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10 Books Students Should Read

Published : 15th June 2013

This is not a new thread but the information regarding books is still appropriate.

I work with a lot of miniature sets and set pieces of all scales.

What movies would you suggest seeing that are not using CGI but actual miniature sets. Items that are on Earth more so than in space.

Daiquiri St John
Los Angeles, CA 90018


I know there's an expensive coffee table book on ILM that addresses a lot of miniature stuff and it's not all space stuff. I never bought them, but I remember a couple of books on miniatures from ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) Press about miniatures. Their back catalogue of magazines also had a bunch of articles about doing miniatures "back in the day." They were articles written in the 80s and 90s that dealt with movies shot in the 30s-50s.

Also, Cinefex Magazine regularly publishes effects articles with in-depth discussion of miniatures and their archives would probably be invaluable. See if you can get hold of an index of old issues. There are also a lot of books on the subject advertised in both Cinefex and ASC Magazine.

Steve Hullfish
Verascope Pictures.


I've always admired the foreground miniature work of Emilio Ruiz del Rio in "Dune" and the Conan movies. Also Derek Meddings work, as in "The Thunderbird", and then the James Bond films and "Superman". The airplane chase through Hollywood in "1941" was also a great use of miniatures. Terry Gilliam's use of miniatures in "Time Bandits", "Brazil", and "Baron Munchausen" was also impressive.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


There's a consumer-oriented "behind the scenes" book on the making of "1941." Including description of the miniatures.

Steve Hullfish
Verascope Pictures


David Mullen wrote:

>> I've always admired the foreground miniature work of Emilio Ruiz del Rio in "Dune" and the Conan

>> movies.....

Actually, I think some of the best miniature work has been done in more recent years. Although it doesn't seem to get the buzz or the press, with the advent of better and more versatile motion control, 3D tracking for live action, digital compositing, and other technical improvements, miniature work is often better integrated and more interactive with the live action than ever before. Some of the better examples include the Harry Potter pictures, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and yes, even Star Wars (not 100% CG, you know) and War of the Worlds.

Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


I agree with Mike.

Lots of good recent miniature work,

It's not all CGI.
I'd also include last year’s Batman, and in Master and Commander, the main ships were miniatures, not CGI.

Steven Bradford
Collins College
Tempe Arizona


>> yes, even Star Wars (not 100% CG, you know)

I was told by someone at ILM that during principal photography on episode 2 (and possibly episode 3) when the CGI teams fell behind it was often faster to build a miniature set and shoot than it was to build it in a computer.

>> What movies would you suggest seeing that are not using CGI but actual miniature sets. Items that are >> on Earth more so than in space.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Watch the DVD extras and you'll see how many of the settings were miniatures. It was all extremely well done.

Art Adams
Director of Photography
www.artadams.net



>> I was told by someone at ILM that during principal photography on episode 2 (and possibly episode 3)

>> when the CGI teams fell behind it was often faster to build a miniature set and shoot than it was to build >> it in a computer.

I'm quite sure that's true, but at the same time, it's still a question of quick, fast, cheap - choose 2. If you rush a miniature to completion, you sacrifice detailing that might be the difference between a model that's great and one that's merely good. If you have an army of detailing artists available in the model shop, you might be able to alleviate this somewhat, depending on the size of the model and how many people can physically work on it simultaneously. You can certainly shoot a miniature in a lot less time than you can render CG, unless you have an unlimited render farm and/or don't use render intensive lighting techniques (i.e., radiosity, final gather, etc.). And, of course, with practical photography, you don't get render errors (although you can very easily get motion control errors....).

Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


>> What movies would you suggest seeing that are not using CGI but actual miniature sets. Items that are >> on Earth more so than in space.

Just watched "The Core" from a couple of years ago. Very silly, but old fashioned fun. And they used miniatures also-- specifically, the shot of the Coliseum in Rome blowing up. As Art pointed out, sometimes it is faster to build a "real" model than a cg one. CG models don't build themselves either after all.

Steven Bradford
Collins College
Tempe Arizona


I've always preferred the more realistic look/feel of models over CG particularly for explosions, but for big budget effects I think those differences are pretty much negligible these days. More an issue of time (faster with models) and repeatability (better with CG). I heard a funny story about model effects on the movie "Event Horizon".

Apparently one of the model makers was unhappy with his job and planted a Barbie doll inside a very expensive model. Upon explosion in front of multiple cameras, the Barbie doll popped out and essentially made footage beyond that point unusable. So I suppose in that case, CG might have been the better option.

Jim Eagan
NY shooter/editor


>> What movies would you suggest seeing that are not using CGI but actual miniature sets. Items that are >> on Earth more so than in space.

Brainstorm, GhostBusters, Independence Day, Clash Of The Titans, DieHard, Richard Donners Superman and my all time favourite Starship Troopers. SST was Richard Edlund's tour de force in miniature work.

Any work by Doug Trumbull or Richard Edlund is the best example of effects work before CGI imho.

Joe McDonnell



 

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