Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

1977 Star Wars Computer Graphics

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the real-time-racing-it-is-not dept.

Sci-Fi 271

Noryungi writes "The interestingly named 'Topless Robot' has a real trip down memory lane: how the computer graphics of the original Star Wars movie were made. The article points to this YouTube video of a short documentary made by Larry Cuba, the original artist, that explains how he did it. In 1977."

cancel ×

271 comments

Hollywood ? (0, Troll)

middlemen (765373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146052)

George Look Arse presents
STAR WHORES

starring
Topless Robot

Re:Hollywood ? (2, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146114)

First post, and you still got modded redundant. :(

Re:Hollywood ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146148)

George Lucas smokes poles.

Just like Hitler.

Re:Hollywood ? (-1, Offtopic)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146314)

By "poles" did you mean the Polish people, or penises?

Re:Hollywood ? (-1, Offtopic)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146434)

Maybe he meant Polish penises?

Re:Hollywood ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147116)

Maybe he meant penises substituting for Polish sausages on the grill! Yummm......

Re:Hollywood ? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147064)

Godwin

NOT the original graphics! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146138)

Don't believe these lies.

The wireframe of the death star did not shoot first in the original.

Re:NOT the original graphics! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147316)

How star wars iv should have ended

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzoeEdW-EDQ/ [youtube.com]

amazing... (2, Funny)

NeoStrider_BZK (1485751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146162)

...even for todays standards...

Pretty Sweet (1)

DesertJazz (656328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146204)

This is a pretty sweet video, if you think about how out of the box some of this was at the time it makes it even cooler. (Sad to think a calculator I used in high school could have done this easier...)

Re:Pretty Sweet (1)

DesertJazz (656328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146282)

Take back what I said about calculators... those dials are pretty sweet. And he didn't do it solely on math like I thought he would have.

Re:Pretty Sweet (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147810)

No he drew almost-everything by hand, tracing the photographs of the models. I thought it was interesting it took the computer 2 minutes to display just 1/24th second of the animation. Slow and time-consuming.

~3 years later computers could do these graphics in realtime:
http://www.thelogbook.com/phosphor/video/batlzone.swf [thelogbook.com]

Re:Pretty Sweet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147768)

Another cool thing about this particular Youtube channel is that some of the historical vids talk about the Zgrass hardware, which I believe was related to the Zgrass-32 Bally Astrocade add-on.

I don't know if they ever actually released the Zgrass add-on though; it may have been vaporware.

Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Interesting)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146216)

Wow, that's nice to have the dials to manipulate 3D objects. Is there anything like that which someone can buy today?

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (1)

The Joe Kewl (532609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146286)

Yes. I think it's called a mouse.

Really, you could just use the mouse wheel combined with a single key modifier (hold a key on the keyboard) that would rotate whatever plane (X/Y/Z) you wanted when you spun your mouse wheel.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146396)

You must be a programmer...

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146534)

Yes my ancient 1985 Amiga at just 7 megahertz has a pirate demo like that. It showed a 3D rabbit, and you could spin him in any direction using just your mouse and the right button. It was impressive in the 80s.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Interesting)

Franklin Brauner (1034220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146476)

You could buy a vintage Battlezone, the first FPS, designed in 1979 by Ed Rotberg for Atari. It's an elegant design. No dials, but the control schema of the sticks are beautiful to behold. Most of the XY technology used in those early Atari vector machines are nearly identical to the tech described in this video. The math required for real time manipulation of XY displays is far simpler than what Jim Blinn was doing around the same time. He was a wizard for sure.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146596)

Battlezone on the lowly 1 megahertz Atari VCS (1977) - I like the cool effects when the tank blows up. It's also very colorful for an ancient 70s game (128 colors)

http://www.atariguide.com//ss/batlzone.gif [atariguide.com]

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146954)

Battlezone on the lowly 1 megahertz Atari VCS (1977) - I like the cool effects when the tank blows up. It's also very colorful for an ancient 70s game (128 colors)

That's nice, but the Battlezone Franklin was talking about is the vector graphic original, not the cheap raster graphic VCS knockoff.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147846)

I thought that the Battlezone which Franklin was talking about involved fighting kites.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147576)

Flash movie of Battlezone Arcade in action: http://www.thelogbook.com/pdfmedia/1980/battlezone/ [thelogbook.com] - Atarisoft version on C=64: http://www.lemon64.com/games/screenshots/full/b/battlezone_02.gif [lemon64.com]

Other vector-based games: http://www.thelogbook.com/phosphor/category/arcade/vector/ [thelogbook.com]

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Informative)

Suicyco (88284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146536)

Those were common in early cadd systems, they didn't have a mouse. They used digitizing tables and 3d inputs like you see in the video.

I would have liked to know more about the technology, not just how he did it with "a computer". What cadd package was it? What hardware?

Most likely something from Unigraphics or Intergraph, as those were big 3d modeling packages of the era.

Nowadays 3d inputs are easier with spaceballs and a simple mouse, or a 3d mouse.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146838)

Wow, that's nice to have the dials to manipulate 3D objects. Is there anything like that which someone can buy today?

Until about 2002 or so (about when SGI tanked), most of the high-end 3D systems supported MIDI devices as controllers. You could plug in a MIDI knob or slider box and connect it up to the joints of your character. For some reason, few people do that any more. Support for that never really caught on when 3D moved to the PC, even though MIDI devices were cheap.

The Jurassic Park guys had a small dinosaur skeleton model with sensors at the joints wired up to a MIDI interface, so they could pose the thing and the animation would follow. That sort of thing was popular around 1995-2000 because it required little retraining for stop-motion animators.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (4, Funny)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147142)

I just imagine manipulating 3d graphics with a casio pg-380 midi guitar.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147422)

i laughed. mod this one funny.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147650)

Computational power grew fast enough where you could do real-time inverse kinematics. The artist just has to move the end of the 'chain' of joints and the math handles the rest. A lot easier than trying to manage all of the joints explicitly with external hardware interfaces - and cheaper!

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (2, Informative)

CityZen (464761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146852)

You can get a bunch of these: http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermate/ [griffintechnology.com]

These used to be common, long ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dial_box [wikipedia.org]

The "3Dmouse" mentioned above is not a dial. It is a puck that's spring-loaded to stay centered.
You cannot rotate it freely, so it is a relative control and not an absolute control.

Re:Dials for manipulating 3D objects (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147446)

Wow, that's nice to have the dials to manipulate 3D objects. Is there anything like that which someone can buy today?

Yeah, here [amazon.com] .

This is how... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146254)

After Effects

Alpha version of course...

Star Wars sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146262)

Everyone knows that Star Trek is better.

Star Trek sucks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146556)

Everyone knows that Babylon 5 is better.

Re:Star Trek sucks (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146704)

Everyone knows that Firefly is way better.

Re:Firefly sucks (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147720)

V is better.

Re:Star Trek sucks (1, Funny)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147638)

Oh, come now. Everyone knows that Babylon 5 is a big pile of shit.

yeah (5, Funny)

MagicM (85041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146326)

The interestingly named "Topless Robot"

*click*

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146916)

yeah, I was disappointed too

Re:yeah (2, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147496)

It would just be schematics.

Droidmaker (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146386)

If you like this, you'll love the book "Droidmaker"

http://www.droidmaker.com/contents.html

Another freakin' story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146416)

about Star Wars was posted on tech website Slashdot today. The story garnered a great deal of interest.

In other news, there are ongoing rumors in the entertainment industry that producer George Lucas is nearing bankruptcy. A Lucas Arts spokesperson declined comment.

2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (5, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146456)

The space-ship consoles show CAD-drawings the ship aligning with landing pads. Also the astronauts debugging the supposedly broker communication module used graphics. Only these was faked with drafted animation cells because computer graphics wasnt advanced enough in the 1960s to this. There were only osilliscope vector graphics then. But Kubrick and advisers like Minsky were anticipating better graphics in the future.

Re:2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (5, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146592)

That's right, kids: no computers were used in the making of "2001". Pretty remarkable.

It's ironic: in "2001" (the movie) Kubrick had to use analog methods to simulate digital technology. But by 2001 (the year), filmmakers were using digital technology to simulate analog objects. [imdb.com]

Re:2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146694)

Dinosaurs are variable signals that are continuous in time and amplitude? Huh?

Re:2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146740)

The last SF movie claiming to be made with totally analog eFX was Bladerunner [cinefex.com] . Now *that* was film making.

Re:2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146794)

IIRC, Bladerunner was made using StudioMAX. At least judging by the captures in my StudioMAX 2 ref manuals.

Analog Computers (5, Interesting)

ei4anb (625481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147482)

John Whitney did use computers for the into-the-monolith scene, one of the first computer graphics scenes in movies. However he used analog computers and he has been credited with being the person who introduced computer effects into the film industry. Daisy was sung by a digital computer.

The first digital computer I programmed was an IBM 1800 built in 1966 (and was donated to our university in 1975 where I got my hands on it) so I well know the level of computer power available when 2001 ASO was filmed. Back then analog computers were more suitable than digital computers for many real world tasks. Anyone studying computer science then was expected to be able to build an analog circuit to solve differential equations for example, that way was faster than the digital methods at the time. It would have taken quite a while to render a movie scene with the 4K that was left of the 1800's RAM after the compiler/runtime was loaded.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Get off my lawn!

Re:2001 Space Odyssey "computer graphics" (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147492)

My personal favorite substitute for expensive early computer graphics was in Escape from New York [wikipedia.org] . To do the sequence where Snake is gliding into New York and looking at a computer generated wireframe of the city; James Cameron simply cut out a bunch of boxes, painted the lines on them with phosphorescent paint, and shot it in the dark.

Better Then CGI (4, Insightful)

doroshjt (1044472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146496)

CGI has ruined movies, they are so in your face that you can't enjoy the movie. What made the original star wars great was the animitronics for all the characters instead of jar jar binks super imposed cartoon characters.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146598)

Jar Jar Binks is indeed more fitting for a Benny Hill [youtube.com] bit.

Re:Better Then CGI (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146684)

Agreed. Look at the Hitchhiker's Guide movie. The scenes where the Vogons are done with puppetry are amazing, the scenes where they're CGI are 'meh'. Same goes for the original Alien vs the A v P movies, as soon as I see CGI (especially for characters/animals) the emotion center of my brain says 'nope' and shuts down.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146722)

Without CGI the tv show Babylon 5 could have never been made (too many war scenes) for the cheap cost that WB could afford (half Star Trek's budget).

Other shows that likely wouldn't exist in the format we got are the New Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG1, SGA, SGU with their numerous space battle. Instead we'd have something like Buck Rogers or Space 1999 that barely have any space scenes at all, due to the cost of models being too high. i.e. Claustrophobic.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146754)

Don't mind the GP. He just wants people off his lawn. He's one of those people who will try to claim that it wasn't blatantly obvious that most of the time that the animatronic was a puppet and not a real thing.

Re:Better Then CGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147450)

Don't mind the GP. He just wants people off his lawn. He's one of those people who will try to claim that it wasn't blatantly obvious that most of the time that the animatronic was a puppet and not a real thing.

Actually, his apsberger's only allows him to relate emotionally to puppets, welcome to slashdot...

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147472)

You don't think a puppet is a real thing?

It was obviously a puppet. Just as obviously, it exists. Just as most CGI obviously doesn't. Neither effect can really be mistaken for the actual object they're representing, but at least the puppet is tangible, striking better emotional cues amongst the other actors and the audience.

Re:Better Then CGI (2, Insightful)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147642)

but at least the puppet is tangible, striking better emotional cues amongst the other actors and the audience.

Uhh yeah. Because if Jar Jar Binks was a puppet instead of CGI he somehow would have been less unfunny and annoying?

Re:Better Then CGI (2, Insightful)

Big_Monkey_Bird (620459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146834)

Funny about Space 1999. the scariest thing I ever saw on TV as a kid was the monster in Dragon's Den. I used to have nightmares. Seeing it years later, it was just a flashlight and foam rubber.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Xcruciate (261968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147656)

Man, you are so right about that. For many, many years that made a lasting impression on me. I couldn't wait for Space:1999 to be released on DVD so I could find out what episode that was. I had only seen that episode that one time, scared the living hell out of me. I suppose I was bout six or seven at the time.

Re:Better Then CGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147102)

Talking about SG1 - why did they replace the intro with the close-ups of a "real" gate with a CGI version that looks like it was made for the pilot - and was rejected. Don't tell me it was to comment on the introduction of Ben Browder and the Ori.

Re:Better Then CGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147244)

maybe less focus on effects = more focus on making the rest of the movie good.

Re:Better Then CGI (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147486)

Without CGI the tv show Babylon 5 could have never been made (too many war scenes) for the cheap cost that WB could afford (half Star Trek's budget).

There's a big difference between using CGI for exterior shots (cheaper than models and looks fine; models and CGI both look better if you spend more time on them, but CGI looks better for the same investment) and using CGI for interior shots. Babylon 5 used it for backdrops on a few shots, but most of the sets were full of props. The newer Star Wars films had almost nothing except green boxes in the sets and added everything else later. In Babylon 5, all of the aliens used props. If they couldn't make realistic props, they made sure that you only saw part of the alien and only for a second or so. In Star Wars and AVP, they used CGI aliens everywhere.

Re:Better Then CGI (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146746)

What made the original star wars great was the animitronics for all the characters instead of jar jar binks super imposed cartoon characters.

What made JarJar obnoxious was not how his image was created for the film. That's like blaming YouTube for the abundance of noisy idiots on-line.

Re:Better Then CGI (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147340)

No, AOL was to blame for that.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Math.sqrt(-1) (1574847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146796)

Totally agreeing with you there. The thing that made the original Star Wars Trilogy so spectacular was not the special effects, but the story. Sure, the special effects were incredible for the time (and are still pretty damned impressive these 30 years later), but a lot of movies using "state of the art" special effects failed to achieve anything near that status and acclaim of any of the original Trilogy films (think Tron). But now it's worse than ever. These days, with the advent of relatively inexpensive CGI effects, directors and producers can focus more on creating dazzling eye candy without paying much attention to the quality of the script. I'm starting to sound somewhat curmudgeonly now, aren't I?

Re:Better Then CGI (3, Insightful)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147592)

Even if there was no CGI used in the prequels they still would have sucked. Jar Jar wouldn't be less annoying and less unfunny had it been an animatronic. Hayden Christiansen's stilted acting would have still sucked had the environments not been CGI rendered scenes. The midichlorian angle would still have been stupid. The failings of the prequel trilogy had almost nothing to do with the CGI and all to do with a poorly written story with piss-poor acting by many of the main actors. Using animatronics and non-digital effects wouldn't have somehow made this different.

Re:Better Then CGI (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146872)

>CGI has ruined movies

Are you kidding? Yoda looks like a rag doll in the originals. The cantina puppets are pretty bad and Jabba's palace is a B-quality muppet showcase. If anything, CGI is producing a seamlessness that is impossible with the old techniques.

If you cannot suspend your disbelief then thats your problem, not anyone else's.

>jar jar binks super imposed cartoon characters.

Thats an implementation issue, not a technological one. There's tons of CGI in those movies that looks amazing. In fact, I suspect its so good you dont even know its CGI. Blame Lucas and his people for skimping out when it came to their ridiculous Jamaican amphibian. If anything, it was probably a design decision to make JarJar look more cartoony and less realistic than the other CGI.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147088)

Are you kidding? Yoda looks like a rag doll in the originals. The cantina puppets are pretty bad and Jabba's palace is a B-quality muppet showcase. If anything, CGI is producing a seamlessness that is impossible with the old techniques.

Exactly. These people try to claim that puppets and animatronics were so realistic and yet you go back to watch those old movies and it's laughable at how fake they looked.

Re:Better Then CGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147172)

If you cannot suspend your disbelief then thats your problem, not anyone else's.

You're accusing the guy who prefers puppets of not being able to suspend disbelief?

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147238)

The point isn't that you are trying for the most photorealistic aliens ever. The point is, Yoda is a space alien who is also a Buddhist master who is also a muppet! (The muppets used to be quite popular, despite looking like rag dolls, they had their own TV show with its own little culture, and at the time it was quite witty and groundbreaking to have a muppet playing a straight role in an otherwise conventional fantasy movie.) I don't remember anyone complaining about the cantina aliens because, let's face it, what are aliens supposed to look like, anyway?

The real issue is that people like Jim Henson were masters of their trade. Today, any idiot can fire up some software and make an alien who looks 100x "better" than Yoda. However, the mastery isn't there, and it's obvious to everyone except those to whom newer means better.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147292)

The real issue is that people like Jim Henson were masters of their trade. Today, any idiot can fire up some software and make an alien who looks 100x "better" than Yoda. However, the mastery isn't there, and it's obvious to everyone except those to whom newer means better.

Implying that there were no people who were working with puppets in the 70s that weren't master puppeteers. Secondly, any idiot has been able to fire up software since the 80s and make badly done CGI. What's your point supposed to be?

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147370)

Blame Lucas and his people for skimping out when it came to their ridiculous Jamaican amphibian. If anything, it was probably a design decision to make JarJar look more cartoony and less realistic than the other CGI.

I'd go along with that... these are the same people who decided that the definitive battle of the 3rd movie should take place on Endor rather than Kashyyk as originally planned.... Oh, and while we're at it, let's cut the Wookiee in half. I mean, seriously... taking out an AT-ST by throwing rocks at it?

Jar Jar was an attempt to appeal to a younger audience. And y'know what? I knew a whole bunch of 4-year olds who absolutely adored the character at the time.

That said, I think his point was that over-reliance on CGI has led to a decline in the quality of the scripts that studios end up making. Why blow the budget on writers when the audience has shown, time and again, that they will just as easily part with their money for special effects? Coupled with a general tendency against taking risks with scripts, and you can see the general quality of movies being made has gone *way* downhill over the last 30 years. But I'd argue that while CGI has been a contributing factor to that decline, it's also been a contributing factor to some of the really high quality work that's been done, too. Done well, CGI compliments the work in question.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147420)

That said, I think his point was that over-reliance on CGI has led to a decline in the quality of the scripts that studios end up making. Why blow the budget on writers when the audience has shown, time and again, that they will just as easily part with their money for special effects? Coupled with a general tendency against taking risks with scripts, and you can see the general quality of movies being made has gone *way* downhill over the last 30 years. But I'd argue that while CGI has been a contributing factor to that decline, it's also been a contributing factor to some of the really high quality work that's been done, too. Done well, CGI compliments the work in question.

Because there were never movies made that heavily relied on special effects over story before the use of CGI? You must be kidding. You're viewing the world through rose-tinted nostalgia glasses. There were plenty of crappy movies made during the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s that never used any CGI effects.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147710)

I am pretty sure Jar Jar would have sucked even more as a muppet.

Re:Better Then CGI (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147000)

CGI has ruined movies, they are so in your face that you can't enjoy the movie

It's not just the graphics, it's the film-making.

Did you notice on this one how the initial shots of the Death Star graphics are a wide shot showing all the pilots slouching around listening to the briefing? That was the point, not the graphics.

Today they would have framed that shot tight on the graphics with the speaker on one side. But by not focusing on the graphics they're more powerful - in this universe, it's just commonplace, nothing that needs highlighting (until the detail is small enough that the audience wouldn't be able to follow, so they zoom in then). To somebody watching in 1977 the effect is heightened.

The point here is the briefing and the reactions of those assembled to highlight just how ridiculous and impossible (without an assist from the "more powerful than you can possibly imagine" Ben Kenobi) the task is. But they're going to try anyway because humans fight to be free.

Re:Better Then CGI (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147048)

Gollum was pretty good, IMO.

Re:Better Then CGI (1, Troll)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147304)

How on earth is this modded Troll? I personally agree with the sentiment. Physical effects and good old fashioned compositing almost always create a more compelling, stylized look. The ingenuity and reality involved in creating such effects is far more impressive, if you ask me. Hell, Ghostbusters is 25 years old, and I still think the special effects are phenomenal.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147348)

good old fashioned compositing almost always create a more compelling, stylized look

Actually pretty much all people doing SFX were happy when digital compositing became viable because optical compositing had some many downsides. Blurry picture, exaggerated grain structure, and all sorts of other generational loss that came from optical compositing were not beloved as "stylized looks".

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147366)

What made the original star wars great was the animitronics for all the characters instead of jar jar binks super imposed cartoon characters.

Because Jar-Jar would have ceased to be utteryly annoying if it had been an animatronic instead of CGI? You're seriously claiming that?

Re:Better Then CGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147484)

I'm not sure how CGI itself has ruined movies and I also have a hard time seeing as to how animatronics would have noticeably improved the prequel triology.

I think the interesting thing in this video is the CGI and other special effects seemed almost like an after-thought for the original Star Wars, "Hey, what special-effects can we throw in for the big ending scene we have planned with the death star?". Like they already had the story and character's roles mostly worked out and added the effects on top. For the newer films it seems like this was entirely reversed, almost like Lucasfilm had this big reputation they built up over the years based mainly on special effects and didn't want to risk losing it.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147544)

Exactly. Even if the prequels didn't use a single bit of CGI they still would have sucked. Jar Jar Binks still would have been annoying and unfunny. CGI is just used as a convenient excuse by old Star Wars fans for the fact that their messiah George Lucas pushed out a trilogy of shitty prequel movies.

Re:Better Then CGI (1)

ErkDemon (1202789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147646)

Naah. What made EpIV stand out was that the characters were animated by actors and technicians rather than by puppetteers.

In the later films, "Original Yoda" looked and sounded too much like Fozzie Bear, and moved just like a like a muppet.
"Fozzie Bear am I, muppet am I being". Pah.

Had the exaggerrated theatricality that some puppeteers get off on, which was fine on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, but on a "realistic" film just amounts to really hammy acting. You know the thing, where every action is loudly flagged in advance by a set of overblown prequel movements. Walking over to a chair and sitting on it becomes a bloody mime-artist performance. For me, that totally destroyed any illusion that you were looking at a real creature. You can't blame CGI for the Ewoks, either.

IMO, "Episode III" Yoda was way better than the Hensonised version. "EpIII Yoda" acted everyone else off the screen.

JarJar Binks and the buzzing fly thing in the early episodes weren't crappy because they were CGI, they were crappy because they were badly written, played on crude and offensive ethnic stereotypes (a "Jamaican" stereotype for lazy JJB and a "Jewish" stereotype for the loansharking fly thing with the big nose), used cartoonish "pantomime" acting and were there as caricatures rather than as proper characters. It didn't matter whether you got puppeteers to animate them as mechanical puppets or as CGI - with the same script and direction they'd have been just as crap.

Now if you'd mentioned Chewbacca, THERE was a non-CGI alien that you could believe in. Guy in a suit. But an actual actor, NOT a marionettist. When Chewie stomped across a room or scratched his arse, or growled at someone, it wasn't some puppeteer trying to produce the ultimate stylised ballet performance.

Plus it probably helped that Chewie didn't have any George Lucas dialogue. Same thing for Artoo.

Looker (1)

British (51765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146828)

Looker came out in 1980, and that featured some cool wireframe models of humans. IIRC it also had textures. Not sure if it was entirely CGI, but it looked wonderful nonetheless.

Re:Looker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147400)

Looker came out in 1980, and that featured some cool wireframe models of humans. IIRC it also had textures. Not sure if it was entirely CGI, but it looked wonderful nonetheless

No dude, Looker was cool, but Susan Dey [imdb.com] is what looked wonderful!

Re:Looker (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147580)

Looker was also way ahead of its time in foreseeing a future where it was possible to have all-digital productions where the actors were just CGI'ed in. Now we're seeing the unfortunate results with dead celebs trying to sell me vacuum cleaners (Fred Astaire, I'm looking at you bud).

I used one of those (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146876)

I had a job around 1990 using a digitizing pad. I used one of those four button mice that had the wire ring around cross-hairs that I would put over the point I wanted to capture. Very cool to see something like that again. Ah, the memories.

Re:I used one of those (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147062)

I'm very envious. Ten years after this guy's work I spent some time writing a (lesser) version of the trench graphics sequence in Turbo Pascal. I derived all the coordinates from sketches on graph paper. :)

OK, so that was about the extent of my budget too.

Slashdot Scooped (0)

vtTom (591066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146930)

Slashdot was scooped by Digg on this 1.5yrs ago: http://digg.com/movies/Making_of_the_Computer_Graphics_for_Star_Wars_Episode_IV [digg.com]

Re:Slashdot Scooped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147082)

Oh yes we all follow both these websites religiously and remember every little story that popped up a year and a half ago.

To some people this is the first time they saw it.

You actually took the time to say this? Really? Why would you do that? In your logic slashdot can not dupe ANYTHING ever and now needs to follow all the other websites out there and not dupe them. Get real...

I understand a dupe within a week maybe a month. But from a year and a half ago? I think we can let that one slide...

Re:Slashdot Scooped (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147098)

Wow everyone knows that slashdot is behind the times, but a year and a half? That's gotta be a record.

Light sword vs light pen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30146970)

This proves that real Jedi's do not use a light sword but a light pen.
Thank you for clearing that up.

May the force be with you!

Ah yes... (4, Funny)

mr_josh (1001605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30146980)

... I remember DirectX 7 quite well.

Vector vs Raster graphics (5, Informative)

AlejoHausner (1047558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147302)

The reason Larry Cuba could do real-time rendering in 1976 was that he was using a vector graphics display (http://www.cca.org/vector/). In a vector display, there are no pixels. There is no video RAM. Instead, there is a list of (x y) pairs (a list of positions on the screen, each with an off/on flag). The controller simply loops through the list over and over: the (x y) are fed to digital-to-analog converters, which drive the left/right and up/down deflectors for the CRT's electron beam. The on/off flags turn the beam on and off. In other words, it's just a big oscilloscope, with the signal replaced by a list of numbers. The longer the list, the more time it takes to traverse it and draw it, the lower the refresh rate, and the greater the flicker.

If you stick to black and white, you don't need a CRT mask to separately illuminate the red, green and blue phosphor dots. Without this mask, you can get some very sharp images.

If Cuba were using pixels instead, he would have needed megabytes to hold an image. I doubt anyone could afford a megabyte. Moreover, I doubt that in 1976 the electronics was fast enough to even read an image's bytes and turn it into a CRT signal. And that's just displaying the image on the screen. To create the image in the first place, he would have needed, for each line segment, to fill in all the pixels from endpoint to endpoint. There's no way he could have filled that many pixels in real time. But with a vector display, filling is done by the movement of the electron beam, and costs you zero computation.

Alejo

Re:Vector vs Raster graphics (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147854)

In other words, it's just a big oscilloscope, with the signal replaced by a list of numbers. The longer the list, the more time it takes to traverse it and draw it, the lower the refresh rate, and the greater the flicker.

Since you obviously know a lot more about this than I, I'm curious: I had a graphics workstation from the early 1980's, and the monitor had a panel that was filled with tiny adjustment knobs, that allowed me to adjust the x/y for individual sections of the screen so straight lines were actually straight. Your comment about 'the longer the list' makes me wonder if that monitor had 9 different electron guns rather than just one, since it was (for the times) a huge screen and the obvious way to deal with the long-list-slow-refresh is to add multiple guns.

What Lucus Didn't Change (3, Interesting)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147332)

From the article:

And it reminds me of something -- when the Star Wars special editions were about to come out in '97, I was certain that Lucas was going to redo those computer effects, like from the Rebel briefing and on the Millennium Falcon's display during the TIE Fighter dogfight. Dead certain, because if anything dated the Star Wars movies (besides Hamill's hair) it was the computer effects.

Quite true. In fact, the original model effects of the whole battle still look pretty good, but other parts of the movie are quite dated, and not all of them were changed in the new versions. Another example is Yoda's death scene, where the muppet disappears and sheet slowly falls into the unoccupied space. It's an obvious piece of stop motion animation, and I'm surprised Lucas didn't redo it in CGI in some of the newer remakes of Star Wars (the ones where Han shoots at the same time). He already had a Yoda computer model by then from the prequels, which is half the work done right there.

Seen it (1)

leamanc (961376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147600)

Great video, but I find it hard to believe that Star Wars/computer nerds are just now discovering this. I saw it a year and a half ago--the YouTube upload date is two years ago (November 20, 2007).

So, what was the machine? (2, Interesting)

RedMage (136286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30147784)

Larry said he wrote the software to do the combining of the primitives for the trench, but what was the hardware? I've used E&S consoles similar to those, but those were VAX driven, which wasn't an option in 1976. The terminal looked similar to a VT05, but that was just an impression while watching.

Larry Cuba's comments on the video (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30147826)

Taken from Motionographer [motionographer.com]

Greetings all.

I have a few comments about this post:

The Video:

This “making of” video was originally produced for my personal presentations as I was often asked to explain the process (back in the 70s and 80s when it was still obscure). Lucasfilm was vigilant in protecting its copyrighted material but OK’d this video at the time, since i had no intention of distributing it. (although copies apparently escaped) I wonder what they would say, now that the EVL in Chicago has resurrected it (after 30 years!) and posted it on YouTube.

The YouTube link to “Calculated Movements”:

It should be noted that this video is an *excerpt* from the film, posted by the EVL.I also posted my ‘official’ excerpt here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH0MXZ-T4Js [youtube.com]

Some day soon, all of my films will be available on DVD. They should be projected large, if possible as scale is important when you’re dealing with visual perception.

Those who are interested, should watch my site for news, or sign my guestbook and I’ll notify you when it’s released.
http://www.well.com/~cuba/ [well.com]

Thanks for the attention.

Regards,

Larry Cuba

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...