Twitter | Search | |
foone
The special effects for the computer-display in the glider from John Carpenter's Escape From New York (1981) are really neat. They're a neat wireframe display of the city, presumably from some kind of radar.
Reply Retweet Like More
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
The neatest part? They're not computer generated. Well, they're partially generated. The overlaid text is, yes, but the actual wireframe? it's a physical model!
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
They made them by making a model of the city painted fully black, then put UV-florescent tape along the edges of the buildings. Lit with a blacklight, you can only see the tape, not the matte-black blocks representing buildings.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
It's amusing given that computer effects were often done because practical effects would be too expensive, this is a case of the opposite: it's 1981, computer graphics would have been more expensive, but they wanted this to look like computer graphics...
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
So they faked computer graphics with practical effects.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
You can get a hint of it being a real model in this clip. Watch the right view, and notice how there are shadows and the light moving. Computer generated wireframes would have neither
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
I've not seen any discussion of it elsewhere, but I think there's more going on here than is usually explained. See, I think this is the last of the practical-standing-in-for-computer shots.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
Cause this is the next one, and I think they switched to actual computer graphics for this one. Notice the shapes on the right? they're hollow, rather than hidden-line like you'd have with real models. The lines are also thinner.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
Then one more shot of computer graphics. Notice how the vertical line on the left moves at the end? that's supposed to be the side of the screen, whoops... I think they're moving/zooming a camera pointing at a screen
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
This does make sense. There's earlier computer graphics in the film. So I think maybe they did final wireframe scene as a computer-generated test, then switched to the practical version when they realized it would be too complex/expensive to do the whole sequence that way.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
But at the same time, it's done, so why not put it in the film anyway?
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
Here's a picture of what the model looked like when lit normally. From
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
Here's another picture of it, showing the scale:
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
BTW, the special effects wizard who did this was John C. Wash, who did another computer-generated animation in a film that you definitely saw. This one!
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
BTW, did you ever notice that that animation has the "dish" of the death star placed on the equator, which isn't where it is on the actual model?
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
This is because the animator was going off this concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, which was an earlier design. By the time it'd been changed, there was no time left to re-render the animation. So it's wrong in the final film (even the remastered versions!)
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
re-rendering was expensive back in the 80s. Computers were slow. Like, there was a problem discovered when rendering this complex computer-generated shot from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). But you probably can't see it at this resolution...
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
It's in this section. The effect of the mountains rising up had a minor issue: they couldn't really preview the effect until they'd rendered it, and rendering it took a very long time.
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
And right around when they'd rendered up to this point, they realized that the camera was going to hit the mountain ahead. Whoops! But changing the layout would mean they'd have to re-render HUNDREDS of frames! that would take forever. Unless...
Reply Retweet Like
foone Nov 24
Replying to @Foone
They applied a manual override to the generated mountains and just sort of magic a valley into existence over the course of two frames, and the camera magically flies right through it.
Reply Retweet Like