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Best and Worst Effects in Doctor Who


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Old 23-07-2013, 16:41
ShootyDogThing
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Thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss! Doctor Who is often perceived (sometimes not unfairly) as having some rubbish effects, but there are also some really great CG/practical effect moments.

I think Gridlock has some of the best environmental CG effects we've seen, with the shots of New Earth towards the end; they really wouldn't be out of place in a major Blockbuster. However, in the same episode, the motorway scenes look pretty unconvincing. I also though the Library exterior shots looked great and detailed, and gave the story a good sense of scale.

The Series 1 effects do look at bit dated it terms of CGI, especially the massive difference between the Slitheen costumes (which I rather liked) and the CGI; in one shot they're lumbering beasts, and in the next they're agile predators. But I thought the effects in Parting of the Ways made up for that, with some really epic shots of Daleks in space. The same applies to the Series 4 finale, and the Pandorica speech with loads of identifiable ships.

But then there's also the Lazarus monster, which although I thought was a pretty cool design in itself, was very dodgy, especially the face.

In terms of practical effects, I especially liked the design of the Gunslinger (he would make for a really cool 12" figure), and many of the recent monsters: the Silence, Ice Warrior, Ood - the costumes have been of a consistently high quality.

That doesn't always apply to the Classic Series however, but I'll leave you guys to add those There are plenty more effects to write about and I've mainly just looked at CGI, but these are just off the top of my head! I think it does especially well with space and exterior scenes - Doctor Who has really managed a lot with a relatively small budget for the sci-fi genre. I think a thread about set designs would be equally as interesting.
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Old 23-07-2013, 16:44
CoalHillJanitor
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Best - The opening sequence from Trial of a Time Lord

Worst - Tinfoil Vardans in The Invasion of Time

(This is assuming rubber monster costumes do not count as 'effects'.)
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Old 23-07-2013, 17:08
DiscoP
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I agree about the Best. I think the opening shot of the TARDIS being beamed down to the space station at the beginning of the Trial of a Time Lord is outstanding. It still holds up well against modern effects and will probably date less quickly than some of the CGI used in NuWho, because it was mostly model based.

Worst? I can't decide, there are too many to choose from and it's easy to pick holes in something like The Web Planet when you watch it today, but I guess it looked better in it's day... Maybe...?
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Old 23-07-2013, 18:02
CELT1987
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The monster in Creature from the Pit.
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Old 23-07-2013, 18:58
Lii
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For the classic era

Worst FX - Dinosaur Invasion.
Runner up - Loch ness monster, Zygons.
Best - Tom Baker's title sequence.
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Old 23-07-2013, 19:07
CoalHillJanitor
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For the classic era

Worst FX - Dinosaur Invasion.
Runner up - Loch ness monster, Zygons.
Best - Tom Baker's title sequence.
Oh good heavens, you are quite right about those dinosaurs and I revise my opinion accordingly.
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Old 23-07-2013, 19:22
TheSilentFez
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The 1980s title sequence looks good even by today's standards. It's just slightly dated because of all the 80s neon lighting, but the effects themselves still look very good. How did they actually make it? I assume it isn't CGI.

Another thing I've noticed is that the Tom Baker TARDIS console looks rubbish compared to the 1963 one. Why is that? The 1963 looks sturdy and well made with lots of levers and buttons whereas the late 1970s one looks like it's about to fall apart, it has stickers instead of buttons and a couple of silly red knobs and the time rotor doesn't seem to be able to rise and fall without wobbling from side to side.

As for best monster design, The Zygons were pretty good for their time and the Daleks still remain largely unchanged (just less wobbly).

Being Classic Doctor Who, there are plenty of contenders for worst SFX and worst monster design, but I'll nominate:
SFX- The entirety of Underworld. It looks like it was filmed by a 5 year old with a camera and a budget smaller than his monthly pocket-money allowance.
(Runner-up- The pathetic spiders in Full Circle)

Monster Design- The cleaner robots in Paradise Towers are shockingly bad. If they don't really count as monsters then the award has to go to the Wirrn. The Wirrn themselves as enemies were actually really good, but they looked rubbish.
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Old 23-07-2013, 19:39
Face Of Jack
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I agree with Silent Fez regarding Tom Baker's console! It was far inferior to the previous ones. The others looked far more solid and impressive. (they probably weren't really - but they LOOKED better!)
That Wirrn creature was embarrasing too.
I hated the wobbly Tardis scenes in space (Pyramids of Mars springs to mind - when it's obviously on a piece of string! But hey ho - this was the 70's....we could accept it!
That CGI thing in "Lazarus" was chronic - the head was totally not Mark Gatiss!
But to be honest - the SP/FX on new who has been very good.
We have to forgive the Classic Series - it didn't have the technology we have today - and it did its best!
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Old 23-07-2013, 19:47
Lii
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Another thing I've noticed is that the Tom Baker TARDIS console looks rubbish compared to the 1963 one. Why is that?
If only Doctor Who fans were the sort of people who would document something like that in excruciating detail online.

Oh... here you go then

http://www.themindrobber.co.uk/tardi...y-details.html
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Old 23-07-2013, 20:11
PrimalIce
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The best (for me) was the sailing ships as revealed at the end of Enlightenment 1 I think they are breathtaking. I thought the CGI version was vastly inferior

Kane's meltdown is runner up.


Not sure about the worst. I guess the dinosaurs but I'm sure there has been worse.
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Old 23-07-2013, 20:13
WhoMad
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The Pyramids of Mars and Planet of Evil TARDIS set actually looks quite good but once it returns in Season 15 the whole prop looks cheap and badly made. The time rotor wobbles, the lights inside sometimes don't work (HOW DIFFICULT IS IT JUST TO CHANGE A BULB) and the set is often put up in the wrong positions. In the Armageddon Factor the roundels on the back wall are put in back to front! Between 1980-83 the lighting is extremely flat and bright which just shows up how naff the console looked.

The 80s title sequence was made using a light and pieces of black card with holes poked in them. The camera was then moved closer to the card to give the impression you were moving through the stars.
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Old 23-07-2013, 20:47
Sh'boobie
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Worst was at the end of 'The Eleventh Hour' - where no effort whatsoever was made to match the CGI Eyeball with any of the casts' actual eyelines.

It's so incredibly distracting & could have been so simply overcome if they'd simply moved the graphic about half an inch to the left / right / up / down in EVERY. SINGLE. SHOT.

Really poor post production.
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Old 23-07-2013, 21:18
TEDR
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I've always thought the Borad came out quite well. Shame about the story.
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Old 23-07-2013, 21:22
TEDR
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The 80s title sequence was made using a light and pieces of black card with holes poked in them. The camera was then moved closer to the card to give the impression you were moving through the stars.
... and then lots of those were composited to give an impression of motion rather than merely an effective zoom.

It's not actually all that different from the slit scan of Tom Baker's day assuming I've understood properly, that's just a slit in a piece of card a decent distance above a 2d image that the camera is moved around in front of. The trick is that each camera sweep is a single exposure, with the slit dictating which part of the image is presently being captured and the camera movement producing the appearance of a perspective projection of the underlying image.
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Old 23-07-2013, 21:36
Mulett
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Seriously? We're this far into this thread and no one has mentioned the Myrka?
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Old 23-07-2013, 22:33
Philip_Lamb
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Rose when Mickey is eaten by the wheeliebin locked really bad as did auton Mickey
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Old 23-07-2013, 22:39
DiscoP
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Seriously? We're this far into this thread and no one has mentioned the Myrka?
The Myrka is lovely.

Seriously the only thing that distinguishes the Myrka from the Swamp Monster in Caves of Androzani is bad lighting in my opinion.
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Old 23-07-2013, 23:00
Dave-H
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The wide shots of Kroll in The Power of Kroll are pretty dreadful!
Done as crude film opticals when they should have been proper video effects.
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Old 23-07-2013, 23:14
rua is god
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Best - The opening sequence from Trial of a Time Lord
Yet I would rate the opening effects of Time and the Rani amongst the worst!
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Old 23-07-2013, 23:55
TheSilentFez
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Seriously? We're this far into this thread and no one has mentioned the Myrka?
I actually don't mind the Myrka. It actually doesn't look too bad. I can think of a lot worse.

It saddens me when the Myrka is used as "evidence" to show how bad Doctor Who had become in the 80s when they are clearly picking something from a serial which had a lot of problems (I seem to be the only one who actually enjoyed Warriors of the Deep) ignoring brilliant stories of the time such as Caves of Androzani or Mawdryn Undead (Mawdryn himself looked quite good)

Then people casually ignore hideous bits of rubbish from the legendary Tom Baker years such as the pathetic Wirrn or the entirety of Underworld.......

....Actually I just remembered something which should probably classify as one of the worst ever monster designs and special effects in the Doctor Who: the giant rat in The Talons of Weng Chiang. That was so unbelievably bad that I laughed myself to tears when I first saw it.
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Old 24-07-2013, 00:36
Lii
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Seriously? We're this far into this thread and no one has mentioned the Myrka?
I think we've just been focusing on FX rather than creatures and makeup. Once you start on the creatures, well where to begin... how about a Monoid?

Or the bubble wrap make-up from Arc in Space?
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Old 24-07-2013, 00:49
Lii
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....Actually I just remembered something which should probably classify as one of the worst ever monster designs and special effects in the Doctor Who: the giant rat in The Talons of Weng Chiang. That was so unbelievably bad that I laughed myself to tears when I first saw it.
Oh dear, now I'm going to start remembering all the stinkers from Tom's era. How about the wobbly fragile robot from the Sontaran Experiment?
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Old 24-07-2013, 01:01
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I thought The Valiant was a very spectacular creation in Series 3.

A shame it met such a premature end in series 4.

Maybe there's a HMS Valiant-A out there somewhere?
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Old 24-07-2013, 02:57
Abomination
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THE BEST EFFECTS OF DOCTOR WHO

I compiled this list with the consideration that many of the effects are now nearly a decade old. Many of these still stand up today, though some are obviously not comparable to more recent examples...

Series 1

- The design of Satellite 5 was brilliant. You're able to see all of the little aerials and antenna sticking out off the building clearly, and it was a very iconic design. One of the most convincing original structures, I'm glad it got to appear in three episodes of the first series.

- The single shot of the steampunk spaceship tethered to Big Ben during the London Blitz in The Empty Child is one of the singularly most awesome shots ever in Doctor Who. Before Moffat went on the overkill with his timey-wimey elements, these subtle little conflicts between past and future were well designed and had a lot of heart in them. When CGI was more expensive and you couldn't afford as much of it, you made every shot of it count - this is a shot to look out for.

- The Dalek Emperor design in The Parting of the Ways, as well as the whole interior of his ship and the attack he waged on Satellite 5 still stands up as one of the most well realised bits of CG television I've ever seen.


Series 2

- The SS Madame de Pompadour ship was designed to look like a key rotating inside a lock. It was a brilliant design, and perhaps a clever metaphor for the ship itself being the reason the robots stalked Reinette... the answers were unlocked and revealed to be the ship itself.

- The Beast in the pit is clearly CGI these days, and doesn't quite stand up to your Hollywood blockbuster, but it isn't distracting in its quality and has real presence. It's rare that a humanoid figure can look so convincing, but even with age it still feels like an impressive revelation when it is shown near the end of The Satan Pit.

- The shot of The Doctor and Rose looking out over an alien landscape with flying creatures in Army of Ghosts. You rarely get to see the wilderness of alien planets in Doctor Who, and this was a rare if brief treat that looked beautiful.


Series 3

- The shots of New New York in Gridlock are still some of the best that has been offered by Doctor Who. The spires and skyscrapers gleaming in the sun, and later in the sunset are mightily impressive and comparable to similar shots in the Star Wars prequels.

- The Valiant craft was a really well designed concept, and despite its demise in Series 4 had a real presence in its three stories.


Series 4

- The Adipose spacecraft was an impressive design in Partners in Crime.

- The landscape of the Ood-Sphere seen in Planet of the Ood is beautiful, especially the shot with the ringed planet in the background.

- The exterior design of the library in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead made for a very convincing world.

- The shots of the Daleks bringing down the Valiant in The Stolen Earth were a new level of action-packed CG shot for Doctor Who, and very impressive.


Series 5

- The crash of the Byzantium in The Time of Angels was very well realised.

- The starry night sequence in Vincent and the Doctor utilised CG in a way that the show hadn't done before... it was a brief but beautiful way to convey the thoughts of Van Gogh.

- The shot of the spaceships gathering over Stonehenge in The Pandorica Opens was very impressive, and one spoiled by a 'Next Time' trailer.


Series 6

- Kazran's planet in A Christmas Carol is one of the best designed locations in Doctor Who. Like something out of a Terry Pratchett book, the steampunk city was never fully explored but always impressed with what it did have to show.

- The gardens that Amy visits in The Girl Who Waited look like something out of an Alice in Wonderland story. Bizarre but fantastic.

- The opening shot in The Wedding of River Song didn't make any sense really, but it suggested that we were in for an episode that was about to give a lot. The end product was a let down for me, but the opening shot summed up the 'style over substance' vibe I got about it, as did the Area 52 design later on.


Series 7

- The shot of all the Daleks in the parliament of Asylum of the Daleks was very impressive... the first time since Series 1 that the scale of a Dalek threat felt, well, threatening.

- Cheating a little, but the interaction with The First Doctor and Clara in The Name of the Doctor was very innovative.


Will likely do the 'worst' tomorrow just to pass some time
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Old 24-07-2013, 07:12
Sambda
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Best - The opening sequence from Trial of a Time Lord

Worst - Tinfoil Vardans in The Invasion of Time

(This is assuming rubber monster costumes do not count as 'effects'.)
The flying saucers in both "The Dalek Invasion Of Earth" and "The Moonbase" are about the worst. The Dinky toy Bessie in "The Green Death" is fairly hideous. The Brig's tank in "Robot".
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