Special Effects in Season 3

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LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:29 pm

Rainwater wrote:I love (very nearly all) the special effects and their aesthetic. Especially everything to do with the Lodge/the supernatural, which is what most of the discussion usually revolves around, as I understand. There was never any "adjustment period" for me either, I just thought they were very cool visuals, and frequently beautiful, and fit into the work perfectly. (Well okay, I was jarred slightly by the look of Ruth's corpse at first, but that's pretty much it)
I never got, and I think I never will get, where the people who are calling them "bad" are coming from at all. At least no sooner than they'll be able to explain what's bad about them, exactly.

The only times when the effects bother me a little is when realism is actually something they're striving for. I agree with Mr. Reindeer about the Laura in the woods scene, one of the rare times I wished some more work had been put into it, or that it had been done differently. Of course it doesn't really ruin anything, but yeah. I think it won't age too well, unlike all the surreal stuff, which is pretty much timeless.


I totally agree with the first paragraph and the idea behind the second, but here's where I differ and what it made me think about. So, okay, it could be better, some might say. Conversely, I listed my reasons earlier for why I think it avoided the pitfalls that plague most de-aging effects. Those reasons are practical (lighting, shot selection, dialogue delivery), so while I'm at, let me state the reason I think it will age just fine. Yes, I know it's 2017 and certain (flawed) technology is available, but I think the way it looks is actually very classical, somehow very much in line with Lynch's aesthetic as well as that of the original series. Had modern technology not been available, Lynch simply would have trotted out Sheryl Lee in a wig and makeup without any CG enhancement, and it would have still gotten the message across and aged perfectly fine, as various primitive effects have throughout the first century of film, including that superimposed face in Lost Highway. The way it was done looks more "realistic" than simple wigs and makeup, at the very least, without heading completely into the realm of digital fakery, which as I've said in a previous post was still not perfect in 2017. I can still see and feel the real Laura, rather than a completely digital facsimile, and I think that's great. Now, would it be cool or more uncanny if she was this perfect, digital creation? Yes, of course I'm open to that, and it may even fit in line with the idea that one can never go back, that she can only be conjured through completely digital means. That would work on that intellectual, thematic level, but then again it still does by having an aged Sheryl Lee attempt to portray her younger self. It's very human and haunting and strange and beautiful to me.

It's interesting that people are split on this. I thought it looked incredible and uncanny on first viewing, and others thought it was actual footage, while others were taken out of the moment by it and wish it was better. Interestingly, I know one person who didn't even realize any de-aging was applied, which I believe speaks to the subtlety of the effect, which is what I like about it.
Last edited by LateReg on Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AgentEcho
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby AgentEcho » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:30 pm

LateReg's observations about eyes in CGI de-aged characters is on point. Just watched the trailer for "The Irishman", which I'm looking forward to, but it climaxes with a shot of de-aged DeNiro, and indeed the eyes are what gives it away. Supposedly the effect is used extensively in the film.

Interesting to hear the differences in responses to the CGI in part 8. I am in the camp.that thought the bomb and the frog moth were both excellent CGI, and I tend to be pretty skeptical about modern CGI. I think the monochrome actually helped, in the same way that darker CGI is often more convincing than brightly lit CGI.
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:47 pm

B&W is definitely kinder to effects, both practical and digital, than color is. The Eraserhead baby and the Elephant Man makeup would likely have been very different propositions in color.

In terms of the “young Laura” effect, the shape of her face is indeed the most glaring tell for me. While I agree with LateReg that the shot selection is well done (the scenes are shot wisely keeping her at a distance, from certain strategic angles, and in B&W), that shooting style in and of itself is a bit of a distraction for me, and draws attention to itself. My eye is naturally drawn to “young Laura” because she is the focus of those scenes (and because her presence on this series is an anomaly/novelty that draws attention to itself by its nature), and therefore when the show pushes her to the periphery of the frame and makes me squint to get a good look at her, I’m conscious of it. I also have contemplated the fact that Sheryl looks pretty different in FWWM from the original series, and that this is just another extension of that, and I can certainly appreciate it on that level as another imperfection in a beautifully flawed franchise. Now that those scenes exist as they are, they’re part of the franchise’s history, and I wouldn’t want them any other way.
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Soolsma
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Soolsma » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:30 pm

I think the limited possibilities of the de-aged Laura might have also prevented Lee from pulling some of her incredible acting capabilities. Her facial expressions have always been vital to me, in making her come across as anything between sincerely sweet, poisonously seductive, utterly insane and agonizingly horrified. Lynch loves to exploit this facet with close-ups, proven again by the scenes with Carrie Page.
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Rik Renault
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Rik Renault » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:38 am

Just wanted to chime in re de-aged Laura in Part 17: I thought this was one of the most polished effects and also one of the most successful at conveying meaning. De-aged Laura was so uncanny for me, and the clash of the familiar and unfamiliar in those scenes worked perfectly for me at the time. I say at the time, because I'm watching now in Blu Ray and having a totally different viewing experience to the standard HD I did my initial watches in, and I haven't made it to 17&18 yet!
LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:00 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:B&W is definitely kinder to effects, both practical and digital, than color is. The Eraserhead baby and the Elephant Man makeup would likely have been very different propositions in color.

In terms of the “young Laura” effect, the shape of her face is indeed the most glaring tell for me. While I agree with LateReg that the shot selection is well done (the scenes are shot wisely keeping her at a distance, from certain strategic angles, and in B&W), that shooting style in and of itself is a bit of a distraction for me, and draws attention to itself. My eye is naturally drawn to “young Laura” because she is the focus of those scenes (and because her presence on this series is an anomaly/novelty that draws attention to itself by its nature), and therefore when the show pushes her to the periphery of the frame and makes me squint to get a good look at her, I’m conscious of it. I also have contemplated the fact that Sheryl looks pretty different in FWWM from the original series, and that this is just another extension of that, and I can certainly appreciate it on that level as another imperfection in a beautifully flawed franchise. Now that those scenes exist as they are, they’re part of the franchise’s history, and I wouldn’t want them any other way.


I guess just to keep the conversation going (in circles), I'll truthfully say that I think the lack of close-ups is not only why it works from a technical perspective, but also what makes it so alluring/tantalizing/beguiling/mysterious/uncanny, as though it can't be real, as though there is hesitation, as though we can't quite get close and she is just out of reach. For me that contributes greatly to the actual feeling/mood of the scene.
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:50 pm

It’s been a few months since I last watched TR. I want to go back and rewatch the “young Laura” scenes in light of this conversation, because I think conversations on here with LateReg and others in the past gave me more appreciation for another effects sequence I’m still not wild about (green glove battle!), but I will say that my perspective has substantially changed. The “young Laura” sequence, unlike the green glove battle, is one that I really and truly love. I just didn’t feel like the effect 100% worked, and it pulled me a little bit out of the scene. I also agree with Rik Renault that watching the show on Blu Ray vs. Showtime was a wildly different experience. In most scenes, the cinematography looked far better on Blu Ray, but I do think the “young Laura” effect stuck out to me more on Blu Ray (or maybe it was just that I was scrutinizing the show a little more, as opposed to the initial viewing where that incredible sequence just washed over me and left me in a euphoric state). It is really interesting how users on this board seem to be split more or less down the middle regarding whether that effect worked, and I think there is something to be said for Soolsma’s idea that different people perceive these effects in slightly different ways, or perhaps prioritize/focus on different elements.
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AXX°N N.
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby AXX°N N. » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:49 am

Yeah, the Bluray changed a lot for me. I initially really disliked the shot of Cooper tunneling into the outlet before his shoes drop, and it's because the image was so bright on Showtime, to the point I could see jaggy outlines. On Bluray it looked way, way smoother, just because of the lighting. The compression of broadcast TV in general is extremely bad for special effects. I don't know what accounts for it, but it really separates what is real from what is unreal, and makes it really easy to pinpoint what is something there and something inserted, as if the effects have an outline or aura.

As for the Laura de-aged sequence, I was convinced (due largely in part to the footage of Laura and James on the bike, and Ronette & the gang that was never seen before) that it was old footage. I was in fact mindfucked for a while, thinking Lynch had planned this for 25 years and shot footage especially for an older Cooper, or something, while doing FWWM. Only when BUF posted that page where they go into how they did everything did I become convinced it was an optical effect. The fact she was kept at a distance didn't make me sceptical of effects... in fact, it felt like a dliberate decision (as said so well by LateReg above) to soften her and make her seem distant, because she is, in that moment (or I guess, Cooper is for her) operating as a kind of figment, or something enshrouded and to be handled with care. This is backed up by when Cooper keeps looking back at her. So for me the effect was flawless.
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LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:44 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:It’s been a few months since I last watched TR. I want to go back and rewatch the “young Laura” scenes in light of this conversation...


For me, it has been a year! I did my second 18-hour "film experience" binge of the series with my brother in late July of 2018, and I've purposely been trying to let it linger so I can forget about it and see it fresh when I return to it, likely in the midst of a complete series rewatch. But I can't help but come here and check in, or scour for articles/comments on the internet that constantly remind me of very specific elements of the thing, which almost defeats the purpose of me staying away from it. Which is to say that I'm going off of memory, and not looking at the scene up close as we're speaking about it. But my memory is strong on the subject of how I felt about that sequence because I remember thinking, on first viewing, that it was possibly the best de-aging effect I had ever seen, and remember on subsequent viewings noticing the seams in the effect but still not being taken out of it in part because all such effects are flawed (plasticky faces, the eyes), and I still preferred the Laura-effect and the way it was used to most other similar effects. (As I've already said, I still don't think anyone has necessarily surpassed Benjamin Button's achievement, at least not as of the airing of The Return.)

That said, I actually do believe that the single best de-aging effect I have seen is actually from 2017, of a young Rachel (Sean Young) in Blade Runner 2049. However, does anyone know if that is technically the same kind of effect? Was Sean Young actually performing the scene, or did they just digitally repurpose and manipulate old footage? I recall hearing that a body double resembling a young Sean Young was used, but I don't recall if Young (or her face, at least) actually acted in the scene or not. Regardless, the scene has a similarly potent effect as that in The Return, albeit with picture perfect close-ups in part so that we can note the absolute perfection of the recreation. Yet the reason both work are for similar reasons, namely, that both characters/actresses are given very little to do/emote, and both sequences draw attention to/evoke the inherent uncanny unreality of the scene. Beautiful, haunting stuff, both.
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Soolsma
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Soolsma » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:57 am

No. The young Rachel used a different, way more intricate technique. They filmed a younger double, and then largely replaced her with 3D CGI using old footage of Sean Young for lighting and texture reference. In this sense, the young Rachel is more akin to how they revived Silva for TPTR. For Laura, two-dimensional techniques were used. It can be described as if they ''painted'' over her in certain frames and then used a morphing technique between those.

I have to say, I did experience something slightly uncanny about the young Rachel. However, it's impossible for me to tell whether this can be attributed to the fact that I know that it's not the real deal, or because I can actually distinguish it from reality. Nonetheless, this only adds to the experience. She is a replicant after all. But yes, she is painstakingly real.

Interesting watch. See Ridley Scott talking about his favorite scene from the original Blade Runner, and the effort they put into making Rachel look slightly unreal. They used lighting techniques to make her eyes seem like those of Leopards in Kubrick's 2001.

BTW. Visually, Blade Runner 2049 was gorgeous, to say the very least. It truly did honor to the original movie, Philip K. Dick's work and instantly became one of my all time sci-fi favorites.

Video showing the revival of young Rachel.
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LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:17 pm

Soolsma wrote:No. The young Rachel used a different, way more intricate technique. They filmed a younger double, and then largely replaced her with 3D CGI using old footage of Sean Young for lighting and texture reference. In this sense, the young Rachel is more akin to how they revived Silva for TPTR. For Laura, two-dimensional techniques were used. It can be described as if they ''painted'' over her in certain frames and then used a morphing technique between those.


Thanks!
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mtwentz
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby mtwentz » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:29 pm

LateReg wrote:
Soolsma wrote:No. The young Rachel used a different, way more intricate technique. They filmed a younger double, and then largely replaced her with 3D CGI using old footage of Sean Young for lighting and texture reference. In this sense, the young Rachel is more akin to how they revived Silva for TPTR. For Laura, two-dimensional techniques were used. It can be described as if they ''painted'' over her in certain frames and then used a morphing technique between those.


Thanks!


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LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:33 pm

mtwentz wrote:Speaking of, I’ve still never seen Blade Runner. Every time I make a plan, I get paralyzed about which of the versions to see.


The latest cut, The Final Cut, for sure. It's fun to look through them all afterwards, though!
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:00 pm

BR2049 is in some ways a spiritual cousin to TP:TR, as a sequel that spends much of its runtime as a mood piece focused on new characters and settings, expanding the world, but also honors the original characters several decades on in a beautiful way. I need to revisit that movie, or more ideally, watch both films back to back. I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is the ideal type of sequel, because it reflects the actual passage of time in a realistic, powerful way.
LateReg
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Re: Special Effects in Season 3

Postby LateReg » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:33 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:BR2049 is in some ways a spiritual cousin to TP:TR, as a sequel that spends much of its runtime as a mood piece focused on new characters and settings, expanding the world, but also honors the original characters several decades on in a beautiful way. I need to revisit that movie, or more ideally, watch both films back to back. I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is the ideal type of sequel, because it reflects the actual passage of time in a realistic, powerful way.


Not to turn this into a full-blown discussion of BR2049, but very briefly I'll emphasize the "some ways" portion of that. While it shares thematic DNA and, as you put it, reflects the actual passage of time and furthermore takes its sweet time in telling its story, BR2049 is also in some ways the antithesis of The Return, what with it's tight tick-tock plotting that strongly resembles Nolan's style of twist-based storytelling, as well as its potentially tedious over-explanation of key themes. I've frequently said and also read a few times that BR2049 is the equivalent of prose, whereas the original Blade Runner is poetry. It's aesthetically beautiful prose that perfectly captures the texture and mood of the original, but I wish it was a bit looser, less verbal and less plot-heavy at times.

PS - It's interesting, in light of your pointing out the spiritual similarities between BR2049 and The Return, that Villeneuve is tackling Dune next.

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