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Everything is fake.
January 1, 2010 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Stargate Studios opened in 1989, and has been doing visual effects for some the most successful tv shows of the past few years such as Heroes, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and 24. Green screens allow them to artificially blend and create scenes that you wouldn't expect. Their official website has more on their Virtual Backlot and other Tech Demos.
posted by OrangeSoda (26 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wowsa ... some awesome videos showing how fake it really is. The Ugly Betty ones surprised me at the extent they go to.
posted by msbutah at 9:26 PM on January 1, 2010


Yeah, that shocked me too. The entire scenes are pretty much CG.
posted by OrangeSoda at 9:36 PM on January 1, 2010


YATTA!!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:32 PM on January 1, 2010


Wow. I would never have known. Especially the Ugly Betty stuff: I always thought they shot on location a lot. I'm having like a whole ontological crisis here.
posted by SoftRain at 10:35 PM on January 1, 2010


Wow, that's really amazing. I had no idea there was so much green screening in shows like Ugly Betty.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:47 PM on January 1, 2010


They have way more examples of the Virtual Backlot than I would have expected. They have a whole archive of the different cities/locations you can choose from. Pretty cool company!
posted by azarbayejani at 11:22 PM on January 1, 2010


This comment was filmed in front of a green screen.
posted by device55 at 12:40 AM on January 2, 2010


Does anyone know which compositing s/w is used typically in these high-end productions? I'm guessing it's not Keylight/AE.
posted by Gyan at 2:56 AM on January 2, 2010


I lived in DC for four years, and Bones premiered while I was living there, which is set in DC. Having also lived in New York I was curious about how you couldn't go out for coffee there without hearing how a street was blocked off to shoot a Law & Order scene, and yet there was never anything about the multiple exterior shots of Emily Deschanel or David Boreanaz walking out of the FBI building, Library of Congress, etc.

The real irony is I went to film school, and I honestly had no idea the technology was this advanced. I remember in 2002 in a class we saw a clip of the Highlander series, and I remarked how fake the Paris backdrop of a scene was, only to discover that it really was Paris and the show was made by a French production company.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:10 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gyan: Not sure in this specific case, but Nuke is very widely used lately, especially after Apple left Shake to rot. I think Fusion is reasonably popular too, and older standbys like Flame/Inferno are still used a lot, although from what I'm seeing, they're more popular in the commercial/"client looking over your shoulder" space now.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:30 AM on January 2, 2010


When actors dream, do they just see endless expanses of green? Also, as XQUZYPHYR implies, this is bad news for cities like New York that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.
posted by gwint at 5:44 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is bad news for cities like Vancouver, Canada that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.

FTFY
posted by schwa at 6:09 AM on January 2, 2010


Marvelous. While greening the Capitol or Times Square makes tons of sense from a production standpoint.. but Ugly Betty? Has what, four locations? Five? I guess I'm not familiar enough with the show but how cheap can this possibly be to warrant use when you don't have large crowds/locations to lock down?

Impressive...
posted by cavalier at 6:51 AM on January 2, 2010


this is bad news for cities like Vancouver, Canada that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.

FTFY


In what way, schwa? Are you unaware that NYC is the site of countless TV & film shots per year?
posted by IAmBroom at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2010


I remarked how fake the Paris backdrop of a scene was, only to discover that it really was Paris and the show was made by a French production company.

A tiny bit off-topic, but I remember on the extras from Master & Commander the special effects guys talking about how they'd watched actual archival footage of sailing ships at sea to see what it should look like--and the archival footage looked really fake. So they had to figure out how to make it fake in a way that would look real on film. I found that interesting.
posted by not that girl at 7:25 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is bad news for cities like Vancouver, Canada that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.

Interestingly, their website notes that they also have a Vancouver studio.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:28 AM on January 2, 2010


This NYT article from 2003 claims $227 million from location fees in 2001. I'm not having luck finding the equivalent for Vancouver, but it's clear a lot of filming goes on there.
posted by gwint at 7:34 AM on January 2, 2010


Samantha Tapping (a Stargate SG-1 alum) produced a show for the web that got picked up by Sci-Fi called Sanctuary. Part of the whole sell pitch was that using this type of technology was much cheaper than shooting on locations and building sets. The tv produced stuff can be pretty interesting.

I hadn't before this video, like everyone else, realized how widespread the use of green screens were. And they did work on the 1996 Olympics...wha?

As for Bones, it can be painful to watch (as much as I enjoy the show) to see landscape that is blatantly southern California and not Virginia.
posted by Atreides at 7:43 AM on January 2, 2010


Yeah, we're going to be seeing more of this Virtual Backlot technology because it is so much cheaper than hauling a crew to a new location all the time... and also the conditions can always be controlled(No bad weather).
posted by OrangeSoda at 7:52 AM on January 2, 2010


this is bad news for cities like Vancouver, Canada that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.

Vancouver needs to develop more original, sustainable industries that do not rely on the whims of currency markets and executives residing thousands of miles away.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:40 AM on January 2, 2010


Also, as XQUZYPHYR implies, this is bad news for cities like New York that typically receive millions of dollars a year in fees for location shooting.

To be honest, I wasn't really implying that it can be a risk for on-location filming. I honestly doubt that those revenues, especially for New York, are anything compared to overall tourism revenues, and frankly, it's not like Hollywood restricting everything to one location is a strange new thing. That's sort of why Hollywood is Hollywood- because they shot all the films there and pretended it was Chicago, the Wild West, Camelot, etc.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:58 AM on January 2, 2010


It looks like photosynth, in the demo reel, when they pull in all the various elements that make up the scene... many hate cgi, but this type of technology will bring the ability to be Anywhere... to the basement indie films of tomorrow. Some then will say... bah who needs that... just write a good story already...
So, ok, now we have written a great story, now we need to be able to pretend to be in paris (with a shoestring, and briefcase full of hope. And a bucket of weird stories that hollywood traditionalists wouldn't touch with a 10 foot boom pole...)... cgi tech; takes people ten more steps towards this ability being affordable reality.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2010


There is a reason it is a revenue source for cities to be used in location shooting... but not everything that benefits a city, or country is beneficial to some artist with a good story and motivation to create that vision; hollywood of tommorrow can be a basement, and this reel was awesome to me, as I have long thought that the true value for cgi was not in making a billion dollar movie event sci fi scectacular summer blockbuster... but in using it to make simple dramas, subtle additions and artistic alterations (getting a great sunset, rather than sitting around with your production crew waiting for that perfect lighting... just write it well; cast it well, and just shoot it. Alter as needed.

I don't see cgi mega spectaculars being the major benefactors from this type of tech, it will be the places where it is used and no one even notices that is where cgi takes wing.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:37 AM on January 2, 2010


Besides, Stargate Studios already has a Vancouver location
posted by KokuRyu at 4:40 PM on January 2, 2010


Amanda Tapping, the SG1 character was Samantha Carter.
posted by MikeKD at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2010


This reminds me so much of Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age technology where actors are hired on contract but only work in small black cubicles nowhere near other actors. Each acts their part with the defined parameters, (i.e., you're walking down a street in Russia, you have a briefcase, in 20 paces you'll exchange it with another actor standing in front of you).

The actor's motion captured and inserted real-time into the scene with the other actors working on the same project.

Combine the technology in this post with high-speed data connectivity and the motion-capture recently used with Avatar and you're almost there.
posted by odinsdream at 7:45 AM on January 7, 2010


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