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Through a series of dissolves, we see the early morning rescue of the Carpathia, in a lovely matte shot provided by Matte World Digital, with rescue boats in the foreground, and the Carpathia and icebergs populating the background. The smoke billowing from the Carpathia and iceberg elements give the scene realistic touches, but it would have been nice to see a little more camera movement in that shot, to lessen the appearance of the 2D elements. A quick couple of shots reveal DD's miniature Statue of Liberty,
composited by Digiscope, gleaming over Rose's shoulder as she's standing in the rain on the deck of Carpathia, shots that work quite well.
Matte World Digtial provided the daybreak shot of the Carpathia coming to the rescue of the Titanic survivors.
The film's final image is also the film's longest effects shot, with the camera zooming through the decks of the sunken ship, then magically revealing the ship in its most beautiful state, with Rose meeting Jack one more time on the grand staircase. The DD shot is a wonder--not necessary are the countless concerns over realism for this shot, since it is part of Rose's dream anyway (or her death, or the journey of the diamond, depending on your interpretation of the film). The transition between the wreck and the finished decks is subtle, starting with the lights beaming through the windows, and then the decks and walls changing color and texture. Since the wreck model had to be altered before the camera could whip through the deck, 2D trickery was used to keep the shot moving, as it transitions to a pristine model, and finally with the live-action footage. It is an incredible ride through space and time.
There are probably dozens of shots of the film's 600+ effects shots that will never be noticed--interior CG water, CG props, countless wire removals, rig, light, prop and character erasures, miniature interior sets, even body part erasures--all of which add to the rich visual tapestry created by director Cameron. The visual effects of TITANIC are like no other film's; not only are they some of the finest, most original shots ever made, but they work *with* the story instead of being straightforward eye candy.
The style of TITANIC's visual effects will inexorably and rightfully be credited to Cameron, who has crafted his film with effects to propel his characters and to drive the narrative. He is one of a select few Hollywood directors who can not only write for visual effects, but who has the faith in the industry to create never-before seen imagery previously limited to his imagination. With Robert Zemeckis and George Lucas, Cameron is a grand storyteller whose palette always includes a healthy batch of innovative effects, and for that, moviegoers (and the industry, itself) should be thankful.
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All text Copyright © 1998 Todd Vaziri, unless otherwise noted