will the real viper please stand up?


So, you think you’re a sharp-eyed DarthMojo reader?  Do you have what it takes to spot the difference between real and CGI?  In the above image, one Viper is a frame-grab from an episode of the original 1979 Battlestar Galactica  and the other is 100% computer generated.   Can you tell which is which?  Click the image to get the full-size picture, put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and give us your best guess in the comments section.  On Tuesday, we’ll reveal the answer and give you a glimpse into how we produced the forgery!  May the Lords of Kobol be with you…


81 Responses to “will the real viper please stand up?”

  1. 1 Freevo
    January 31, 2009 at 3:31 am

    This is absolutely awesome, it’s very nicely done. Yet I think the second one is the CGI. It is a bit more detailed (which is kinda weird for a CGI, but given the 30-year timespan between the two images, it’s okay), and also it is better lit, and has better contrast. I hope I’m right, and I’m looking forward to the details on Tuesday! :)

  2. 2 lennier1
    January 31, 2009 at 3:36 am

    I´d assume the lower one is CGI because details like the shadowing on the wing´s leading edge, the wing´s aft edge and several of the greebles are better defined than in the one on top. And there´s also some difference in the camera lens distortion that divides both images.

  3. 3 Andy
    January 31, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Neck on the line … top one is real? Have to say it’s hard to tell, hats off to you for getting it soooooo close.

  4. January 31, 2009 at 3:39 am

    I think the top one is real and the bottom one is CGI. But I might be wrong. :)

  5. January 31, 2009 at 5:55 am

    There is a star visible through the cockpit window on the bottom image. The original show probably used a traveling matte around the outline of the Viper, meaning no stars could be visible through the glass unless the original effects artists went to all the trouble of carving out the little holes. For this reason I am voting for the bottom image as GCI. My one reservation about this is that there is some apparent film grain in the bottom image. I’d be interested in learning if I’m just plain wrong or if this film grain was added intentionally.

  6. January 31, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Easy Peasy! ;o) hehe

    The Bottom one is the CG one – there’s a couple of reasons I think so and I’ll mention them if you want me to. :o)

  7. January 31, 2009 at 6:09 am

    I think the top image is real, the details are blurred out and the paint stripe on the wing and top pulsar are faded out. Looking more consistant with a videotaped image. The details on the bottom viper pic are very clear and the red stripe stands out more. Great weathering and lighting on the rendered image however. Than again I could be completely wrong.

  8. January 31, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Second one is CGI. Some reasons were allready mentioned, I would like to add the boosters exhaust.

  9. 9 Hardhat
    January 31, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I vote bottom one as CG too.

    For me it’s the red stripe decals that tip it.

    Damn close though!


  10. 10 Gecko
    January 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I’m with the other folks: the top one is real and bottom one is CGI.

    Some pointers/assumptions (which probably make me look like a fool):
    – You can see inside the cockpit on the bottom one.
    – Some more detail on the bottom one on things a real-world modeler might have rather less than more. e.g. The riffles at the back of the engines and the detail work on the engines at about the middle of the raptor.
    – The thingies below the cockpit where the wings meet the main body (are those the guns?) are a little skewed in the top image.
    – The trapezoidial part between the engines, which is not painted with the red stripe, has larger gaps at the edges to the main body which give some (probably unwanted) shadow in the top picture. Most likely also a real-world modeling issue.
    – The section between the three engine outlets is unlit in the bottom picture which to me hints at a more refined use of lighting as you would be able to do with CGI.

  11. January 31, 2009 at 6:37 am

    The top one is real – without even referring to the ship, you can see the way the TV scan lines have affected the picture, and of course a couple of bits of dust on the film frame. Other than that, there is just so much more detail on the go faster stripes etc. on the CGI one.

    Excellent work though!

  12. 12 ety3
    January 31, 2009 at 6:54 am

    It looks like my “gut” is agreeing with everyone else here. The top is real; the bottom is CG. Again, I have nothing, really, to base that on. There’s no one detail for me to point to and say, “Aha! The Viper model didn’t have that thingamabob there.”

    Well done, regardless. Very nice.

    And if I may ask: was this OG Viper rendered for the new show or just something you did for kicks (or a different gig)?

  13. 13 Matt
    January 31, 2009 at 6:56 am

    The bottom is CGI.

  14. 14 Matt
    January 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I will elucidate: In the bottom image you can see a star through the canopy, in the top you can’t see anything in the canopy. I suspect the lighting of the original object would have prevented any visibility in the canopy. pretty sure the stars were small bulbs and would have never shown all the way through the canopy and not been overwhelmed by the illumination of the object itself.

    Correct or flawed, that is my “logic”. ;)

  15. January 31, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I think the bottom one is the CGI one. I haven’t seen TOBSG on DVD, only on Hulu.com, so I could be wrong about the amount of detail present in the effects work, but the details on the exhaust cones and the forward exposed portions of the engines on the bottom one look too good for TV effects from 1979. I’d also be surprised if they got fancy and went with translucent cockpits on their models on the show.

  16. 16 Boris
    January 31, 2009 at 7:17 am

    The bottom one is computer-generated, because the horizontal red marking on the top fin lines up with the top edge of the fin, whereas it doesn’t quite line up in the picture above. I don’t think a professional CG modeler would make such an obvious mistake as part of a hobby project, but I can see it happening in “real life”.

  17. 17 Steve
    January 31, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Hard to tell but i would guess the bottom one is CGI as well

  18. 18 Dan
    January 31, 2009 at 7:34 am

    First one is the real model second one is CG. They look about %95 the same. The only difference is on the second one you can see the details more clearly. The lighting is a bit brighter in the area where the shadows are.

  19. 19 Greg
    January 31, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I have go with the top image as the real model and the lower as the CGI. The lighting is where I’m looking for clues, and the bluish tint and softer shadows looks more typical of model photography.

  20. 20 N3RD
    January 31, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Like everyone before me I say: So upper one is the real thing, the lower ohne the CGI.
    You see it because the lines of the lower one are more clear, in the one above you see some mistakes of not-that-good construction. For example the Laser of the upper one isn´t in line with the ships body but looks down. The Laser of the CGI-Ship looks straight forward.
    Hope I am right, shame on me if not;)

    But hell yeah, on the first look it is damned hard to see ANY differences!

  21. 21 Mirage
    January 31, 2009 at 8:26 am

    I think the top one is realy because it has scanlines from the screencap and the bottom one has not

  22. January 31, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I think the top is real (well, model) and the bottom is CGI. My wife thinks it’s the other way around!

  23. January 31, 2009 at 8:49 am

    My guess (before reading any comments) was that the second image was CGI. The lines seem cleaner on some of the details, but you could still have us all fooled. There’s one detail on the engines of the top image that has me doubting whether it’s the studio model, but I’ll stick with my first instinct. :)

  24. 24 jasonof2000
    January 31, 2009 at 8:49 am

    The bottom one is CGI, it has better detail and is clearer.

  25. 25 Robb
    January 31, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Top is real, bottom is cgi. The bottom one is missing the right wing. Either this is (gasp!) a mistake, or the top one is cgi and incorrectly renders what should be an invisible wing, which means extra work correcting for what was not present in reality, hence my guess.
    Also, the textures at the back of the engine are sharper on the bottom, and the starfield looks a bit more diverse (more variation in brightness, I *think*). Also, the gun on the top image looks bent or at least misaligned. The color temp on the first viper image looks to be a bit warmer than the 2nd.

    Great work! I’m sorry you can’t render your car back to it’s original perfection in similar fashion!

  26. 26 Patrick
    January 31, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Top is “real” and bottom CGI? The reason I think this is because parts of the top one seem more arbitrarily vague, as though filmed and processed photo-chemically.

  27. January 31, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I’d say the top is the model. The cockpit is a bit cloudier, the glow from the engines is not as neat. I had a model Viper when I was a kid. I seem to remember the notch on the upper exhaust cowl. Also, the perspective on the rear seems a little off on the bottom image.

  28. 28 Brent
    January 31, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I’m almost positive the top is real and the bottom is CG. Its all in the engine details and the engine glow.

  29. 29 Chad N.
    January 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Top one doesn’t have clarity of definition as the bottom does. It’s kinda fuzzy.

    The bottom one is a bit more ‘crisp’. Plus some added paintjob, dirt, shadow detailing not seen on the top Viper.

    My guess, the top one is the real model. Bottom CG.

    (Is there a little model pilot in the top one?)

  30. January 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I’m going to have to agree with the above posters. Top one is real, bottom one is CGI, but they are very close!

  31. January 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I’m with the rest, I think top is real, bottom is CGI — something about the tip of the nose, the detail/shape of the lower wing, and the quality of “heat” from the engines — but I could almost argue the other way. Trying to judge by film grain didn’t work for me. I’m pretty sure, yeah, the top is the original.

    If we’re all wrong, you’ll have some stunned readers, I think.


  32. 32 Jason G
    January 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think the second one is the CGI. The top one has a bit more noise in, which makes me think it is a capture. But they are very, very, close. Good job.

    On a sidenote – are you going to publish more goodies from B5?

  33. 33 sebimeyer
    January 31, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I honestly have no clue. It’s not like the Titanic render where they asked which people on the deck were digital, and all them were, is it?

    Either way, this is hilarious. Look what our technology can do! We can now make things look like they did 30 years ago! Isn’t that awesome! ;)

    I kid, of course. It IS awesome, because it looks more real.

  34. 34 Boris
    January 31, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Or was the top part of the fin cut off?

  35. January 31, 2009 at 11:36 am

    The top one looks like it’s a model shot close up for a blue-screen background, as seen in 1970s videos. The bottom one looks like a newer shot – it’s crisper, more modern looking.

  36. 36 Romantique
    January 31, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I agree with most everyone here so far – the top one is real and the bottom one is CGI. It’s the stars in the background – the ones on top look more fake to me (and therefore it’s the “real” Viper) and the ones in the bottom look more realistic and therefore more likely to be CGI.

  37. 37 peter noble
    January 31, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    The bottom one is the CGI one because the lighting cans of the engines aren’t sticking out far enough.

    The shape of the intakes seems off and the details look too sharp.

  38. January 31, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    My suspicion is the lower one is the CGI created one because of the interior cockpit. In the top one, it looks a tad too much like a Mattel doll propped against the window. Also, in the bottom one, the glass is transparent to the point that we can see stars showing; the top one should also show stars, and yet it’s absent which I suspect is an artifact of the limitations of TV green-screening at the time.

    In any case, thanks for posting the image. For all those old BSG fans who insist Moore and Eick have raped their childhood for showing a complete lack of respect for the original version, your work here shows that nothing could be further from that.

    Oh, and while there was not much in the way of CG work for “The Oath”, kudos nonetheless on a wonderful episode which I enjoyed writing a review for on my blog. It’s dramatic story-telling at its very best. Once again, I am envious of your being a part of this wonderful work. You lucky bugger. :)

  39. January 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    My guess is the top one is the original. It looks like you can see the pilot’s helmet, which was lighter back then.

    Either way, impressive job.

  40. 40 mgl
    January 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I’m going to buck the mainstream and guess that the top one is CGI. The bottom one looks like it could conceivably be a plastic model, what with the detailing on the engine nozzles and the more precise paintwork. It could be a lovingly-crafted miniature.

    The top one looks like a Viper that’s been through the wars, to the point that the engine nozzles are stained and beat-up looking, it’s covered in suspiciously 3D-looking dings and the paintwork is also a bit of a mess. That seems more in line with the trend towards documentary-style realism in the new BSG.

  41. 41 petronius
    January 31, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I’ll bet the top one is the screencap and the bottom one is CGI, if only because of the way the perspective is warped.

  42. 42 Fred
    January 31, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I hold the top is the real and the bottom CGI. For me, look at the cockpit. The top image has a solid ‘black area’ inside. The bottom shows like glass, with a star visible thru it as one would expect. That type of detail likely would not have been present back during the original show with model technology of the time.

  43. 43 backstept
    January 31, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    if you were going to ‘restore’ TOSBSG this would be the way to do it :D

  44. 44 Eugenia
    January 31, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    My guess: Top one is the model viper and the bottom one is CGI viper.

    Why: The top one’s lines of the engine and the nose match up for perspective of an image taken of an actual object. The bottom one looks “bent”.

    Also the lighting of the top one emphasizes the depth and volume of the viper particularly at the top between the cockpit and the fin. (The lighting crew of the original did a magnificent job, by the way. Both FX and otherwise. The Centurions may have been a nightmare to film, but the shiny armour looks so good.)

    It’s the same thing as Balanchine noted about TV. It “flattens” things and reduces the “depth” axis.

    By using models (an actual object) and lighting, the original FX crew emphasized the depth axis to get the illusion of a 3D object across on a flat medium (film, videotape, whatever). It’s the same techniques (aka “cheats” or “fudge factors”) that stage designers used particularly in the Restoration theatre.

    (Of course, the bottom one could have been a really good picture of a screen grab of the original on an old fashioned cathode-ray tube TV with the curvy front that tended to warp things at the edges and with the “brightness” setting cranked up.)

  45. January 31, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    The bottom one is the real Viper.

  46. January 31, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I am going to say that the top is the original, and the bottom the CGI.

    A few reasons:

    1) On parts of the top viper you can see faint scan lines, but it isn’t consistent all over, giving the impression of an image captured from tape and then compressed.

    2) The film grain on the second image is a little bit too clean, looking like the Photoshop film grain filter. The entire Viper has a multi coloured grain on it that I would expect to be a bit blurrier if it had been through the few layers of transfer involved in original shot -> videotape -> capture -> compression to a jpg.

    3) The second model is too good. All the parts fit together perfectly, the lighting implies that cylinders are perfectly round etc. The first shot looks like a model because in the detail of joins there are lots of small imperfections, slight misalignments.

    4) Finally, the second image seems to have too much detail for an NTSC video image.

    Very nice job though, and if this was animated on the tv with the appropriate motion blur etc I doubt I would notice it was a slipped in CGI shot. :)

  47. 47 Puguglybonehead
    January 31, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    The clue about the stars being visible through the canopy in the bottom picture makes a lot of sense. I remember reading in an old issue of Cinefantastique, that the shooting models for ILM’s productions had to have absolutely no reflective surfaces (that would mean no realistic canopies). Clear shiny canopies were tried at first on the models, but because they were shot in front of a blue-screen, they would end up with bits of unwanted blue-screen reflections on various parts of the model. When they went to composite the footage with a background shot, the ship would end up with “holes” poking through it. Film-compositing processes used in those days were very labour-intensive and very expensive. So, this lead to the characteristic all-matte surface look of ILM’s space shots from that era. They usually just painted the space fighter canopies all black.

    My vote is with the majority. The bottom ship is CG.

  48. January 31, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I’m having to go with the top one being real.
    The patterning on the engine’s burnercans in the top looks like it’s generating scanline interference. The plaque on the nearest lower burnercan looks much sharper in the lower pic. Also the leading edge of the top intake looks scanliney.
    The flanges on the trailing edges of the inlet rams look more “whittled” on the top one, rather than the different colour, better defined clips on the lower one. The stars in the lower image look a lot more regular, too, which kinda sez Particle/Line Thickness 2 pixels to me.

    That said, I eagerly await The Truth (wouldn’t put it past you to make your render look scanliney to throw us off!) and learning more about taking pristine renders and digitally beating the crap out of them ;)

  49. 49 Captain Romulus
    January 31, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I want to go with the crowd and say “top real” and “bottom CGI”. The top one LOOKS like 30 year old filmstock with a decent digital transfer, and the “bloom” from the engine exhaust lighting looks “warmer”, like somrething filmed would.

    That said, I can’t put it past MOJO and the gang to pull a headfake on us. Give us an image that has all the marks we EXPECT to see in film, only moreso, but is really CGI. Then put it against an exceptionally good frame grab under just the right lightin and angle.

    I just can’t make up my mind…

  50. 50 drippingwithbias
    January 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    The Top is real.
    The Bottom is Fake.

    How did I figure it out?
    The bottom’s image is DRIPPING with photoshop generated noise. Noise is not commonly found in movies and tv shows because it reduces quality. But with a good photoshop, it degrades the picture making it seem…. TV like.

  51. January 31, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I think it’s almost obvious that it’s the bottom one. If I’m wrong, I’ll feel like a dumbass though lol.

  52. 52 JMH
    January 31, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    I’m really impressed. I can’t tell for sure which one is the CGI. I agree with the points of most of the posters above, but I suspect that the top image is CGI and the bottom is the model. Here’s why: Back when they were making the original BSG and Star Wars, the cockpit canopies of the models didn’t have any kind of glass or plastic in them, because the reflective surface would cause lighting problems. Matt thinks the star visible through the cockpit canopy shows that it is CGI, but I think it shows that it is the model since without glass, nothing would prevent the blue screen of the travelling matte from showing through. On the top image, you can see a reflection in the upper right portion of the canopy. You wouldn’t get such a reflection on one of the original models.

  53. 53 darthmojo
    January 31, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I have to say, I’m really impressed with the discussion this has generated! I’m flattered that so many of you have taken the time to really analyze the images and post your findings and theories. All of your comments have turned this into one of the most thought-provoking and educational posts to have graced this blog. I salute you all!

    I promise the follow-up post will be full of step by step pics and the thought process that went into making the CG image. It was an incredibly fun – and educational – experience to create that picture and I’m glad everyone is enjoying it.

  54. 54 Buckaroohawk
    January 31, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    It’s a testament to both the model-makers from the original show and to the CGI artist(s) who created the 3D model that it’s so hard to tell which is which.

    I’m with just about everyone else here: The top image is the physical model and the lower image is CGI.

  55. 55 sithlord_1968
    February 1, 2009 at 12:51 am

    The give away has nothing to do with the ships.

    The star field in the top one looks like pin pricks on a black background compared to the muli-star systems with various classes of stars as seen on the bottom picture. Without that, it would be really hard to tell from just the ships.

  56. February 1, 2009 at 5:51 am

    I think the next time you do a little quiz like this… make BOTH of the images CG. :)

  57. February 1, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Well, duh. You guys can be all picky about grain or fuzz or stars. But it’s obvious.
    The laser torpedo unit on the bottom one is all wrong. The Dykstra phase coupler is too small and in conjunction with the shroud over the Beasley regulator (whose idea was that?) would cause dangerous levels of Tylium radiation to build up resulting in catastrophic failure under standard operational parameters. That’s not even taking into account how close the emitter housing is to the superstructure. The feedback arc would be devastating. For crying out loud are you trying to kill our pilots? Whose side are you on?

  58. 58 JeffrySG
    February 1, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Yeah, I’d have to go with bottom=CG. Interesting post and comments!

  59. 59 darthmojo
    February 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    DAREN: Who says they’re not already?

  60. 60 Butch
    February 1, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Definitely the bottom is CG. All of the sharp edges that are supposed to be nice and beveled soft are still a bit sharp.

  61. February 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    ‘Thought I’d add my voice to the chorus:

    I going with the bottom being CGI. Before reading the comments, what clinched it for me were the apparent scanlines in the top image, which are most apparent on the kibble between the two engine cylinders and along the bottom edge of the wing. Also, the film grain on the top image looks more like the broadcast TV screen caps I’m used to.

    Brain raised an excellent point about the star being visible through the cockpit on the bottom image as well.

    ‘Fascinating post, as always. I’m looking forward to Tuesday to see just how smart/dumb I am.

  62. 62 JJ
    February 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Since I assume that Mojo will be reading these comments to see how people voted, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say how much I love this blog. Thank you, Mojo, for posting all of this awesome stuff — not just the pictures and samples of your work, but also your stories and insights. The whole site is just great.

    A few months ago, you promised to post some stuff on Cylon baseships, and if I recall correctly, you hinted at some stuff on the classic baseship design. If you could find it in your heart to post some of that, you would bring great happiness to fans who are already in pre-mourning for the imminent loss of their show.

  63. 63 Gep Malakai
    February 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    The bottom is the CGI. More detail in the model, and the lighting it too “even” to be a model. Portions of the engines look too washed out in that way that CGI sometimes has.

  64. February 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I’d say the top is the real one, the bottom pic CGI. The detail on the top Viper’s engine’s looks like real parts – they’re somewhat messy and not all perfectly the same size/shape, unlike the bottom Viper’s same area which looks extremely neat and perfectly sized/shaped.

  65. 65 Melchior
    February 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I’m going to go with the top is CGI, only because the edges of the model are slightly jaggy compared to the bottom. It’s the unpopular choice!

  66. 66 Judd Sandage
    February 2, 2009 at 1:06 am

    heh, yeah they both could be CG, but I am going to go out on a limb and claim the top is the fake as the bottom is photochopped, look at the lower wing right in the middle on the top edge of the red line, it has the blurriness of the copy and or blur tool and it looks like someone removed something from the image (trust me on the blur effects) the top one seems just right, it looks like the shooting models, but the bottom looks like the full size mock-up and they wouldn’t need to have the second wing on the other side, they just need to be careful not to film that side. and I hate to do this but… you can see it here:


    also for no light thru the cockpit it seems (from 10min surfing the web) all vipers form the original pilot episode had blacked out canopys where as later episodes seem to have transparent ones.

  67. February 2, 2009 at 3:11 am

    I think the lower picture of the Viper is the synth. It’s got a bit more contrast than the top frame and I always remember Galactica shots always looked a bit flat.(And golf ball sized stars.) My only thought is that the engine flare on the top frame looks CGI….No…It’s the lower picture. Lower picture is CGI!

  68. 68 jk
    February 2, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Going with the crowd and saying that the top is real. One of the things I remember from the old show is that many of the EFX shots had a slight red tinge which the top has. Also, like many other folks have pointed out, I remember the cockpit canopy windows being opaque in the long shots. The canopy in the bottom looks transparent.

  69. 69 Jay Bee
    February 2, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I’m also voting Top:screen grab, bottom:CGI, for some of the resons stated above but mostly because there’s certain details in the various greeblies that match my memory (including of blueprints and plastic models) that seem slightly tweaked in the bottom. Also, the engine cowling is sharp below but looks like it’s blurred out above (though since Mojo is a pro at this, it might be just the sort of “false artefact” detail he’d know to include to throw us off the mark. Likewise with the star throught the canopy.)

    Not a 100 percent sure, but if we could be then it wouldn’t rate being here, wouldn’t it?

  70. 70 doubleofive
    February 2, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I’m going with the bottom one being CGI due to the higher detail due to it all being processed in a computer as opposed to being filmed (?), then converted to video, then converted to digital for DVD. The engine lighting not being as washed out also makes me think it is CGI.

    My wife and I just started watching BSG this weekend. We only watched the miniseries and the first regular episode, but we are hooked. Great CGI work, great drama, great acting, great sets, great twists. I’m glad I managed to stay relatively spoiler-free so I could start from scratch at such a late date. Now I can appreciate the BSG posts as I should. At least until you start deconstructing the last few episodes. Wouldn’t be able to read those posts yet!

    I really like that all of the “old” technology are faithful recreations of the original series models. I wasn’t into the original series (far too young), but it was a great idea to have that visual tie in.

  71. 71 JeffrySG
    February 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Also for me, the top image seems to be coming from a lower resolution source image. Which makes one think this was a grab from a video/DVD source. I think it would have been a harder choice if the lower image was lowered to the same pixel/aliasing quality as the top one.

    Of course if this was done to throw us… well… good job then… ;)

  72. 72 Sofos
    February 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I believe the top one is CGI and the bottom one is the model. Some of my reasons are the red paint stripe is more defined on the model and the CGI has more wear on it. Also the flare from the engines is more prominent in the CGI, and the models wouldn’t have as much from the bulbs.

  73. 73 Launch
    February 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I say the bottom is the CG one…

    To make them two even closer, I think there needs to be an Ambient Occlusion boost on the CG one (notice the darker, deeper shadows of the real one), and the stars in the CG one need to be dumbed down to pin pricks on black poster board (right now, they look like rendered point-polygons).

    Also, them model geo itself isn’t a dead on match. The real one has a shadow along the nose (meaning that the whole nose is possibly a bit wider along it’s top than it’s bottom), the CG one has pretty flat lighting along the length of the nose (meaning looking at it from straight on, the CG has nose a more square shape, rather than trapeziodal shape). The upper engine exhaust has a rectangle indent on it that is lost in the rendered version, which may be fixed with stronger AO.

    The render camera needs some adjustment too, to really get an exact angle on the render. The real one has a wingtip showing on the far side, the CG one doesn’t… which leads me to believe the lens mm is off a bit. I don’t know what the show used, possibly 35mm lens? Is that what the CG one was rendered with?

    The real one has a slightly ‘bluer’ color to it overall…

    It’s definitely a close attempt though. Good work. I kinda hope you make a fool outta me… lol

  74. 74 _pole
    February 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I too would say it’s pretty obvious that the first is a model and the second is cgi.

    UNLESS they’re both. Now that would be a stroke of genius. By the way am I the only one who likes the model better? If you really did that digitally, you should do it this way for future cgi jobs!!

  75. 75 Jay Bee
    February 3, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Just a note to the “missing wing” observers, the angle at which the ships are viewed are similar, but not identical. The bottom one is from a perspective a little farther to port (the ship’s left) than the top one, enough so that the wing becomes hidden behind the thrusters.

  76. February 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    i say the first one is real.

  77. 77 BT
    February 3, 2009 at 11:32 am

    The model is on top. Easy to tell. But the CGI looks good.

  78. February 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, hat’s off to your readers, there are some very sophisticated reasons you guys at giving for why the bottom image is CG and the top is a real model. I’m particularly impressed with Brian near the top with his comment about the star you can see through the cockpit and the traveling matte.

    I’m going to go with the crowd as well and guess that the bottom one is CG. For me it just seems like the motion blur is a little off, I’m not entirely sure what is tipping me off to it but it feels wrong. On the other hand, the pristine detail of the top really looks like it a still photo, not a moving frame, the lack of motion blur tells me it’s physical.

    The other reason is the noise/grain, on the top it looks monochromatic, uniform in color while nicely random in intensity. On the bottom one the color shifts are too uniform, it looks like you used Photoshop noise, didn’t click monochrome and then just tweaked it. However, the thing that throws me is the blurring of the noise towards the front of the ship, takes on a different characteristic based on the distance to the camera and I’m not sure I’d think to change that up in CG. This could all be a trick of the JPEG compression though.

    Fantastic work on the CGI one regardless of which is which, they both look great!

  79. 79 red hat linux
    February 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    The bottom is CGI because the top one actually has a pilot in the cockpit

  80. March 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Just flashed this at the wife, and she said “The lower one – it’s more detailed around the engines”

    I love my wife.

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January 2009

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