Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attack Of The Motion Captured Movies

It started with Final Fantasy, that awful movie starring stone faced characters that creeped out most everyone who made the mistake of entering the theatre. We absorbed another salvo with Polar Express, now we have Monster House and Happy Feet to look forward to. ...continued...

Plain and simple. Motion capture looks absolutely ugly in a fully animated film. Don't get me wrong, the technology has its uses for things like stunt men, crowds of people, or the times that you need absolute realism. Games! Another great use for it. However, when you start using motion capture in an animated movie, especially on cartoon'ish characters, it looks like crap.

Both Final Fantasy and Polar Express had the most zombie like performances I think I have ever seen. Monster House looks slightly better but has the same problems and just looks wrong. The producers for Happy Feet should of just hired a bunch of actors to put on giant rubber costumes, because that is exactly what the CG characters look like.

Audiences know! Maybe they cannot put their finger on it, but something looks off to them. The movement in Polar Express and Final Fantasy got reemed by non-industry reviewers. So they have to be in tune to it.

No animator in their right mind wants to work on a motion capture project. If they do, I'd argue that they probably have no animation skills of their own and shouldn't be labelled as animators to begin with. The only people that want this awful technology used in movies like these are directors that wish they were directing live action instead, producers that are misled that it will save money, and techno-geeks that think it is just cool.

Somebody needs to grab these producers by the neck and let them know that it isn't going to save you money. Polar Express, Final Fantasy, and Monster House have huge budgets. How was the money saved and exactly where did it go? An average CG film may have anywhere from 25-50 animators on it. Let's say you can get rid of all of them. You still have to hire someone to come back and clean the mocap data up. It needs to be done. In a lot of motion capture setups, someone still has to animate the faces. Better hire some of those animators back. If a production really wants to save money, there are other ways to go about it. Motion capture isn't a solution.


----This rant was brought to you by an unamed producer that tried to tell me how much motion capture was going to save them on a proposed CG film. After our conversation it was obvious that this man hates animation and wants to make his production as "live-action" as possible.----


Unfortunately, the money that CG features are making is bringing in a lot of undesirables. We have producers that don't even like animation and we have business men that have never been closer to a movie than a theatre think they can make easy profits. "Motion capture? Wow that is cool. We dont need those overpaid animators anymore. We'll be rich!"

9 comments:

jason said...

AMEN brother.


AAAAAAA-men.

Ethan said...

This paragraph is probibly the most accurate and most complete description that I've ever read:


"No animator in their right mind wants to work on a motion capture project. If they do, I'd argue that they probably have no animation skills of their own and shouldn't be labelled as animators to begin with. The only people that want this awful technology used in movies like these are directors that wish they were directing live action instead, producers that are misled that it will save money, and techno-geeks that think it is just cool."

Nuggets Noodle said...

I agree with all said. I reserve a special loathing for the Polar Express. I even made a point of viewing a pirate version (which I hasten to ad I don't approve of)such was my disgust for what I'd seen of the trailer. Then seeing the movie, well what I saw of it in between leaping off my couch with rage and jumping about. It's lucky I didn't see it in a cinema, I might have been thrown out. It was appalling!! How did it make money?!
I'm reserving my opinion on Happy Feet because I want so much to believe in George Millers talent and taste...however judging by the trailer...I may be thrown out of a cinema some time soon.

James said...

I don't normally put comments on random blogs but i thought with this one, well what the hell.

A bad movie is a bad movie, and yes people definately can exploit a medium in the way some people have obviously exploited mocap without artistic sensitivity, but The truth is, these sort of rants at face value - really are tedious and irrational. There are great examples of motion capture being used in films, okay so maybe not in the stylised animated context (yet) but to close ones mind regarding the possibilities of a medium really is counter-progressive and just a little bit ignorant.

You guys just don't properly understand motion capture, and how it can be used in cool creative ways in conjunction with traditional animation, the way i see it neither medium is the be-all and end all of a 3D animated movie.

but meh, thats just me.

I understand your rant in a way though, not saying i liked those films mentioned above, like i said, a crap film is a crap film no matter what medium its told in (awesome final fantasy script anyone? [sarcasm]) and yes, there really are some wankers out there who seem to think making animated movies should be as quick and easy to make as possible, ignoring the artistic integrity, storytelling and craft required to make one well.

I say kudos to those with the balls to do it.

my 2c

Impish said...

What about Gollum? Some of that was Motion Capture. And I'd be curious to here your comments once you see King Kong....

Just a thought, seems like a pretty black and white rant, but what do I know, I think Happy Feet looks fun.

Impish said...

One more thing IMHO. To rag on new technology because it seems to be the new "cool" thing and insulting the artists who did it in traditional ways, would be to discount all CG animation in favor of traditional, or discount all computer effects in favor of physical. Yup, it's the new technology, which means a lot of people try it out who have no talent and it insults those who have been laboring in the traditional ways. But, sometimes the new technology produces awesome results. Again, CG animation as an example with Gollum, when IMHO most CG animation was not that interesting to look at.

Staloren said...

I would harp on rotoscoping just as much as I harp on motion capture. So, it really isnt the technology for me.

Gollum looked good as I'm sure King Kong will. The big difference in my eyes is that these are animated characters within a live action world. They are trying to marry the two together so that they are believable.

Big difference.

WillRyan said...

Plus, there's a lot more care and clean up and scrapping of the mo-cap in favor of hand-keyed performances in Weta's animation on Gollum and King Kong.

I believe I read a post on CGTalk from someone on the production of Monster House say that they've been directed to NOT try to infuse the characters with the principals of animation. If that's to be believed, they're really being directed as if it's a live-action shoot and all they're doing is removing the noise in the mo-cap data.

So I'd almost say that it barely qualifies as an animated movie at this point, right? Especially if the director and producer feel that way.

Mr.XYZ said...

"No animator in their right mind wants to work on a motion capture project. If they do, I'd argue that they probably have no animation skills of their own and shouldn't be labelled as animators to begin with."

I agree Maan....but its always, All about Money!!