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  • #16
    Originally posted by Triple F View Post
    Creating composites shots is also very different from creating CGI. CGI is, as the name says computer generated images, and exist quite separately from film. Composite shots on the other hand is where visual FX are added to pre-existing filmed live action. Film "plates" are delivered to the composite artist who then add the desired effects to the plate. . . . The plates delivered - from the production (ie the exective producers) - to the composite artists were already telecined down to 4:3, so it was physically impossible for the artists to create wide composites on 4:3 plates.
    Can you define 'composite' for the purposes of what you're saying? It sounds like you're talking about adding things like PPG bursts while my understanding of 'composite' is that it's a combining of CGI with live action, such as when Lyta ducks on Mars when the white star shoots overhead. In fact, the script specifies
    37 EXT. SURFACE - LYTA (BLUE SCREEN .COMP)
    So I don't see how somebody not involved with Foundation (or Netter Digital) could help but get involved. If it can be explained without dragging this entirely off-topic.


    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

    Comment


    • #17
      Separate companies (or individuals working from home) basically. Foundation Imaging was only ONE arm of the "FX department". Though at different times during the 5 years of the production work would shift between them.

      Netter did a lot more of the composites in the later years, but early on it was more the likes of Eric Chauvin and Kevin Kutchaver who were NOT employed by Foundation. Kevin created the PPG blasts for a while, originally it was done on a Harry, and later FI and then Netter took shots at it (excuse the pun). They also used Macs, and a 3D package called Infini-D (when they needed to create a 3D model) . . So they didn't even share assets with either FI or Netter who worked with Lightwave which wasn't compatible with the mac based Infini-D. . . .

      It's why, if you look at one of the establishing shots of the surface of Minbar (which was also used in the Season 4 credits) the Minbari flyer looks quite different. . . Basically Eric Chauvin who composited that shot had to build his own version of the flyer (as he couldn't use FI's model) then add it together with things like stock footage of
      Niagara falls, filmed actors and a CG background which HE also created using Infini-D. . . . Different folk did different things, basically, sometimes working with others, sometimes not - but FI had nothing to do with that shot for example.

      What's added to the live action can be a purely computer generated item (like a 3D model of a monster), it can be a hand drawn effect (like electrical arcs as Kevin Kutchaver was quite famous for), it can be an effect like warping the image on the screen (like some of the PPG blasts) which is basically some number crunching in . . . After Effects, I think or at least the forerunner of After Effects. Or the effect can be generated outside of the computer - like shining a light through a beer glass and filming the resulting patterns it makes on a wall (that's how the lighting highlights were added to Sinclair's face while sitting in the chair during Mind Wars for example. There's more to it than that, obviously, actors can be composited in and multiple mattes can be used, etc . . and rotoscope is another technique - but here's a quote from Kevin . . who had NOTHING to do with either Foundation or Netter (did I mention that already ). . . he had his own company, but on this occasion worked with Optic Nerve. . . This is another of those many shots that didn't involve FI at all.


      "The monster that was used in The Long Dark. John Vulich was the one who brought me in on this. He wanted to do an invisible creature, somewhat like the monster of the Id from Forbidden Planet, and how it appeared when caught in the perimeter barrier. So he had a black monster suit made with some lava-like cracks that I would add to the BG with various glows and contrast mattes. I probably ran some electrical animation through the bright "Lava Cracks" on the suit to give it some separate energy. Can't remember if this was on blue screen, or against black. My guess would be against black, with mattes gotten from contrast mattes and some roto."
      The thing is though, no matter which method was used to create the effects, the plates (holding the live action) which these effects would be added to was already telecined down to the 4:3 aspect ratio and the D1 resolution (720x486), because that's what the delivery specs for television was back in the 90's. . . I once asked Kevin if he could have created the various FX widescreen or at a higher resolution, and he said yes, of course, it wouldn't really have taken any longer due to how most of them were created (not rendered like CGI) and had done so for many movies . . . But the limiting factor - believe it or not - was what resolution the tv sitting in peoples houses was. . . and back then it was a 4:3 aspect ratio with a 720x486 resolution.

      That's why it's a little surprising that jms would even suggest that he though the composites were being produced in a wide aspect ratio when the plates his production company was delivering to the compositors were already telecined down to 4:3 and 720x486. . . But to then blame Foundation Imaging (and specifically Ron Thornton in one tweet) for not telling him is crazy.

      As far as the CGI is concerned. Ron OFFERED to do the CGI in wide, meaning he was asked to create them in 4:3 because - again - that's what the broadcast/delivery specs were. Like so many things surrounding the new digital options it took people like Netter and jms time to wrap their heads around what could now be done, and what was needed (or not needed).

      I'm just guessing here, but presumably knowing that the stuff was only going to be (initially) transmitted in 4:3 and D1 resolution was at least partly behind the reason why Netter wouldn't purchase the wide monitor so FI could check their output . . . . He certainly didn't do it himself when his own company began doing the CGI from the fourth season onwards (and funnily enough, the year he took over - 1996 - is also the year that the NEW HD standard was established within the television industry.

      But the truth is the CGI could have been created in wide (like the filmed bits) and easily cropped down to 4:3 (in the computer) then delivered in that aspect ratio so it could be cut into the episode for the initial transmission while leaving a wide digital master back on the computer for some future use. . . . . This was an option that Thornton put forward, and it was down to the producers to decide what to do.

      If jms didn't know any of this . . . that sure as hell isn't Ron Thornton's fault. . . and there's one other thing relating to that.

      jms was the JUNIOR partner in Babylonian productions (it's why Netter's name appears before jms's in the credits as he owned 51% of the company). I've noticed that jms has made tweets suggesting that people were organising things - or talking about stuff - without telling him. That might be true to one degree or another, but the point of contact for people like Thornton, Kutchaver, Chauvin, Burrell, Vulich and many others was Netter and Copeland. . . . If either of those two kept things from jms, or didn't involve him in some production decisions then again, it's got nothing to do with Thornton, Kutchaver, Burrell, etc.

      But regardless, the fact remains the existing television sets (and delivery standards) at the time was the basis of the issue for things like composites (and ultimately what aspect ratio the producers wanted the CGI rendered in, and make no mistake it WAS their decision to make), if they WERE serious about future proofing the show then they wouldn't have sent 4:3 plates to the compositors and told FI to render in 4:3. . . It wasn't down to any of the FX "guys" or the equipment THEY used. . . .

      As a show runner involved in every aspect of the show's production you'd have thought jms would have at least known his production company was sending out 4:3 plates to the various FX artists. . . . . and basically blaming them is . . well.

      Anyway.
      Last edited by Triple F; 03-15-2021, 02:21 AM.

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      • #18
        I'll say this. I like B5 and I like a great deal of JMS work. But from time to time his online persona rubs me up the wrong way. He felt it was acceptable to call out a new creative team on Spiderman citing his sales figures were better. It's the kind of dick measuring I don't like. This was after his very public spat with Marvel after they demanded certain creative changes to tie in with what they wanted to do with Spiderman as a whole. He can get pretty bitter about things. But, do your own research, draw your own conclusions. He's also a bit guilty of immense hyperbole when discussing his own work, "never done before in this medium, etc", usually total nonsense.

        https://bleedingcool.com/comics/fanb...-steve-wacker/

        Last edited by Ubik; 03-14-2021, 03:39 AM.
        Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

        Kosh: Good!

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by Ubik View Post
          He felt it was acceptable to call out a new creative team on Spiderman citing his sales figures were better. It's the kind of dick measuring I don't like. This was after his very public spat with Marvel after they demanded certain creative changes to tie in with what they wanted to do with Spiderman as a whole.
          Funny, my impression from the 'just sayin'' thing was that it wasn't saying anything at all about the new team - rather it was saying how many people dropped the book after Quesada insisted on having the character literally make a deal with the devil for the sake of getting rid of the marriage. And that was true - a LOT of people dropped the title for at least a couple of years, as I recall.

          If we're going down that road, though, it might be fair to also note the flak that JMS took without comment when Quesada also required him to have the Green Goblin father Gwen's kids. Yes, it's common knowledge now, but wasn't then or for quite a while after. As for 'blame', I personally thought that this was pretty even-handed.
          http://jmsnews.com/messages/message?id=3704

          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

          Comment


          • #20
            Yep, here are the links.

            https://twitter.com/straczynski/stat...381943809?s=21

            https://twitter.com/straczynski/stat...147614720?s=21

            The first is from 2020 but the second is shortly after the finale.

            I'd guess that Kala needed a fair amount of protection given her marriage to somebody connected with the counterfeit drug trade and her emotional affair with a gangster.
            I don’t see how you can read that into it? He says that he worked hard to protect her, as he isn’t a character within the story, he cannot protect her from the drug trade. He’s talking about within the writers room, not within the fictional universe (also the previous post was about how he would have done a better job writing Kala).

            If we go down that route, any danger he needs to protect her from, he also put her into.

            Also a PR answer. Matrix 4 isn't out yet. That's trying to compare apples and grapes, IMO.
            I don’t see the difference? Does the date change it?
            I don’t see why this isn’t comparable. However I’d say Vince Gilligan lack of criticism and ‘blame’ of Michael Slovis for Breaking Bad requiring a remaster is similar.

            But taking credit for things he wasn't responsible for, while deflecting blame away from himself or creating blame where none should exist then directing it to others is unfortunate.
            Yes, that’s exactly what is bugging me. If someone makes a mistake, you can choose to quietly deal with it, or perhaps you want to call them out. Different people will handle things differently. Both have their pros and cons.

            However this seems like “creating blame where none should exist”. I don’t understand why someone would go to the trouble to creating this story?
            If it’s a lie, why? Surely there are cooler lies to tell.
            Perhaps it is simply something JMS was unaware of and uninvolved in... but then why pretend otherwise.

            There is dignity in admitting when you don’t know the answer.

            But from time to time his online persona rubs me up the wrong way. He felt it was acceptable to call out a new creative team on Spiderman citing his sales figures were better. It's the kind of dick measuring I don't like.
            Thanks for that link... god his ‘just sayin’’ comes across as so childish.
            His defence was worse, ‘I posted numbers’, which is technically true, but completely ignores the meaning. By choosing to post those numbers, he is implying something, unless he is in the habit of randomly posting comic book sales info. I don’t randomly post the current time (6.32pm) and if I do, I’m doing it for some purpose.

            I’m not trying to drag JMS’ name through the mud or anything like that, I’m just trying to wrap my head around this one.

            Comment


            • #21
              Not really sure what point you're making with the links about the SENSE8 finale? Of course not squishing the resolution to the BPO issue would have been more satisfying if they'd had more time and the show had continued. How not? In what way is that negative? And what 'blame' is there in saying so? I'd be unsurprised if Lana might not say the same if she were the sort to answer fan questions online.

              Suggest you ask JMS about what he meant about protecting Kala. Obviously you know his Twitter handle.

              When you ask, "Does the date change it?" in what's said about something, yes, of course it does. One simply doesn't say anything that could jeopardize the success of something before it's released. Just as when rumors started to fly about SENSE8 having reshoots, never a good thing, it was necessary to ensure that the real information about the filming of some scenes in Iceland got told so as to not damage the property.

              Which reminds you of my point that he's always going to say the most positive things possible about any project before-hand and be more likely to be more critical after the fact.

              As for what he may or may not have known, I'm afraid regardless of 1%, if there's something that JMS didn't know about the production, then it was a failure of Netter/Copeland. I have no opinion as to why or why not he wasn't informed about some things, but it's become obvious over time that it did happen and that he was blindsided. Since Thornton's no longer with us, anything said is pretty much hearsay.

              JMS has said many times that one reason for his participation online was to demystify the making of TV. While Triple F seems to think that that means he should have written the equivalent of what he did above, realists understand that JMS was doing so on his own time on little sleep and with the understanding that the end responsibility for decisions made was his. If somebody witheld information for him to be able to make the best decision, I don't blame him for being pissed. Late comers like Triple F often didn't see the credit that JMS gave to the crew but those of us there at the time saw the B5 Magazine articles and other complimentary things.

              "Just saying..." about a graph that shows that sales numbers are down - yeah, a little childish. But you, Ubik and whoever it was who responded to him are reading much to much into it. What can be 'implied' as you put it, into a sales chart with declining sales figures? Why, you can conclude that sales are *down*, that's what. Don't anyalyse something that's not necessarily there - as was done by Wacker. A sales chart is exactly that - a sales chart (and as I recall, an incorrect one, which nobody actually addressed until later). Could he have been thumbing his nose at *Quesada*? Sure. That really wouldn't surprise me. But there's nothing to indicate that it meant anything bad about the new writing team.

              Sometimes it seems to me that you may be taking 'reasons' something happened and calling it 'blame'. Suffice to say that that's as unattractive as you find the so-called 'blame'.

              At this point, I think I'm going to suggest that if you have questions you go ask him on Twitter. Meanwhile, how are you coming with his autobiography? And have you read WWZ and seen the movie yet? [ETA since you don't know me well: that's me posting as Jan. If/When I put my Mod hat on, I always let people know.]
              Last edited by Jan; 03-15-2021, 02:23 PM.
              "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

              Comment


              • #22
                You kinda miss the point in the example I used. The composite shots were created in 4:3 and that was because 4:3 was the aspect ratio the film plates were delivered to the artists. The decision to do that was made by the production company owned by Netter and Straczynski - and for good reasons at the time.

                Twenty odd years later - over on twitter in response to a chorus of complaints from fans about the visual quality of the composite shots - Straczynski now says he didn't know this - I thought they were created in wide, honest - and only found out they weren't after the show finished!

                But that wasn't enough for him as someone has to be responsible, so twenty odd years later he blames Foundation Imaging and Ron Thornton for it, and as you say Ron is now no longer here to laugh at the sheer lunacy of comments like that to fans. . . Straczynski never blamed Ron while he was still here, even though he had twenty years to do it!

                If you believe that an executive producer of a 5 year long tv show, the show runner of a 5 year long tv show, the person involved in every aspect of the shows production and edited every one of the 110 episodes somehow didn't know the plates being sent out to all the different people and companies that made up the FX department were in a 4:3 aspect ratio then that's up to you.

                The thing about the monitor, yup can totally believe he never knew about that - that sort of thing comes under the heading of new technology and he's just a writer and Netter played him like a flute on the whole FI thing so yeah, he could very well have not known about the conversations between Thornton and Netter.

                Here's the point bit. I most certainly DO NOT believe he didn't know about the plates. If by some miracle he didn't, then he was ignorant of basic television production and delivery standards and his title of "show runner" starts to look more and more like a bit of a joke . . something to keep the writer with an ego happy while the more important decisions were carried out by others. As for blaming Ron ONLY AFTER he passed away (as you brought up the fact Ron ain't here anymore). . . that is truly abhorrent behaviour to me.

                https://twitter.com/straczynski/stat...94561473658880
                I'm rather surprised you would think I don't know that, as someone who has been dealing with technical issues for decades. I wasn't referring to changes in content, I was referring to the look and sound of the show as the guy who knows every frame.
                Last edited by Triple F; 03-16-2021, 06:19 AM.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Triple F View Post
                  As for blaming Ron ONLY AFTER he passed away (as you brought up the fact Ron ain't here anymore). . . that is truly abhorrent behaviour to me.

                  https://twitter.com/straczynski/stat...94561473658880
                  Minor point, but my memory tells me that the conversation about his not knowing about the CGI aspect came before he moved over to Twitter. I'm not remembering the bit about blaming Thornton, though. Do you have a link?

                  Sidebar to Triple F - I left you a message on FB, did you get it? Just making sure in case you can help spread the word.

                  "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Not sure if the tone of this will be more acceptable? Though I think part of ToonPatrol's issue was JMS not having time available to participate.

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                    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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                    • #25
                      Though I think part of ToonPatrol's issue was JMS not having time available to participate.
                      Not at all, if he didn’t have time to participate, that is understandable. If for example Alfonso Herrera had been unavailable due to other bookings and they had to write out his character, considering the circumstances it’s impossible to criticise.

                      However if someone chooses not to be involved, don’t they also give up the right to criticise? Not a perfect analogy, but I was really attached to my first car, but eventually I had to sell it. Once sold, I gave up any control over how and where it was driven.
                      Again I think Lilly Wachowski’s approach was preferable.

                      This is a separate issue, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more to this. Since Sense8, JMS hasn’t exactly been busy. Perhaps there is a project I don’t know about which has been slow moving and precluded his involvement (I know it’s not unusual for projects to languish for years) but I’d struggle to name what that project is. Babylon 5 faced a very similar situation, cancelled after season 4 then brought back, yet with that show I find it very hard to imagine JMS saying he was booked and too busy.

                      Again though, that is just speculation and hunches and not really connected to my issue.

                      When you ask, "Does the date change it?" in what's said about something, yes, of course it does. One simply doesn't say anything that could jeopardize the success of something before it's released.
                      By that argument, when does it become appropriate for JMS to post sales figures? Doesn’t that equally jeopardise the success of the comic?
                      If everything is date based, should we also ignore the compliments he paid to the crew in the B5 magazine at the time?

                      I don’t want to pursue that line too far as it could very quickly end up in circular logic and goalpost shifting.

                      Sometimes it seems to me that you may be taking 'reasons' something happened and calling it 'blame'. Suffice to say that that's as unattractive as you find the so-called 'blame'.
                      That’s what I came into this thread wondering. Was I simply reading too much into a tweet. However after this thread, reading the effects team’s dislike for being blamed, the team at Marvel and so on, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this. Especially the Marvel team, they spent a long time working with him and are likely to have a greater awareness of intended tone.

                      That doesn’t make any of us right of course.

                      And have you read WWZ and seen the movie yet?
                      I haven’t got to the bio yet, but I’ll never watch the film. I’m not a fan of zombie films. The reason I brought up WWZ, had nothing to do with the film but how he acts with collaborators, the film itself wouldn’t reveal anything about that, so watching it is irrelevant. I’ve never seen The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but I have seen the making of documentary Lost In La Mancha (which is fantastic) and it shows how disastrous the production was. The movie itself won’t give me a greater insight.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by ToonPatrol View Post
                        Since Sense8, JMS hasn’t exactly been busy. Perhaps there is a project I don’t know about which has been slow moving and precluded his involvement (I know it’s not unusual for projects to languish for years) but I’d struggle to name what that project is. Babylon 5 faced a very similar situation, cancelled after season 4 then brought back, yet with that show I find it very hard to imagine JMS saying he was booked and too busy.
                        Two novels, a new writing book, teaching writing classes, two audio drama series, three comics minis....no, not very busy at all. </sarcasm> And those are just the ones we know about. We have no clue about what assignments he may have been hired for.

                        I haven’t got to the bio yet, but I’ll never watch the film. I’m not a fan of zombie films. The reason I brought up WWZ, had nothing to do with the film but how he acts with collaborators...<snip>
                        He had no collaborators on WWZ. At all. He wrote two scripts. They were tossed out completely and only after re-writes by others were elements of his scripts put back in. No collaboration at all.

                        "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          I wasn’t aware his teaching would have clashed with the writing of Sense8? I thought that came a year or two later? I may be wrong on the dates, but the Sense8 finale was 2018, but he was teaching in 2020? I’ve taught and while I take awhile to organise, agree dates and prep the class, hardly that long.

                          Obviously we don’t know the writing dates on the novel and what other projects quietly fell apart or are covered by NDAs. However he does boast about writing quickly, writing Ninja Assassin in 53 hours, during a busier time in his career.

                          Again, I’m not stating this as a fact. I just find it hard to imagine him departing Babylon 5 in a similar way. It’s also drifting a little off topic.

                          Collaborator, colleague, co-worker, adjacent writer?

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ToonPatrol View Post
                            I wasn’t aware his teaching would have clashed with the writing of Sense8? I thought that came a year or two later? I may be wrong on the dates, but the Sense8 finale was 2018, but he was teaching in 2020? I’ve taught and while I take awhile to organise, agree dates and prep the class, hardly that long.

                            Obviously we don’t know the writing dates on the novel and what other projects quietly fell apart or are covered by NDAs. However he does boast about writing quickly, writing Ninja Assassin in 53 hours, during a busier time in his career.

                            Again, I’m not stating this as a fact. I just find it hard to imagine him departing Babylon 5 in a similar way. It’s also drifting a little off topic.

                            Collaborator, colleague, co-worker, adjacent writer?
                            I wasn't attempting to give a timeline of what he's been writing - we seldom know even the smallest part of it until and unless it's produced or at least announced. You said he didn't seem to have been busy. That's just your opinion as an outsider. None of us has any real idea how many projects he's working on at any given time except that over the years, it seems that 3-5 all in various stages is the norm.

                            "Collaborator, colleague, co-worker, adjacent writer?" All of them have different meanings. Only one of them has any possible connection to WWZ.
                            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Collaborator, colleague, co-worker, adjacent writer?" All of them have different meanings. Only one of them has any possible connection to WWZ.
                              Again, the point was how he treats them. Assuming for a moment that he does shift the blame from himself onto others, as the VFX team believes. Would he do that with a colleague, but not a co-worker?

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by ToonPatrol View Post

                                Again, the point was how he treats them. Assuming for a moment that he does shift the blame from himself onto others, as the VFX team believes. Would he do that with a colleague, but not a co-worker?
                                You want me to assume something I don't in order to make a point that makes no sense. Not playing that game. This isn't a trial. He's just a guy with all the flaws (and virtues) of any other guy. Like him or not, your choice.
                                "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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