Changing faces of the Kilrathi

Mace

Vice Admiral
evilpandayy6.jpg
 

Tigerhawk

Captain
...in search of Bamboo and burning it to hell?

I'm still laughing on that pic...methinks I shall steal it for my collection. Thanks for a late-night laugh, that's priceless.
 

Chuckles

Commodore
Not to necro this thread, but honestly if a new Wing Commander was to use FMV, I'd much rather have the Henson Company take a serious stab at making Kilrathi full-suit puppets than a CGI rendition. There's only so much CGI can do to replace a real object/actor. And if the Henson Company could produce suits that showed the range of emotion and dexterity that they did in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, then I would suspect today's incarnations would do the Kilrathi look a lot of justice.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Not to necro this thread, but honestly if a new Wing Commander was to use FMV, I'd much rather have the Henson Company take a serious stab at making Kilrathi full-suit puppets than a CGI rendition. There's only so much CGI can do to replace a real object/actor. And if the Henson Company could produce suits that showed the range of emotion and dexterity that they did in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, then I would suspect today's incarnations would do the Kilrathi look a lot of justice.

Unlike CG though puppets really haven't come very far since 1999... and basically the movie kilrathi were animatronics/puppets with people underneath.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The morning after the Wing Commander movie premiere, Chris {Reid} and I went for a tour of the Digital Anvil offices. Our guide excitedly told us about how he'd been the one responsible for CGI'ing the Kilrathi's mouths to make them look "realistic" when they spoke.

We figured it was best not to say anything to the poor guy.
 

Chuckles

Commodore
Unlike CG though puppets really haven't come very far since 1999... and basically the movie kilrathi were animatronics/puppets with people underneath.

Well, it may be my own bias, but while I'll agree CGI has made leaps and bounds, I don't think it has gotten to the point where the average CGI production can replace an actual actor if it's meant to stand eyeball to eyeball with an actual real in-the-flesh actor. Loaf's comment about the DA employee that worked on the Kilrathi somewhat illustrate that tangent of meaning well but falling short.

The main reason I support the use of full-suit puppets is that if a new Wing Commander game was to go the FMV route, then the Kilrathi should occupy the same rendering reality as the human actors. While the Kilrathi puppets of WC4 and the Movie might make us cringe, I can only imagine the amount of cringe I would have felt if they were in-house CGI. Even the bugs from Prophecy were only fully shown in very tight cuts, and Thrakath's paws had more screen time in the opening cinematic of WC3 than all the bugs in all of WCP's cinematics. While advancements in CGI might have extended the range and ability of a CGI-rendered actor, I don't think EA would put up the money for feature-film-class of development for CGI in the FMV to do the Kilrathi justice, and would come off no better than Melek in WC4.

Hence why I have personal caveat to the hope of using puppets/full-body suits for the Kilrathi, which would be the producers learning from their mistakes in the past, and going to the professionals. The professionals being the Henson Company's Creature Shop, who have spent the last 40 odd years bringing life to puppets and still continue to do so. The recent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie was a prime example of how far modern puppeteering has come, which the Henson Company did. If they were brought on, and they could produce at least the level of detail and puppeteering they did for The Dark Crystal's Skekses, I'd be happy as a clam.

Edit:
The Henson Company or Guillermo del Toro's creature shop, their work on the Hellboy and Pann's Labyrinth movies is pretty damn cool to.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
No matter how realistic you make them, you'll always look back and you would have done things differently.

I think the WC3 kilrathi did justice to the WC2 and SNES secret missions kilrathi, and remember, the hensons also did grover.

And as for screentime, how much screentime did the predator have in the first movie? or the Alien? or the Terminator -stripped-?
 

Flying Target

Swabbie
Banned
I still reckon fur is the main obstacle on that one for CGI. I expect it's still really time consuming and expensive to get right.

The men-in-suits option would probably work okay again if they concentrated enough on the faces. Sticking them in all-over body armour kinda gets around a lot of the toughest issues. In a lot of ways, given that they took that direction in the movie, it is surprising how badly they came off. The concept they used was actually pretty darned good.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I still reckon fur is the main obstacle on that one for CGI. I expect it's still really time consuming and expensive to get right.

The men-in-suits option would probably work okay again if they concentrated enough on the faces. Sticking them in all-over body armour kinda gets around a lot of the toughest issues. In a lot of ways, given that they took that direction in the movie, it is surprising how badly they came off. The concept they used was actually pretty darned good.

The biggest issue in the film isn't the design, it's that they were so bulky that they just didn't move right. Even with an actor in the suit, it was pretty cumbersome to move fluidly. Plus the facial animatronics were clunky.
 

Chuckles

Commodore
The biggest issue in the film isn't the design, it's that they were so bulky that they just didn't move right. Even with an actor in the suit, it was pretty cumbersome to move fluidly. Plus the facial animatronics were clunky.

That is the big problem you face when doing such things in-house. While the movie Kilrathi design itself wasn't totally horrible, the implementation and execution of their role in the movie left a lot to be desired. The shot setups and editing didn't do the movie Kilrathi any favors either. You could have replaced the scenes with the Kilrathi in it with cardboard cutouts and I don't think there would have been a different.

That's not a knock on the creature design, that's a knock on story boarding and actual scene shooting. They fell over soda cans, walked like rubber-suited ST:TOS aliens, and were always lit dismally for any cut that allow time to scrutinize. They had no glory shot in the movie to redeem themselves. The Kilrathi were ultimately given a second rate "WW2 Axis Power Badguy" role that gave them total superiority for the first quarter of the movie and then replaced them with inept "Hogan's Heroes" prison guard ability. You could have replaced the Kilrathi with Indiana Jones Nazi charactacures and gotten the same effect.

I can't attribute the failure of the Kilrathi's role in the movie to simply their design as puppets and full-suits. It was a compound failure on multiple levels to include Chris Roberts' direction of the scenes.

Also Mace, the point I was trying to get at was non-CGI special effects stand up better to scrutiny than CGI ones if the intent is to create actors in a real-world environment, as opposed to simply creating something fantasicial for the spectacle.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
That is the big problem you face when doing such things in-house. While the movie Kilrathi design itself wasn't totally horrible, the implementation and execution of their role in the movie left a lot to be desired. The shot setups and editing didn't do the movie Kilrathi any favors either. You could have replaced the scenes with the Kilrathi in it with cardboard cutouts and I don't think there would have been a different.

That's not a knock on the creature design, that's a knock on story boarding and actual scene shooting. They fell over soda cans, walked like rubber-suited ST:TOS aliens, and were always lit dismally for any cut that allow time to scrutinize. They had no glory shot in the movie to redeem themselves. The Kilrathi were ultimately given a second rate "WW2 Axis Power Badguy" role that gave them total superiority for the first quarter of the movie and then replaced them with inept "Hogan's Heroes" prison guard ability. You could have replaced the Kilrathi with Indiana Jones Nazi charactacures and gotten the same effect.

I can't attribute the failure of the Kilrathi's role in the movie to simply their design as puppets and full-suits. It was a compound failure on multiple levels to include Chris Roberts' direction of the scenes.

Also Mace, the point I was trying to get at was non-CGI special effects stand up better to scrutiny than CGI ones if the intent is to create actors in a real-world environment, as opposed to simply creating something fantasicial for the spectacle.

I kind of irks me when people complain about the direction for numerous reasons. I have a hard time pinpointing much of anything that you can specifically say was a problem in directing during principle photography, and most of the actors at the time praised him for his vision etc etc. Even then, some things, when the budget is limited you just don't have time or the money for the days of shooting or the film stock to go back and refilm. However, the cinematography is probably one of the strong points of the movie. Much of the flow was destroyed in the edit though. While some directors like to DP their own movies or pretty much dictate to the DP to the point where the DP might as well just be a camera operator, that isn't necessarily the film director's job. THe director tells the DP or cinematographer what he's looking for and it's usually up to them to place the camera's and decide on the lighting.

A lot of the problems with the WC movie were in the editing room though. Sure the kilrathi suits didn't work right and some of the acting was subpar. But where it concerns the kilrathi, some of the limitations were in the size of the sets (which were probably too cramped) and that we don't actually see much of what was shot *at all*. What we do see of the Kilrathi concom raid was cobled together from a much longer attack. Most of the shots we do see weren't even next to eachother originally. Blair wasn't even in the boarding party. He was the diligent's turret gunner and leaves his post part way into the raid to hunt down the phantom pilgrim signal... This stuff was shot. I've seen it.

We also lost a number of establishing shots in some of the other kilrathi conversations in the various other scenes. Instead, so that we don't really get to see them much at all, we pretty much only get to see a bunch of closeups.

A discussion for another thread is the havok the editing did to a number of other scenes in the movie... Maniac's acting is actually a lot stronger... if you can believe that... in the work print possibly from editing but also because of ADR.

The other issue was money. They basically ran out of money in post. The lip stuff LOAF mentioned was all they could afford, otherwise they probably would have done even more CG work to them then.

Someone mentioned Hellboy2 though which I believe is a combination of minatures, prosthetics, and CGI... This CGIing over the movie kilrathi is certainly doable and a way to make them more convincing should Chris Roberts ever get the money to go back and reedit the movie to make it the film he originally set out to make (which he wants to do by the way).
 

Chuckles

Commodore
I can relent. The Kilrathi issues aside, I honestly do like the movie. I'm just sometimes a nagging prick when it comes to details like that.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I can relent. The Kilrathi issues aside, I honestly do like the movie. I'm just sometimes a nagging prick when it comes to details like that.

I'll illustrate a little more: One of the early scenes in the film took place before the diligent gets to the tiger's claw. It starts with a long tracking shot though the kilrathi ship corridor and onto the bridge all the while passing a few kilrathi walking and at various posts and consoles on the bridge. There's a few other good shots there, but it was part of the traitor subplot so it got excised... This was on the Kilrathi Admiral's Snakier... not the concom of the raid. This is the same ship that we see chasing blair at the end of the movie. I bet most people never ever notice the flags on the back of the Admiral's armor in the few shots we see of him either (I think there's one on ebay right now though).

If you need to cut the traitor subplot because you didn't have enough money to CG in a merlin doll, then it kind of makes sense to cut this scene, but the result is that there's not enough kilrathi between the pegasus attack and the Tiger Claw's jump through the charybdis quasar. There also isn't enough mention of the Tiger Claw's mission for a few minutes so we end up losing the tattoo bits (though honestly even though they're interesting just weren't good, but it did have one amazing line that should definitely have been in the movie.... Blair -or was it maniac -asks paladin what the Kilrathi look like, and paladin shouts back "UGLY!") but then instead we end up moving whole scenes around with Blair delivering the disk *before* he arives on the claw on the flight deck.

Not only does dropping this one scene make the later scenes with the Kilrathi lose context this scene moving is the reason for one of the single worst edits in the whole film... (where maniac pops up with their order papers after blair calls Angel a grease monkey).
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
At heart I've always thought the movie Kilrathi were more of an original script problem than an insurmountable technology issue. In my mind, there's no reason to have the "cut to the Kilrathi talking" sequences in the first place. They should have taken a queue from Wing Commander I instead of 2/3 -- lets see the Kilrathi *only* as the main characters do instead of having an omniscient narrative that can cut to them whenever we need to see them plotting (... which is, really, cheaper storytelling.)

Show them in green/black VDUs, in the background of holovid news broadcasts, in propaganda posters, etc. Focus your Kilrathi FX on one reveal towards the end, when Blair fights one or something -- and build that up with the story (the "UGLY" scene AD mentioned sounds written for this purpose, but it's ineffective if we've already seen them talking). There are a few other reasons it doesn't work, too... without the background, two generic evil Kilrathi chatting don't matter to the audience. For the occasional cutscene in Wing Commander II we needed to know beforehand that one was their top pilot, one was their supreme leader and they both had it in for our particular character before it really mattered.
 

Raptor48

Spaceman
I'd rather not have Del Toro's visionary directing applied to the Kilrathi. It's a bit too... I can't find the right word... odd. The Kilrathi aren't meant to bee too physically complex. But I prefer the Wing Commander 1 and 2 versions of large anthropomorphic felines. I'm not sure why it ever changed from that.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I'd rather not have Del Toro's visionary directing applied to the Kilrathi. It's a bit too... I can't find the right word... odd. The Kilrathi aren't meant to bee too physically complex. But I prefer the Wing Commander 1 and 2 versions of large anthropomorphic felines. I'm not sure why it ever changed from that.

It's not the issue of complexity but how lifelike they are in live action footage. From that, something that melds the techniques of CG and animatronics from the get go and that isn't an afterthought to hide effects that didn't work so well could be a good way to acheive a level of beleivability that the puppets in WC3 and 4 didn't have.

To touch on something that LOAF said, a lot of the movie's issues do stem from the script. It isn't even that the ideas are horrible per se, but it needed at least one more draft. At the very least, it should have been decided *before* and not after shooting to cut out Merlin (since this was mostly a budget reason). The spent time and film stock filming the stuff but then decided they didn't have the money to finish the effects for Merlin pretty much before any real editing work was done (aside from perhaps an initial assembly)

THis created a number of issues, the biggest of which was that they could never quite figure out how to make the con com raid make sense without Merlin telling Blair about the signal from the ship, thus getting him to leave his post. They tried a few things that were a mess (and are in the workprints) but they were ultimiately confusing and/or just didn't make sense. So ultimately once they tested various versions they dropped the traitor subplot all together which essentially neutered the films climax. PLus it removes the context of all the hate towards Blair's heritage.

It's my opinion that it didn't matter that no one remembered who Admiral Wilson was. THat wasn't what confused people since the audience would have been more invested in Sansky and who was the traitor on the Claw. THe following sansky death scene was very good and makes the ending make not only a lot more sense but adds a level of tension not there in the theatrical cut. (Sansky has locked out a number of the Claw's systems hence they aren't able to launch drones so Blair *has* to make the jump in a Rapier).

If there had been another rewrite to get rid of Merlin before shooting, this could have been avoided. PLus a bunch of the dialogue should have had a once over too, though much of it would have benefited from the proper context too with the traitor subplot.

As far as the Kilrathi were concerned, should they have opted to have a more straightforward plot from the get go and saved the traitor stuff till a sequel had it been more successful and had a bigger budget for the second film? Maybe.
 
Top