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View Full Version : What's the deal with snakes on TV?



Paul Beardsley
2008-Sep-29, 10:15 PM
In the past few weeks I’ve been watching BBC drama of questionable quality. One example is Merlin, which is not quite mediocre, but is clearly meant for children and families, so I’ll cut it some slack.

Another is the entirely unforgivable Bonekickers, which would easily qualify as the worst piece of television were it not for the existence of Torchwood.

Both Bonekickers and Merlin feature snakes. In both cases, the snakes are done as CGI, and they are done so badly that I almost feel like crying. Honestly, if they’d gone out to a joke shop and bought a cheap rubber snake, then pulled it along with a visible thread, the effect would be more convincing and scary.

I honestly don’t understand how the makers can fail to see just how unconvincing their snakes are. Not to mention clichéd. They always hiss at the camera at the same point.

The thing is, most people are moderately familiar with snakes. If they haven’t seen them in the wild, they’ve seen them in zoos, or at least on TV.

Actually, the snake in www.badgerbadgerbadger.com is more believable than the ones in Bonekickers and Merlin.

ravens_cry
2008-Sep-29, 10:33 PM
Well, at this point in time, it is probably cheaper to have some yucky CGI, then to hire a snake wrangler.

ronin
2008-Sep-29, 10:53 PM
Well, at this point in time, it is probably cheaper to have some yucky CGI, then to hire a snake wrangler.


But I've seen amateur CG images that look better than some of the critter effects that makes it's way onto the screen these days. And by amatuer I mean created by free programs like daz3d.

ravens_cry
2008-Sep-29, 11:10 PM
Amateur have an advantage. They aren't being paid for this. So they can put as much dedication and time as they like. Pros are on a budget and a dead line. Also, I guess they just didn't care. I saw a movie where at the end they burned the house down. However, I guess because of a) low budget and b) no permission to do this, they just CGied soem computer graphics flaims in and added some sound effects. And much was the suck.

novaderrik
2008-Sep-30, 08:18 AM
Amateur have an advantage. They aren't being paid for this. So they can put as much dedication and time as they like. Pros are on a budget and a dead line. Also, I guess they just didn't care. I saw a movie where at the end they burned the house down. However, I guess because of a) low budget and b) no permission to do this, they just CGied soem computer graphics flaims in and added some sound effects. And much was the suck.
or how about in Stargate: the Ark of Truth where they spent all that time and money making flames on Adria, when it would have been much cheaper to just light her on fire and yell "action"..

3rdvogon
2008-Sep-30, 10:29 AM
In the past few weeks I’ve been watching BBC drama of questionable quality. One example is Merlin, which is not quite mediocre, but is clearly meant for children and families, so I’ll cut it some slack.

Another is the entirely unforgivable Bonekickers, which would easily qualify as the worst piece of television were it not for the existence of Torchwood.



I find so much UK TV drama these days so dismal. I did not see the snakes but I watched one episode of Bonekickers and groaned. You do not need to be an archaeologist to feel insulted by that drama anyone who has watched a few episodes of Time Team would see how dire it is. Then again there is Primary Evil (CGI overload). It makes me stop and wonder, am I living in the same country, watching the same television services that produced things like Edge of Darkness?

Weird Dave
2008-Sep-30, 10:59 PM
Reminds me of the first Harry Potter film that featured an incredibly fake-looking CGI centaur. The front part of centaurs exist - they're called "people" - and it surely would have worked out better (and possibly cheaper) to film an actor against green screen and insert him onto a CG horse. And since horses also existed last time I looked, they could have used a real horse for that part of the body and used computers just to superimpose the two images. This is basically what the BBC did when they filmed Narnia ages ago, which worked fine except that nobody had invented motion control yet, so the horse and person didn't quite join in the same place.

Still looked better than sloppy CGI though.

ravens_cry
2008-Sep-30, 11:15 PM
I am sure motion control had been invented by then, it was after all used in the Star Wars, it is just that the production couldn't afford it. That series WAS on a real shoestring of a budget, and I think they did a good job with what they had.
And though the animation was rather sucky, it felt. . .awkward, I liked how the centaur looked in Harry Potter. It was a much more seamless build, then a shirtless man in green tights, and better then how it was described in the book.I liked how he looked all wild and woolly and strong, though it was a bit 'uncanny valley' at points.

Weird Dave
2008-Oct-01, 08:44 AM
I am sure motion control had been invented by then, it was after all used in the Star Wars, it is just that the production couldn't afford it. That series WAS on a real shoestring of a budget, and I think they did a good job with what they had.
Yes, that's probably more accurate.

Paul Beardsley
2008-Oct-01, 09:46 AM
Your point is well made, Weird Dave.

The fact that component parts of fantasy creatures exist – and, of course, the entirety of snakes – should be reason enough to say, “Hmm, is CGI the right way to go?” If someone were to film the Larry Niven stories and feature the Puppeteers, then it would make perfect sense to use some CGI. But the unthinking dependence on it is not good.

In the programmes I mentioned – Bonekickers and Merlin – the snakes were not doing anything remarkable that an ordinary snake could not have done. They could have done the same scenes with real snakes without putting anyone in danger. Granted, it might have cost more to hire a snake handler, but at least they wouldn’t have audiences thinking they can run down corridors checking rooms.

Noclevername
2008-Oct-07, 02:19 PM
Also, I guess they just didn't care.

I think that sums up the reason why quite nicely.

jokergirl
2008-Oct-07, 02:43 PM
CGI has really spoiled good special effects. Some of the snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark were rubber hoses, and they looked better than that.

As I keep saying, limiting the possibilities brings forth art.

;)

Paul Beardsley
2008-Oct-07, 10:08 PM
As I keep saying, limiting the possibilities brings forth art.

And I'll keep right on agreeing with you.

Romanus
2008-Oct-07, 10:17 PM
Maybe snakes--like water surfaces--are difficult to do well in CGI. For instance, the snake F/X in Anaconda, Snakes on a Plane (perhaps intentional), and even the first Harry Potter are all noticeably fake. Yet, the "huge" dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the T-1000 have aged well; go figure.

Krel
2008-Oct-07, 11:51 PM
Romanus sparked a memory, and not necessarily a good one. Years ago "Anaconda" was on tv, so I watched it, and one scene stood out. The boat had run aground in front of a waterfall, so they were going to winch it back off. They did the scene by reversing the footage where the boat runs aground, complete with water flowing up the waterfall!

David.

HenrikOlsen
2008-Oct-08, 03:42 PM
Yet, the "huge" dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the T-1000 have aged well; go figure.
T-1000 aged well because the perfectly reflecting surface is the easiest to do in CGI together with "the checkerboard that doesn't resemble any particular material" and those where the ones used, apart from straightforward morphs of actual footage.
The Jurassic Park dinos aged well because they spent the money required to make them right, apart from the brachiosaurus where the scale messed up things because it looks inherently fake when we've never seen anything at that scale move in real life.

sabianq
2008-Oct-08, 06:35 PM
HA! i thought this thread was about some of the current debates we are seeing on TV.

mike alexander
2008-Oct-08, 07:43 PM
I like snakes.

BigDon
2008-Oct-08, 08:27 PM
Oh wait you guys!

I saw an effect so badly done its embarrassing to even repeat. I was ten years old and I blushed for them

Get this.

A scuba movie done in the fifties. Oooh adventure! Peril! Leading ladies in bullet bras!

These idiotss were so cheap the "underwater" sequences were done on a soundstage by guys wearing scuba gear *walking upright* and making swimming motions with their arms while someone off camera ran a "Lawrence Welk" style bubble machine at full blast.

And it wasn't even the "breast stroke" they were pretending to do but that silly *** "put the back of your hands together in front of your face" stroke, like you were parting tall grass to peer through it. Like kindergardeners pretending to be fish.

Oh somebody else has got to have seen that dog! You'ld remember!

Ara Pacis
2008-Oct-08, 11:26 PM
I think they get the kinematics wrong too. From what I've seen the snakes move impossibly fast and in a non-snake motion. They look like CGO ropes being pulled by a string instead of ophidian undulations.

BigDon
2008-Oct-09, 01:15 AM
I like snakes.

How many do you have? I'm down to a ball python at the moment.

Krel
2008-Oct-09, 03:28 AM
Oh wait you guys!

I saw an effect so badly done its embarrassing to even repeat. I was ten years old and I blushed for them

Get this.

A scuba movie done in the fifties. Oooh adventure! Peril! Leading ladies in bullet bras!

These idiotss were so cheap the "underwater" sequences were done on a soundstage by guys wearing scuba gear *walking upright* and making swimming motions with their arms while someone off camera ran a "Lawrence Welk" style bubble machine at full blast.

And it wasn't even the "breast stroke" they were pretending to do but that silly *** "put the back of your hands together in front of your face" stroke, like you were parting tall grass to peer through it. Like kindergardeners pretending to be fish.

Oh somebody else has got to have seen that dog! You'ld remember!

The really sad thing is that I know what movie this is, "The Underwater City": http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056637/ I haven't seen it in years, or decades, but I remember it being a fun little movie.

David.

BigDon
2008-Oct-09, 03:59 AM
THANK YOU!! For years people said I was making that up!

BigDon
2008-Oct-09, 04:31 AM
Back on Subject:

How about that painful Anaconda? With its cartoon snake. They have to learn to slow down to avoid large objects looking cartoony

Joe Boy
2008-Oct-09, 05:17 AM
I like snakes.

JOEBOYIPEDIA

SNAKE: def.
Slithering, slimey, slippery, evil, legless, sneaky, smelly, terrible, offensive, untrustworthy, souless, agressive, heartless, poiseness, lethal, scaly, Godless, mysterious, alien, terrifying,
mutant animals. (other than that they are okay)

In short, Joe (coward) Boy is deathly afraid of snakes. I believe it is called ophidophobia or something like that. I have been face to face with bears, wolves, mad dogs, big cats, snapping turtles. Slept in haunted houses, walked through the deepest scariest darkest forests in the middle of the night. I've teased bison in the Black Hills and barely got away with my life. I've teased mean dogs when I was a small boy, was chased by a wild boar and dared bulls in pastures. I once made a bull elk so mad he ripped a tree out by the roots trying to get me. Okay, not too smart I know. Never the less, if there is a snake in the room I shall leave and never return. I am just as terrified of non-lethal snakes as I am of poisoness snakes. I don't like them and they don't like me. In my third year of college a girl had her pet python in biology class. Everyone was touching it, holding it etc. I kept my distance, as far as I could on the other side of the room. It seemed pretty tame and friendly, or non-agressive at least. It was well known that I was afraid of snakes. My classmates suggested to her that she show me her snake. When the snake got about four feet from me it opened its mouth and hissed looking me right in the eye. The snake then bit her and wouldn't let go. By then I was down the hall in full retreat. She told me later that her snake had never shown any agression at all outside of eating mice. She had never in four years even seen the snake open its mouth unless it was eating. That wasn't an isolated event in my life with regards to snakes. There have been other indications that they don't like me but enough is enough. They don't like me and I am scared to death of them--joe

Noclevername
2008-Oct-14, 02:51 AM
Got a couple pics of a good-sized snake on my phone camera on vacation this year. About ten or fifteen feet away, on a riverbed rock; just coiled up, taking in the sun, he ran off before I did. If I can I'll link it later.