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Author Topic:   Best FX - The Matrix
Joe Tracy
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Posts: 595
From:Carpinteria, CA
Registered: Sep 1999

posted March 26, 2000 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Tracy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now that the Academy Awards are over what is your opinion of "The Matrix" beating out "Star Wars: Episode 1" for "Best Visual Effects?" I know some people who think this is a travesty and others who think that "Star Wars: Episode 1" was so poorly directed and executed that it didn't deserve any awards. What do you think?

Joe Tracy

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go-go
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From:Orlando, FL USA
Registered: Oct 1999

posted March 26, 2000 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for go-go     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...jar jar binks WAS a travesty...

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Mike2D
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From:Valley Glen, Ca., U.S.A
Registered: Oct 1999

posted March 26, 2000 11:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike2D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm personally glad the Matrix won over Episode one. Part of deal with good visual effects is to pull the audience into the story and keeping their suspension of disbelief. The Matrix was terrific because it used a variety of tecniques to create...if you'd like to call it this, a live action Anime film. And there were scenes that blew people away (like the rotating camera effects) The problem with Star Wars was that the CG effects were overbearing. From the very first scene, it was one computer generated image after another, and it was completely overkill. Sure, the animation looked great, but I couldn't stop thinking that I was watching something done on a computer. It just didn't seem believeble. And to tell you the truth, I think the model work in the other star wars films looked much more realistic than Episode I.

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wonderdog
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From:the ranch in medina, tx
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posted March 27, 2000 09:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wonderdog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that the Matrix had more innovative CG than Star Wars. The Star Wars effects were good, but nothing too new. And yes Jar Jar was annoying, but he was modeled nicely.

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Suzy Creamcheese
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From:Washington, DC, USA
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posted March 27, 2000 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Suzy Creamcheese     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could compose a long list of complains about Episode I but I won't since I'm sure that's was already covered in excruciating detail months and months ago. But I would like to throw out my thought about the effects angle.

I thought the CG effects in Episode I were—for the most part—very good. But when you add them all together, what did they all amount to? Funny looking aliens, strange looking alien worlds, light saber duels, and an environment which is both high-tech and kind of dirty/junky at the same time. My point is, yes, the effects were fine, but they just reproduced things that Lucas can introduced twenty years before.

The Matrix, on the other hand, took you to a place no movie's been before, and did so by postulating the idea that "reality" isn't "real." Don't get me wrong, I thought there were some weak elements in the Matrix, but I thought the originality of the story's premise and the way the effects were used to let you peek "behind the curtain" of existence, were what came together to make the film a hit. Oh, and the terrific marital arts scenes too!

Come to think of it, I never saw those "Lawnmower Man" movies from a few years back, which also dealt with cyberspace and virtual reality I believe, so I may be wrong regarding the originality of the Matrix plot. Luckily that doesn't alter the fact that The Matrix is a fine action/scifi film, and certainly deserving of recognition.

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wonderdog
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From:the ranch in medina, tx
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posted March 27, 2000 12:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wonderdog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have read and seen movies with the exact same premise as the Matrix, though it was one of the best versions. Maybe with the next two installments of the story, we'll see something more original.

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Suzy Creamcheese
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From:Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted March 27, 2000 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Suzy Creamcheese     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wonderdog: what films were you thinking of? Are there any that you'd recommend?

I tried racking my brain, but was (obviously) unsuccessful. Oddly enough, one of the films that did come to mind was "Altered States"—--not that it had anything to do with virtual reality and the human race being enslaved, I was thinking just in the vein of a story about someone discovering a different "level" of reality.

My film going has been really sporadic for the last several years, so I very easily could have missed something and am always grateful when someone can turn me onto something new and interesting. Thanks!

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bighead72
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From:Indianapolis, IN
Registered: Jan 2000

posted March 27, 2000 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bighead72     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you guys are missing the true difficulty behind making the digital "funny looking aliens".

Jar-Jar Binks, annoying or not, was amazing to watch. He had musculature, skin texture, fabric clothing, realistic movement. All of these things are extremely difficult things to animate digitally. It shows what amazing leaps and strides have been made within just the last couple years.

Jar-Jar, for all intents and purposes, is a supporting actor in the movie (more than just a one-time effect & not interchanged with robotic or puppet effects). The closest comparison I can think of before Episode 1 was "Toy Story". In the first movie, the human characters and the dog were animated very poorly. Their clothes looked like they were made out of thick rubber sheets -- not fabric. Their faces were plastic and the dog looked like it was made of parts (torso, legs, head, snout).

Jar-Jar's animation was almost completely opposite. Like it or not, Jar-Jar represents an era where actors can be digitally created for a "live-action" movie.

In my opinion, "The Matrix" was the one with the lack of truly innovative visual effects. Sure it looked cool at the time, but now every other commercial on TV does the same thing.

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JDWeil
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From:Lodi, NJ, USA
Registered: Sep 1999

posted March 27, 2000 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JDWeil     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Jar-Jar Binks may have won the Razzie, but George Lucas is going to put him into the next episode of "Star Wars", so consider yourselves warned.

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go-go
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From:Orlando, FL USA
Registered: Oct 1999

posted March 27, 2000 04:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for go-go     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
i knew that jar jar comment would be controversial! i agree that he had good modeling and was a big step towards 'digital actors', but the animation wasn't all great. he kept moving all the time; never stopping to rest. he suffers from 'overanimation', something that the pixar characters don't have.

like suzy creamcheese (btw, i just love saying your name!), i think that "the matrix" created a new world, universe, and premise and it's because it's so new and groundbreaking that the academy liked it; much like the original "star wars: a new hope". the 'star wars' universe is pretty much created already, we're now only seeing backstory. don't get me wrong, i liked "episode one"... but i loved "the matrix".

like many, i also thought that lucas would get all the technical awards. i was extremely shocked to see that "the matrix" beat the pants off of the company who's revolutionized special effects and technical wizardry.

how's about "the matrix 2" and "episode 2" squaring off in the 2002 oscars?

[This message has been edited by go-go (edited March 28, 2000).]

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D.E.P
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Posts: 425
From:hull, quebec, canada
Registered: Oct 1999

posted March 27, 2000 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for D.E.P     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree, Jar Jar's animation was not all that great. As go-go said, he was over animated and a real bore to watch, personality included. And the other aliens just plain sucked, especially Boss Nass(?). What was up with the mouth jiggling?

And how could anyone pick Star wars over Matrix anyway? Star Wars had nothing new to offer, and what they did have they overused to death. I mean the best scene of the movie(the light saber finally) used the simplest special effect overall, and it worked great. The other scenes were just jampacked with too many effects and it ruined the mood.

Matrix on the other hand was mind blowing to watch and very innovative. You were totally drawn to the story, and a lot of that was because the fx were so believable, which is something you can't say about Episode 1. Sure, everybody uses the same techniques now, but the makers of The Matrix really did something fresh with them. And who thought two guys who never took martial arts acting in a science fiction movie could produce such original and exciting kung-fu scenes? You need the right people to pull that off!

Oh, and another thing, there's a difference between animating an alien which never existed and trying to reproduce real human movements. I'd like to see ILM try to do it as good as Pixar did in Toy Story2.

Sorry to repeat some of the stuff that was already said...oh well.

[This message has been edited by D.E.P (edited March 27, 2000).]

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sterfish
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From:Chicago IL, USA
Registered: Feb 2000

posted March 27, 2000 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sterfish     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by wonderdog:
I have read and seen movies with the exact same premise as the Matrix, though it was one of the best versions.

quote:
Originally posted by Suzy Creamcheese:
what films were you thinking of?

In terms of movies the one that always sticks out is Dark City. Just like The Matrix the premise involves what we believe as being real is not as real as we think and something sinister is responsible. I thought it was a good movie that was really underrated. It's nothing like The Matrix in style (it's more like a film noir) and has some very cool effects scenes. It came out before The Matrix and after The Matrix came out I enjoyed Dark City even more.

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CZ
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From:CA
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posted March 27, 2000 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember Dark City. I always have the urge to pound my head against something when I remember it wasn't nominated for anything. Not FX, not set design, not sound, not anything.

As for Star Wars VS The Matrix, I think George and Co. did have the most well done set of effects, but the Matrix used what they had much more effectively. And they score extra points for originality. Come on, wasn't anyone else cringing when that two-headed sports announcer showed up? I thought I was watching a bad cereal ad.

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Penanimate
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From:Menlo Park, CA USA
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posted March 28, 2000 12:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Penanimate     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm still cringing just thinking about it...

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Suzy Creamcheese
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From:Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted March 28, 2000 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Suzy Creamcheese     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sterfish, wow, thanks, you are absolutely right about "Dark City." It does have a lot in common with The Matrix. Or at least as much of it as I remember, it was a midnight movie at one of the local theaters so I wasn't in the best of shape when I saw it. But you're right I do think all the themes are there, humans that are captives in an alien experiment and a "reality" which is completely artificial and shifts every evening. Gosh, it is a shame that it didn't get better play, in fact I remember suggesting to my friends that we go back for a second viewing but by the time I persuaded them it had already left town. Very good effects!

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably say also that's I am kind of prejudiced against S.W. Episode One so I may not be judging it fairly. When it's revealed that Anakin Skywalker is the produce of a virgin birth (where have I heard that before?) And how the Jedi's ability to harness the force is the result of some substance in their blood (or whatever it was), I just felt.... I don't know, like the plot was getting too contrived. Which maybe isn't a fair criticism—-anyway, this is kind of off the topic so I don't want to tax the patience of our generous moderator. Cheers everyone!

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*acme*
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Posts: 102
From:Encinitas CA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted March 28, 2000 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for *acme*     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had read an article with lucas discusing how star wars was not to be about the effects. He even said people might be disapointed. He said it was first and for most about the story(although in this post seems to be in question as well). Although the script is not fully completed for the second one I've read rumors on the net there might be less effects.

As for matrix I think they did seem to have more show boat effects. I'm a hugh star wars fan but I can agree with the academy's decision.

As for other movies with the same concepts there also is the thirteenth floor.
I did not think it was nearly as good as
Dark city or Matrix. But shares a few of the same ideas.

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Joe Tracy
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From:Carpinteria, CA
Registered: Sep 1999

posted March 28, 2000 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Tracy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
acme - you are right.

I felt that George Lucas and I were on the same page when years ago he said something similar to "an effect without a story is just an effect." He placed his emphasis on the story, which made the first three Star Wars movies very strong. But something happened between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace.

I first became concerned with Lucas when he made some changes to the original trilogy. The two changes I was specifically concerned about were:

1) Making Greedo fire first at Han Solo.
2) Making Luke Skywalker scream after letting go of the beam to chose death over Darth Vader.

Then I started becoming more concerned when Lucas confirmed that the name of Stars Wars: Episode 1 would be "The Phantom Menace," a title many thought was a joke just to throw fans off from the real title.

The viewing of The Phantom Menace confirmed my worst fears - Lucas had become obsessed with effects & digital technology and had thrown the story out the window (for the most part).

Just a few (of many) problems I saw were:

1) An obsession for trying to scientifically explain things like "the force".

2) Putting emphasis on a corny and annoying digital character instead of giving more screen time to developing Darth Maul.

3) Taking skill and "the force" out of the equation in scenes like Anakin "accidently" blowing up the Mother Ship.

4) Resorting to "characters stepping in poop" and fart jokes for humor versus original humor as displayed in the first three films.

Then to add insult to injury Lucas ignored all the outcries from fans over Jar-Jar and states that Jar-Jar will be back in Episode 2 - "The Phantom Movie".

The script was weak, character development was weak, and the emphasis was on the effects versus the story. Many critics complained about the acting being "dry." When you're always talking to invisible characters and interacting with blue screens, instead of real people in real environments, then acting becomes much more of a major challenge.

In addition, it seems that Lucas lumps those who didn't like "The Phantom Menace" into his own "losers" category, comparing such fans to "those who didn't like the Ewoks". I'm a huge fan of the original trilogy - all three movies. It's not hard to see a major difference between those works of arts and the Razzie nominated "Worst Movie of the Year."

I think that Lucas should step aside on Episode 2 and allow someone with vision like John Lasseter to take the helm under the counsel of Lucas. The least that Lucas could do is pay more attention to the die-hard fans. Instead, we are being treated like the die-hard fans in "Galaxy Quest" who the main character later had to depend on to save the universe.

It's not to late, Mr. Lucas. If the fans say "no more Jar-Jar" you should listen. Take a long breath and search deep into your heart and soul to capture the emotions and story telling that you brought to life in the original trilogy. You've proven to be a great visionary in the past and there's hope that that visionary person will return.

Joe Tracy

[This message has been edited by Joe Tracy (edited March 28, 2000).]

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sterfish
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From:Chicago IL, USA
Registered: Feb 2000

posted March 28, 2000 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sterfish     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joe: Couldn't have said it better myself. George Lucas needs to concentrate on telling the story rather than effects. As for someone under Lucas' counsel...anybody else think that The Empire Strikes Back was better than the original George Lucas-directed Star Wars?

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CZ
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From:CA
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posted March 28, 2000 11:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with just about everything Joe said except the bit about the title. The Phantom Menace sounds exactly like the sort of cheesy, sci-fi B-movie George and Co. set out to pay tribute to back when they made the first film. You've got to admit "Star Wars" isn't a particularly dignified title in the first place. And what about "The Empire Strikes Back"?

Still, I agree what they did to the storyline of TPM was pretty damaging. George seems to be trying to turn the atmosphere of Star Wars from Saturday afternoon matinee to out and out epic. Somehow, I don't think it's working. It could be said that he's just laying out the ground work for the next set of films, but two and a half hours without a hint of depth? And I liked the Ewoks.

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Joe Tracy
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From:Carpinteria, CA
Registered: Sep 1999

posted March 29, 2000 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Tracy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
sterfish - The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite of the original trilogy.

CZ - at least the title of the first three films told you something about the movies:

1) Star Wars (battles in space).
2) Empire Strikes Back (revenge of the Empire after losing in Star Wars).
3) Return of the Jedi (the Jedi's comeback).

Now when you hear "The Phantom Menace" what does it tell you about the story? In my case, the Phantom is Darth Maul because we never see him and the Menace is Jar-Jar because he is annoying the characters in the movie and the audience at the same time. However, I'm pretty sure that's probably not what Lucas had in mind when naming the film.

Joe Tracy

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HelixDaKat
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From:Riverside, California, USA
Registered: Sep 1999

posted March 29, 2000 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HelixDaKat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi all,

Well to throw my thoughts in on this topic, I feel that Joe Tracy is right on about "The Phantom Menace" The story was really weak, and the effects were so flashy that it seemed more like an ILM demo reel than a movie.

As for the "Matrix" the effects were direct to the point, clean, inovative and most importantly, the effects assisted, as well as facilitated the story.

Over all, I was extreamly happy to see the "Matrix" win.

As for Star Wars Episode 2, I hope Lucas rethinks the Jar-Jar issue, and if possible, Get Darth Maul some surgery...He was an awsome character.

Helixdakat

------------------

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Penanimate
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From:Menlo Park, CA USA
Registered: Oct 1999

posted March 29, 2000 09:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Penanimate     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm told that the "Phantom Menace" is Senator Palpatine, who will, of course, grow up to be the Emperor. While watching the movie, I got that he was the guy wearing the robes in those holograms, but it had to be pointed out to me that he is the phantom menace.

It's my opinion that this line about "setting up the next two films" is nonsense. There's not a person in the world who went to see TPM without being familiar with the first three movies, so all Lucas had to do was introduce the new characters and tell us a good story. Of course maybe he's setting up a way to resolve all the inconsistencies that wind throughout the first trilogy, but I digress...

Helix, I disagree that Maul was a good character. He had the potential to be a good character, but he ended up being nothing more than a two-dimensional cookie-cutter bad guy who, admittedly, looked really cool.

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streep
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From:Ellensburg, WA USA
Registered: Feb 2000

posted March 29, 2000 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for streep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The best effects in SW were those in the back grounds, the crowd scenes and the landscape in the pod race, the backgrounds on Naboo. They added a depth to the image but were not the hit you over the head effects that I saw from the Matrix, which were amazing and did deserve the Oscars, but a lot of that stop action and rotate in 3-d are seen all over. Where George dropped the ball is that he took over the reins again. The best movie was ESB and he used other writers and another director to make it. He needs to just make the framework, come up with some ideas and let others do the nitty gritty work with his approval. The explainations of the force took away from the magic of the series. By not explaining it it makes it mystical. He took that part away, made it seem like being strong in the force was a virus. As for Jar Jar, I did not mind him so much because he was a supporting character, the humor was strained though. George has one limitation where new movie makers don't, he has to make a movie that fits in with what has already been made, so that someone can sit and watch all six in a row and feel like they were all made in a similar time frame. That is kind of hard concidering that SW will be 25 years old when episode two comes out. Just my two cents.

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CAS3
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From:Annapolis, MD, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted March 29, 2000 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for CAS3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Matrix was a land amrk film, just like 2001 was, and just like Star Wars was. It will be held up as the benchmark for many years, and during those years many film makers will copy the style and special effects used in The Matrix. So it will go until somewhere down the road a new movie comes out that will set new standards for film makers, as The Matrix did.

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