked junior artist will be happy to give up his dwindling sleepy time to completely reconstruct the scene in CG so that you can have the actor turn slightly more to the right. And planning? Pffft. Just let that fat 2nd cameraman walk right in front of the lead actors, someone will spend 2 weeks in post painting it out. True story. Also--Directors: Some of them are one take wonders, and when you get someone who knows exactly what he wants paired with a top notch artist or vfx supe who has an eye for realism, you can make magic. But a lot of directors really are not artists and come from the school of "give me a million variations and I'll tell you when I see something I like." That's when CG becomes overly expensive, and that's when you work on a (usually unimportant) shot for months on end, trying to guess what the director would like to see while trying to also keep within the realm of believability and making a good looking shot all at the same time. Meanwhile the story is shit because that particular director is more concerned with looking at effects dailies. So you're then at a point where you've done so many iterations that it's a week from release and you just have to deliver whatever was the last version that the director didn't shit all over and call it done. And then sometimes they just slap you in the balls by cutting the whole thing from the film. It's a blast.

  • Jan. 5, 2012, 8:57 a.m. CST

    re: tears_in_rain - Great post man.. thanks!

    by LargoJr

    goes a lot more into the reasoning behind CGIs use then I had the energy to go into ... Dealing with trolls kind of takes the fun out of it.