Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Movie Magic

Here's a cool article about the special effects in Herbie: Fully Loaded. I guess that would be interesting to, I don't know, Cynthia, since she's actually seen it. They talk about when they used CGI for Herbie versus when they used the better-looking practical effects. When Herbie sits still, they used the puppet car. When Herbie's driving, it's computer generated, since the car with the mechanical effects can't actually be driven. Except when, as I suspected, they felt the need to punch up (overplay) the performance and added in additional emoting in post-production.

It pretty much just confirms everything I already figured out by watching the movie, since computer-generated special effects, even good ones, are always completely obvious. Yes, the compositing of moving headlights onto existing footage was a challenge, but I could always tell when it was composited instead of done for real. Is it still good? Yes, it's quite a feat to recreate a NASCAR race on a computer, but I could tell the difference there, too. I guess it's no more or less obvious than the models and other weird effects you see in the old Herbie movies. But those effects, even though they were obviously fake, had an aura of mystique about them. You wonder how they did them, since each effects shot was cobbled together with who knows how many jerry-rigged methods. Now that the answer is always "computers," it's no fun.

Disney's visual effects supervisor describes the "rule" of Herbie effects that they came up with:

When we eventually developed our performance rules with Angela Robinson, it was decided that we should never see the metal bend. Our rule of thumb was that Herbie had to stay a car throughout the movie and not cross that line into a shape-shifting being.

Great rule. It's the same one I would have wanted. I wish they'd followed it. How can you justify the shot I complained about under that rule?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's a NY Times article about product placement in Herbie that might interest you.