Friday, March 21, 2008

3D before 3D

We're so used to seeing computer graphics everywhere that we no longer notice them, except when they're really awful. But lots of visuals that are now made with CG used to be done the hard way with bits of wood, metal and plastic. The video below is a Behind the scenes 10-minute featurette from 1983 that shows how the HBO Introduction was created. While the use of miniatures isn't surprising (it's still widely used today in special effects), I really liked the fact that a flying, shiny metallic logo at that time was actually built in chrome-plated brass that "flew" over a black table. Also notable are the star blast effect (two sheets of semi-transparent plastic moving on top of each other) and the meteor shower effects (a bunch of rotating, colored optic fibers).

Today, a trained 3D artist could do all that, and possibly faster, on a comparatively cheap desktop machine, but the practical ingenuity displayed by the HBO effects crew is still amazing.




Blogger Dan said...

I have a feeling before long, the public is going to start hungering for "real" 3-D effects in films, made with wire, wood, dirt and clay. And real stuntmen! When it comes to the point where any 12-year-old kid on a computer can do it, the special effect is no longer "special"...

March 21, 2008 4:35 PM  
Blogger Gilles said...

I haven't seen (yet) Be kind rewind but it's already inspiring people to experiment with "sweded" films where million-dollar CGI are replaced with cardboard cutouts, strings and toy models. I'm not sure there's a trend there but it's still amusing, perhaps an indicator that the CGI craze is somehow on the wane.

March 21, 2008 5:11 PM  

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