Why does Star Wars Episode 1 look different from the other 9 films?

Oct 28, 2017
5,090
#1
The 4 Disney films look* the same from a film stand point. Not the art or design but the way the movies look. Same for the OT they all share the same look. The Phantom Menace however doesn't look like any of the other films including the other 2 prequel films. I also think I might like the look it the best out of the 10 films. There's something about the look that I really enjoy but I don't know if it's my headcannon or an actual thing.




*I mean the picture quality I guess but I'm not sure that makes sense.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,180
#8
Phantom Menace actually used a good amount of models and practical effects, plus it was actually shot on film while Episodes 2 and 3 were filmed digitally. George Lucas didn't go nuts with bluescreen and CGI until the other two prequel movies. Episode 1 has aged a lot better than 2 and 3 in the visuals department.

This is one part of my reasoning for why Phantom Menace is low key the actual best prequel trilogy movie.
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,395
#10
Also, it was relatively early in terms of CG, especially for the volume of CG that was used and those slightly dated effects give it a certain look. The designs of the craft and how those show up on screen are not influenced by the abiltiy to make phsyical models of them, so there are lots of more intricate curved forms compared to the more angular designs of the older movies.
 
Oct 25, 2017
799
#18
If you're a big proponent of the models used in space scenes in the OT, you could argue that Phantom Menace's space battles look the best in the series. Rather like Jurassic Park's special effects, it's a moment in history that will never happen again: CGI still too immature to be used exclusively for structures and explosions; the refinement of model compositing; and the use of improved film stock before digital colour correction.

The result is better compositing than in the OT, tangible objects reacting to light correctly; real explosions; and the warm look of film. If models are your thing, these scenes certainly look better than the entirely CGI space battles in the other prequels and even the advanced CGI in the sequel trilogy and Rogue One.

 
Oct 27, 2017
528
#19
It's not just in your head. TPM does have a distinct look to it due to the confluence of events that happened in the late 90's, as others have pointed out. Actual models, use of film, and CGI that was capable, but couldn't be the whole movie.
 
OP
OP
Soapbox Killer Returns
Oct 28, 2017
5,090
#21
If you're a big proponent of the models used in space scenes in the OT, you could argue that Phantom Menace's space battles look the best in the series. Rather like Jurassic Park's special effects, it's a moment in history that will never happen again: CGI still too immature to be used exclusively for structures and explosions; the refinement of model compositing; and the use of improved film stock before digital colour correction.

The result is better compositing than in the OT, tangible objects reacting to light correctly; real explosions; and the warm look of film. If models are your thing, these scenes certainly look better than the entirely CGI space battles in the other prequels and even the advanced CGI in the sequel trilogy and Rogue One.



Thank You. This makes sense to me.
 
Oct 25, 2017
8,255
#22
Phantom Menace actually used a good amount of models and practical effects, plus it was actually shot on film while Episodes 2 and 3 were filmed digitally. George Lucas didn't go nuts with bluescreen and CGI until the other two prequel movies. Episode 1 has aged a lot better than 2 and 3 in the visuals department.

This is one part of my reasoning for why Phantom Menace is low key the actual best prequel trilogy movie.
What up.

It's not a good movie by any means, but I watched it at an in-theatre marathon of the entire series and I was surprised by how much fun I had with it. Tonally it feels like a natural evolution of where the series was already heading after Return of the Jedi - it's easy to imagine a version of Phantom Menace being made in 1986 that would be more or less the same movie. It's the sentiment behind the Ewoks but stretched out to two hours.

I think Lucas took the "it's too kiddy" criticism to heart and decided to make 2 and 3 significantly darker, but without fixing the underlying issues with 1 and introducing several more in the process. I always just think of that RLM bit about defenders of Revenge of the Sith bringing up "It's the darkest of the three" as a point for the movie, as if dark inherently = good.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,028
#23
There were more practical effects in the film. The film itself was shot on 35mm, giving it a more timeless look.

The digital cameras limited the way shots were composed... I guess it was just too new for them to go nuts, IDK.

And I thought the digital cameras were 1080i, not 1080p?
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,745
#25
If you're a big proponent of the models used in space scenes in the OT, you could argue that Phantom Menace's space battles look the best in the series. Rather like Jurassic Park's special effects, it's a moment in history that will never happen again: CGI still too immature to be used exclusively for structures and explosions; the refinement of model compositing; and the use of improved film stock before digital colour correction.

The result is better compositing than in the OT, tangible objects reacting to light correctly; real explosions; and the warm look of film. If models are your thing, these scenes certainly look better than the entirely CGI space battles in the other prequels and even the advanced CGI in the sequel trilogy and Rogue One.

Man how could he sound so fucking bored lmao
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,180
#26
What up.

It's not a good movie by any means, but I watched it at an in-theatre marathon of the entire series and I was surprised by how much fun I had with it. Tonally it feels like a natural evolution of where the series was already heading after Return of the Jedi - it's easy to imagine a version of Phantom Menace being made in 1986 that would be more or less the same movie. It's the sentiment behind the Ewoks but stretched out to two hours.

I think Lucas took the "it's too kiddy" criticism to heart and decided to make 2 and 3 significantly darker, but without fixing the underlying issues with 1 and introducing several more in the process. I always just think of that RLM bit about defenders of Revenge of the Sith bringing up "It's the darkest of the three" as a point for the movie, as if dark inherently = good.
Yup.

Phantom Menace is still not a good movie but there's definitely an argument for it being the best prequel.
  1. Visually and tonally it still fits with the Original Trilogy films
  2. It has the best lightsaber dual in the prequel trilogy
  3. Music is top notch
  4. It's a fairly stand alone movie, story wise, which is more or less an addition by subtraction scenario since it's not attached to the awful story lines in AotC and RotS.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,487
#27
For the most part (with a few blemishes) I really enjoy the look of Episode 1. Visually it's a lot more pleasing than the cartoony CGI heavy direction Lucas went in his two movies that followed. I wish the visual style of Episode 1 had been carried on.
 
Oct 27, 2017
7,061
#28
If you're a big proponent of the models used in space scenes in the OT, you could argue that Phantom Menace's space battles look the best in the series. Rather like Jurassic Park's special effects, it's a moment in history that will never happen again: CGI still too immature to be used exclusively for structures and explosions; the refinement of model compositing; and the use of improved film stock before digital colour correction.

The result is better compositing than in the OT, tangible objects reacting to light correctly; real explosions; and the warm look of film. If models are your thing, these scenes certainly look better than the entirely CGI space battles in the other prequels and even the advanced CGI in the sequel trilogy and Rogue One.

What a shame that it's also the worst space battle in the whole series!
 
Oct 28, 2017
5,279
New Jersey
#29
So will TRON: Legacy and really anything finished with a 2K DI which is practically everything now. We still live in a 1080p world.
Nah, 2K DI res is 2048×1080. AotC was shot on Sony’s F900 which had a master image of less than 1920x1080. When recorded with letterbox it was compressed down further to 1440x1080
 
Oct 27, 2017
858
#30
Nah, 2K DI res is 2048×1080. AotC was shot on Sony’s F900 which had a master image of less than 1920x1080. When recorded with letterbox it was compressed down further to 1440x1080
Are you squabbling over 128 lines (1920x1080 vs 2048x1080)? They are identical to the eye.

And I agree on AOTC, it looks like ass. I was just adding that we're still stuck in that (essential) 1080p resolution 17 years later, in most cases.
 
Oct 25, 2017
799
#34
What up.

It's not a good movie by any means, but I watched it at an in-theatre marathon of the entire series and I was surprised by how much fun I had with it. Tonally it feels like a natural evolution of where the series was already heading after Return of the Jedi - it's easy to imagine a version of Phantom Menace being made in 1986 that would be more or less the same movie. It's the sentiment behind the Ewoks but stretched out to two hours.

I think Lucas took the "it's too kiddy" criticism to heart and decided to make 2 and 3 significantly darker, but without fixing the underlying issues with 1 and introducing several more in the process. I always just think of that RLM bit about defenders of Revenge of the Sith bringing up "It's the darkest of the three" as a point for the movie, as if dark inherently = good.
To me, TPM feels exactly like the kind of film Lucas would've made 16 years after Return of the Jedi. He's forgotten what made the OT great, but the vestiges of Return of the Jedi are definitely there and amplified: the more child friendly gags, the Ewoks being the precursors to the Gungans and adding an extra climactic showdown so you're cutting between 4 simultaneous battles instead of 3. But in those 16 intervening years, he's become a middle aged family man, more political and interested in expanding the minutae of the Star Wars lore.

I think if Lucas had actually made Episode 1 or 7 in 1986, it would feel a lot like Captain EO, which he wrote and partly oversaw. A whole load more Henson puppets (maybe with a Jar Jar esque puppet sidekick), even more complex and impressive 80s practical effects and a creeping edginess to appeal to kids immersed in Transformers and He Man.

 
Oct 27, 2017
543
#35
there was a lot of location shooting for ep 1. I think ep 2 had just a couple location shoots, and none for ep 3.

I agree, though, I love the way TPM looks
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,764
#36
Episode 1 featured more practical effects and real set locations used. Also as mentioned it was shot on film. Ep2 and 3 featured much more green/blue screen usage, many scenes being completely shot on CG backgrounds and it's aged awfully.

TPM feels like it had much more work put into it and care, the following 2 movies felt rushed with too much reliance on digital. Ep2's entire last half hour is pretty much pure CG
 
Oct 28, 2017
5,279
New Jersey
#37
Nah, 2K DI res is 2048×1080. AotC was shot on Sony’s F900 which had a master image of less than 1920x1080. When recorded with letterbox it was compressed down further to 1440x1080
They aren’t identical when Aotc rendering res is 1440x1080. Watch Aotc and Rots side by side, the resolution difference is obvious
 
Oct 27, 2017
704
#38
There are some good answers in this thread. I've always felt Ep 1 was more boring and has more insufferable characters than the other 2 prequels. But I think there's a good argument to be made in favor of it from an aesthetic standpoint. Might actually revisit it soon.
 
Aug 15, 2018
508
??
#39
Phantom Menace actually used a good amount of models and practical effects, plus it was actually shot on film while Episodes 2 and 3 were filmed digitally. George Lucas didn't go nuts with bluescreen and CGI until the other two prequel movies. Episode 1 has aged a lot better than 2 and 3 in the visuals department.

This is one part of my reasoning for why Phantom Menace is low key the actual best prequel trilogy movie.
Not lowkey. It absolutely is the best prequel. No question about it
(still not good)
 

TAJ

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,876
#40
If I recall correctly Clone Wars was the first movie shot 100% digital or something like that. It's a pretty big jump compared to what was done in EP1.
The first digital features came out in the mid-'90s.
AotC wasn't even the first release shot with that specific camera. At least three movies shot on that model were released before it. And Spy Kids 2 would have beat it to theaters also if Robert Rodríguez hadn't taken a break to shoot Once Upon A Time In Mexico.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,318
#44
As much shit I give The Phantom Menace as well as it being my least favorite Star Wars movie overall, I'll contest it's 100% the best looking film of the franchise.

Partly may be due to nostalgia too. When I saw it in theaters it felt like looking at a window into the new millennium.
 
Oct 25, 2017
546
Australia
#50
They aren’t identical when Aotc rendering res is 1440x1080. Watch Aotc and Rots side by side, the resolution difference is obvious
Why would the horizontal pixel count be affected by letterboxing unless I'm missing something? Letterboxing chops out vertical pixel count. AOTC would have had a final resolution of something like 1920x800 as a result which isn't hugely different from many films today.

From what I'm reading, it seems AOTC was indeed shot at 1440x1080 with rectangular pixels that are then stretched out over the horizontal 1920 which would bring its own set of problems.

I imagine along with this slightly lowered resolution, the biggest issue that makes AOTC look so much worse than contemporary digital films that are otherwise being shot at a similar resolution is simply that the film is shot on a more primitive digital camera, where dynamic range isn't quite up to par, bit depth is limited and chroma subsampling is pretty shoddy all of which might be more important than perceivable resolution. And especially for a film so reliant on blue screen, colour information is vital to good keying.