Monday, July 31, 2006

You Are A Menace To Animation Society!

I stopped working as an animator many years ago. Therefore, the following rant has absolutely nothing to do with fear of losing my job. It comes from what I see as a menace to animated films.

If you are an “animator” working on a motion capture film and you are tweaking graphs, cleaning up data, etc, etc. Shame on you. Quit your job and get a real animation job because you are doing nothing but hurting or even blowing your chances of getting real employment as an animator where hand-keyed work is valued.

Your colleagues look at you as second-rate data manipulators and will never give you props if you go seek a job at a studio that relies on hand animation. You are only contributing to the nonsense that drives these producers to use motion capture in the first place.

You are a menace to animation society.

Do these words piss you off? Good! I hope so. I hope they piss you off so much that you prove to me and everyone else that you are an animator worth a piss and will get on a project where you animate everything, not just relegated to cleaning up a computer's mess and leave motion capture behind -forever-.

Stand up! Prove that you are a real animator and turn down these jobs. Are you so desperate for work? Do you really think that motion capture is animation? Do you really think that you are respected in our industry?

Maybe you are in such a financial position where you have to take on these jobs. Maybe you even like the whole motion capture idea or look. That’s fine. Just don’t call yourself an animator or expect props from those the real animators that laugh behind your back.


JL said...

You are awesome. I admire you so much for your words because I too look at motion capture and think "that's the equivilant of tracing a photo and saying you've drawn it!".

I went a Siggraph convention and stopped at the job fair. I approached a table and asked them "do you need animators or do you use motion capture" meaning "do you want someone who's a creator or just a lackey who cleans up the fodder of someones bad acting?"

The man at the booth laughed at me like I was a fool saying "you still NEED animators when you use motion capture."

I wanted to spit in his face for his tone of voice first of all and then laugh at him for calling mo-cap people animators...

Thankyou THANKYOU for letting me know that I'm not the only one.

Beaver said...

Where does this logic start and stop....Animators working in mocap should quit to animate legitimately in shouldn't 3d animators quit those jobs to animate 2d....
and photographers should bag it up and paint....this logic can go back and reduce anything to contributing to the downfall of something before it .....You can trace this logic all the way back and say that anyone that works on anything but cave paintings is contributing to the downfall of animation...

Did you know that Stop motion animation KILLED traditional puppet shows...thousands of foam Mallet and Jester puppet makers lost their jobs...

You are saying that the people involved in the process of animating are more important than the end result. That, because you "Joe Animator" haven't blessed every frame of movement with your unique and superior touch that it's inferior and obviously contributing to the downfall of animation. You are saying that the end result, the story, the entire reason for needing animation/mocap takes a back seat to the process....who cares if it's good as long as someone stayed up for 36 hours touching every frame during 3 seconds of squash and stretch.

Why are you so threatened? These opinions are so black/white and sooo harsh..... If you replace mocap with say,a race of people and animation with, I dunno, the takes on a different vibe....

All I am saying is you should Quit your job and cave paint.

Arturo Aguilar said...

Oh get off your high horse will ya?

todderasesareddot said...
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todderasesareddot said...
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todderasesareddot said...

I toned this down from my original message...vj

I think most of us in this industry know that many animators tend to have a lot of pride. I think that's fine and well deserved in most cases, but there is such a thing as a snob.

What exactly did you mean to accomplish with this post? Do you really think that mocap people are stupid? Do you think they need *you* to tell them that they are not expressing themselves fully with each personally crafted character movement? You are implying that these people are in some way delusional and that you know better. Mocap animators know what their job is and they do it well and with pride. You seem to be saying that they are putting mocap work on their showreel and claiming it as totally their own. You know...sometimes the overall project is more important than each animator feeling fully expressed. Sometimes people let their egos go at the door and want to contribute to the project as a whole.

The fact of the matter is that the world doesn't owe you anything. Yes, even if you studied for years, paid for a fancy degree, or have a lot of experience doing what you love. Nobody owes you a job at Pixar with your own little office where you can display all of your quirky little character figurines. Refusing an opportunity to work at a big studio on incredibly creative films such as "Monster House", "Pirates II", and the like is just asinine. Assuming the job is unskilled is even more offensive.

As of 2006, I don't think any of us with a decent brain will argue that Mocap has a place in our industry and that it is here to stay. As long as people pay to go see mocap movies, there will be mocap movies . Personally, I think "Monster House" would have been a little better if it had been wholly hand-animated, but I still really enjoyed it as it was.

Telling people to feel bad about what they do and to not accept jobs on mocap movies is total snobbery.

Staloren said...

I stand by my opinions. You don't have to like them. Complain as much as you want, because it makes me feel even better about my post.

I look at mocap as a crutch. It has its place when trying to mimic reality. But when it is used in cartoon animation, it is being used where it shouldnt be used.

As far as MOCAP in Pirates, it doesnt bother me because they are trying to make it look real and beleivable. THEY ARE NOT MAKING A CARTOON.

Directors use motioncapture because I believe they secretly want to be directing live action and they see animation as second class entertainment. Or they simply cannot properly direct animators that are creating everything from scratch. Or lastly, they are so misinformed by the bozo producers that the process is faster and less expensive.

A recent interview of the director of Monster House pretty much backs up my speculation. I'll have to dig it up and you can judge by yourself from the quotes.

Bitch and moan as much as you want. Those of you working in motion capture as "animators" need to get a reality grip. You are tweakers. Not animators.

Staloren said...

Beaver, your "logic" has no logic. 3D animators (like 2d animators) are creating motion, creating life from scratch. Neither one of them are editing data captured by cameras.

If you want to draw parallels, rotoscoping in 2d is more akin to motion capture in 3D.

I'm far from being threatened. I'm just disgusted. I no longer work as an animator nor does this affect my livelihood in any shape or form.

This is a HUUUGE generality. But those working on motion capture films as "animators" would most likely rather be working on a hand keyed film. I've never met an animator that is any good tell me that they would rather be tweaking data than creating from scratch.

Find me a few of those and maybe I'll change my opinion. GOOD LUCK!

Beaver said...

By your logic anything trying to resemble reality should be left to reality. So we should never use lighting that resembles real life? Or depth of field? Any modeler out there that has recreated anything capable of existing in real life should just take a picture?

You are creating your own personal idea of 'animation' and excluding mocap from it, which is fine but to say that people validly animating on top of are not animators is for lack of a better word retarded.

My parallel is that your thinking, is the same thinking as the 3d vs. 2d debate . It's the same logic that says if you aren't physically drawing or moving the character/objects by hand you aren't animating...if every frame isn't DRAWN you aren't animating "for real"'re letting interpolation fill in some stuff.....the cloth is all dynamics...the lighting is physics as well. I think plenty of 2d animators who have painstakingly and beautifully hand drawn and animated flowing garments and particles feel that its cheating to let a plug in control that...just like it's cheating to rotoscope. My point is that people a generation back have/do have the same opinion about the current state of "traditional" cg animation that you do about mocap and animation. We've been here.

I don't think anyone is claiming that mocap = animation. Animators working on mocap data are still animators. Where do you draw the line. If you shoot DV footage of yourself performing a motion and use it for timing and reference are you an animator? Your classifications are ridiculous and don't come from a lack of understanding, you have a stick up your ass about mocap. Maybe your father was killed by reflective balls... It's fine, we aren't "complaining" this is your blog, this is you throwing it out there, and this is us responding. Anyone who can't appreciate another persons work and the skill needed to perform it regardless of personal opinion is probably not of legal drinking age and/or drunk.

Animation is animation even if it is over mocap or even another animators animation.

trd22 said...
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trd22 said...

get over yourself beaver. not everyone reading this agrees with you. so dont act as if your opinion is anymore right than anyone elses... dont for one instance think you represent the majority around here... assh*le.

you are really grasping when you make try to make associations. DV footage? Come on.. My guess is that you are an untalented hack that works with mocap ---- getting overly defensive about your inability to animate something on your own....

Beaver said...

Thats your deal trdouche22. I am not defending mocap, I am not grasping, I am not assuming anything,all I am saying is that an animator is an animator is an animator. I don't have any other issues. I don't hope you get hit by a truck, I don't think everyone agrees with me, I don't like tomato, I don't have any issues with my inabilities.

I'm stating my opinion, which based on the widely accepted theory that "I am right and you are wrong", is right....

Staloren said...

If I'm pissing people off and getting them to complain, then I'm succeeding (as far as I'm concerned).

I stand my opinion. It isn't likely to change from what I've heard. To each their own.

shrewd said...

You know, you never hear of a seamstress complain about all the people using sewing machines these days... You never hear them say that sewing with a machine is not sewing... What is the difference? A tool is a tool. Get over it. Use it to your advantage and get on with your life.

Adam Strick said...

The 2d and 3d comparison is pretty funny stuff. If someone thinks that its faster and cheaper to do 3d animation than 2d animation, than that person most likely hasn't ever done 3d animation or done it correctly. Yes there is interpolation in the computer but every skilled 3d animator is their own inbetweener telling the computer what they want the character to do, not the computer telling the animator what the character is going to do. Now comparing rotoscoping to motion capture is a better analogy. For 2d, you've got rotoscoping, and for 3d you've got mo-cap.

As a character animator, it is your job to figure out how the character is suppose to move and sometimes figure out the business for that character in a shot or series of shots, just as an actor would do in live action, unless the director has something specifically in mind. When, and if, an animator uses video reference for certain actions it is mostly used to figure out how the body works: where is the force being applied, what action in the body happens first,etc. They are not just copying this footage directy to their characters and letting the interpolation take over. It is a matter of observational study and learning exactly how the body should move. Many mechanical issues are solved which will help solidify the movement happening during the acting that the animator has chosen for their character.

When a piece of motion capture is imported into the computer the mechanics and acting are there. What is left is essentially the cleanup process. Atleast this is what I assume, since I haven't ever touched any mocap data. I have heard there is still quite a bit of work to be done and can be tedious.

It's also fairly amazing how little motion capture is used on some films that advertise it so much. For instance, I heard from one of the guys that worked on King Kong that only about 15% of that movie was motion capture and that anyone with the job title "animator" didn't touch the stuff. Everything they did was key-framed. The people that did work with the mocap data held job titles of "motion editors" or something of the sort.

I'm not saying that people working with motion capture can't animate by any means, but I am stating that it is a different process from my understanding.

Ron said...

What happens to these purist opinions when animators get full body user interfaces? ...a mocap suit of their own with which to set poses instead of mouse and keyboard?

At that point it's clear there's a huge grayzone between "only an animator knows how to move a character" and "only an actor knows how". ...and it will get more gray, not less.

There's less and less value shaking our aging fists in the air while gravelling on about "When I was young we animated with PENCILS dam-nang-it!"

In other words, you'll do more by participating than attempting to deny the process' validity.

rich said...

"By your logic anything trying to resemble reality should be left to reality. So we should never use lighting that resembles real life? Or depth of field? Any modeler out there that has recreated anything capable of existing in real life should just take a picture?"

Well... yeah. Forgive me, but IMO the purpose of any kind of art is to "plus" reality. Nobody would enjoy a book that rendered a 100% accurate portrayal of a person's life if their life wasn't interesting. Being able to draw a figure that is 100% indistinguishable from reality is great technical skill. But it's not art. Ditto for modeling. If your pose is crap, if your character is not emoting, what's the point?

rich said...

I also think that motion capture animators do themselves a disservice by leaving what they get untouched, and just cleaning up funky splines. Don't let yourself be a monkey!

Gollum worked precisely because the animators took a lot of time improving on what they got from Andy. I think it's not so much shunning motion capture as saying "OK. Here's my template. Now to make it better..." and really trying to improve on what they're given.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an animator, I'm an animation fan. Like most other actual animation fans out there, I think motion capture looks stupid. It looks completely fake. They try to make it look too real (which is stupid) and it just doesn't work. The characters look and move like plastic toys. The acting in a badly animated show such as Tennessee Tuxedo or something looks ten times better and even more realistic. In short, mo-cap sucks. I wouldn't even refer to it as animation.