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Dexter2999
03-09-2009, 12:16 AM
I know, two new threads in the same hour, I'm abusing the New Thread button.

I bought BEOWULF from Amazon for like $5. I watched it then the "making of". Out of curiosity I looked up the movie on boxofficemojo and I was more than a little ticked off.

Zemeckis spent a staggering $100 million on that pic. Let's put that in perspective. LORD OF THE RINGS budget was $93 million. This was an animated movie and it cost $7 million more? He could have made the whole thing live action and put in digital monsters for what he spent on this thing.

What struck me while watching the "making of" was the amount of money being spent on making a virtual set with every actor's face and every movement recorded. Every prop and set piece had real world equivelant to it's 3d counterpart in most every scene.

Seems like it would have been a heckuvalot cheaper to let the animators actually animate things. The name talent probably gets paid in a day what an animator makes in a week and the director is taking most of the animating out of their hands. Seems all the effort was put into data wrangling and capture.

So caught up in the technology, I think they went out of their way to let the actors do the performances well above and beyond where it was practical or economical for an animated movie. I respect the craft of actor but for an animated movie they seem to have largely reduced the animators to modeler/texture artists who apply the capture data to their work.

And on top of all this, it wasn't even that good. Part of what makes animation attractive as a medium is the realization of the fantastic where reality leaves off. It wasn't particularly stylized or any more fantastic than any number of live action films we have all seen.

Okay, end of rant...at least until I finally watch POLAR EXPRESS.

Anyone else here think that the movie suffered from trying to tie animation so closely to a live action mindset?

Titus
03-09-2009, 12:34 AM
I really don't care too much for the cost. They're pushing the envelope for realistic virtual actors, and in five or ten years we'll have them, just look at Jeremy Button.

geo_n
03-09-2009, 01:02 AM
I think the point of the movie was to produce a cg only movie and to push the tech further to be more realistic and believable. Atleast that's what the ads here were saying. Regarding mocap and virtual sets, here in japan all the projects we do are mocap. We do clean up work of the data and don't do animation anymore. That's why I suck at animation:D:help:. But seriously there are fewer and fewer good traditional animators now that companies are relying heavily on mocap. And it must be cheap since we use it and we're an average studio. I guess the time for complex rigs and time consuming animation is just too long and its more cost effective to mocap and do clean up. This is with human characters btw.

DiedonD
03-09-2009, 01:17 AM
Polar Express has sent me to sweet, sweet sleep of such a heart resting kind, that I would prefer to everyone, and has done so in more than one occasion!

Beowolf wasnt of the type to whatch with kids for instance!

MoCap and too realsitic models and environment are a taste that still need some getting use to by me!

Dexter2999
03-09-2009, 01:33 AM
I think the point of the movie was to produce a cg only movie and to push the tech further to be more realistic and believable. Atleast that's what the ads here were saying. Regarding mocap and virtual sets, here in japan all the projects we do are mocap. We do clean up work of the data and don't do animation anymore. That's why I suck at animation:D:help:. But seriously there are fewer and fewer good traditional animators now that companies are relying heavily on mocap. And it must be cheap since we use it and we're an average studio. I guess the time for complex rigs and time consuming animation is just too long and its more cost effective to mocap and do clean up. This is with human characters btw.

But that is precisely the point. This wasn't cost effective at all. It cost more than LORD OF THE RINGS. It could have been cost effective to record voice perfomances and track facial data from actors yes. Then hire other actors to do the physical mocap info for far far less than they pay Angelina Jolie or Anthony Hopkins for a day. Use the tech where it is most productive. But this doesn't seem to be the case. It seems more like ignorance of the process followed by indulgence of the ego. No one stood up to Zemeckis and said "we should do this another way and save $40 million."

I mean you wouldn't hire matte painters to paint a set wall so that it looks like it has all this molding and detail on it for $10,000 when you can pay a carpenter to build it for real for $1,000.

This whole thing reminds me of what a guy told me years ago, "The US spent $4 million dollars to design a pen that would eject ink properly in space...the Russians used a pencil."

DiedonD
03-09-2009, 01:53 AM
No one stood up to Zemeckis and said "we should do this another way and save $40 million."


By what youre saying it sounds like they were ripping him off! Heres a guy that generously gives out mililons, lets involve all our friends into the feast and let us all get richer!

SplineGod
03-09-2009, 01:56 AM
The animation and models for me were all over the place in beowolf.
Some looked pretty real and were animated well and others looked like they were straight out of Shrek.
I dont get the point either. Id rather see live actors doing what they do best and use 3D where live action doesnt work.

Polar express for me was disturbing. The characters were close to realistic but resided in that areas where they were off enough to just be disturbing. A real Tom Hanks for me is a lot more interesting then a virutual one. The characters overall in Polar express reminded me of the Simpal Cindy doll in the move The 6th Day....disturbing. :)

DiedonD
03-09-2009, 02:11 AM
Having played with action figures when we were kids, and now seeing those action figures come alive and talk for real, sometimes feels disturbing to the point of even beeing psychotic!!

Schizo's cant differentiate whats imaginary and whats real! So we use to imagine them toys talking and walking, and now them talking and walking on their own for 'real' in TV seems even psycho scarry sometimes!

Its like they are no longer bounded by our hand that animates them, but they are set 'alive' to interact on their own on TV!

Before you had celshaded characters to make it unreal! But in these movies, the more realistic the characters the more it gets disturbing as you say!

It takes some getting use to!

cresshead
03-09-2009, 02:21 AM
beowulf, monster house and polar express are all r & d based films...their cost is high because they're developing "how to" do this by using a real films production rather than just screen tests.

polar express was not good...pretty bad actually
monster house was a good result overall
beowulf was a mix of near perfection of realistic scenes in some areas and bad mo cap cut scene game results in others.

performance capture is still early

best mocap shows> roughnecks starship troopers [1999]
best mocap film to date> final fantasy the spirits within

cresshead
03-09-2009, 02:22 AM
opps double post .sorry!

roughnecks with lightwave 5.7

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f312/thefjk/st_sheet_1.jpg?t=1236587204

cresshead
03-09-2009, 02:32 AM
of course you don't have to be 'photoreal' to be entertaining:agree:

http://www.splinegod.com/foundation/dandare/Dan_and_Sondar.jpg

another fav show...just wish i had ALL of it and not just the dvd which i think is 50% of what was made...

Nemoid
03-09-2009, 02:51 AM
I see Zemeckis as a sort of pioneer, mostly.
Remember who framed Roger Rabbit ? that was a great piece of movie, coupling animation and live action into a great way, before some technologies do do that better came out. It was a great movie for sure. Back to the future series, too were particularly good.
what i think, is that Lately he had the intention to invest in the CG field to prove a point you CAN do a completely CG movie with somewhbat realistic characters.
But actually, the more you get realistic, in CG, imitating human beings, the more you end up to big problems, because everyone is used to see real people all the time, so even the smallest imperfections, especially in movements and subtle nuances become suddenly noticeable.

I think CG is better suited to go beyond what's real, and thus to be coupled with live action, for several purposes, for sfx, , creatures, robots and technical devices, cities, landscapes....things which are impossible to do practically otherwise.
even in this field, sometmes a great practical make up and animatronic, for close ups , is better than CG, so its way better to couple both worlds because results are better, and costs are less.

plus, 3d offers the possibility to to toons, exagerate shapes and movements, to stylize shapes, and this is not a dimnution but it means more freedom and allows to obtain more expressive, and significant results.

The example i always make for this, is Maus (http://images.google.it/imgres?imgurl=http://paul-server.hum.aau.dk/pics/comics/maus-cover1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://24and240.blogspot.com/2006/01/maus-art-spiegelman.html&usg=__XXGNsOoHkuWD8Hfw8FJs4Ni2ouw=&h=1087&w=768&sz=81&hl=it&start=3&um=1&tbnid=82SJl5JuGkvz1M:&tbnh=150&tbnw=106&prev=/images%3Fq%3DMaus%2Bgraphic%2Bnovel%26imgsz%3Dxxla rge%26hl%3Dit%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:it:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D 1) by Art Spiegelman, which is a graphic novel onto shoah. To tell his dramatic story he made hebrews as mouses, Nazi as cats and othe people as pigs . Stylization served the purpose to be less brutal into representation of things, and, offered more expressive possibilities to the author. It is like that even for animated features in many cases. :thumbsup:

Surrealist.
03-09-2009, 03:10 AM
I think it is important for this technology to move forward. With Both Mocap and Animation. The whole point of doing a movie completely virtually is to do it completely virtual. But more to the point to make a movie using actor's talents in a virtual movie.

I actually find more fault in the completely ridiculous absolute disregard for physics that most animators have. I'd rather see a stunt man flying off of a spring board and doing a flip for real and then cutting on action than seeing the equivalent animated.

There seems to be a complete disregard for reality. I don't mean Disney animation or other styles that go over the top. I mean a complete and utter lack of understanding of what a character in the real world would actually do. If you are going for that it takes study of it. And if animators are loosing the battle in these films because the director would rather spend more to see someone who is actually able to do it right, then the animators, in my opinion, have brought this on themselves. As to the director, more power too him.

If I remember correctly the worst parts of Beowolf animation were the parts where they had the guys jumping and flying around and so on. Completely unreal. And it is my guess that those parts were given to the animators. If I am wrong on that point then my next point will explain.

There is something in either case that gets lost in translation. Something happens in the mocap from every one I have seen that gives you this sort of creepy look. Some say it is because it is animation. Animation has to be different. Maybe so. Maybe so. But this is why the technology needs to move forward.

And to the animators loosing out on work, well, only look to themselves. If I had a job directing a movie and I had a choice to have a top notch seasoned actor do the motions rather than some kid out of school, I'll pick the actor. But if an animation house showed me they had some talent and they could actually make a guy jump off a building and land on a moving truck and have it actually look like a stunt man doing it and they could also then make realistic subtle movement the kind of which only a seasoned actor can, in an intimate scene, then I am sold. But currently that level of talent is not there. If it was, it would be exploited I am sure.

From what I have scene with the best of the best teachers from Animation Mentor to the likes of Richard Williams (http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=Richard+Williams&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=Mti0SbfILImGsQPv_IWKAQ&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title#), there is a good reason for this.

Animation training does not prepare animators for realistic movement. It is geared toward training them to make Shrek, Dinsey or Pixar.

These are not realistic characters and you could argue that this is the bulk of the work and I would agree. But it does not train you to take the job away from Jack Nicholson. I think animators can do it. But this technology needs to move forward.

Studying real people as an art for as long as it takes to get it right. Take some acting classes and actually get to the point you can actually act realistically that kind of thing.

I am not saying there is absolutely no talent out there at that level, I am only saying it is not in wide enough numbers and certainly that is due in part to demand and in the training.

If you want to see animators taking over on these films then I think something has to change with how animators approach the craft. I think it can and I think it should.

Until then, there is mocap.

Because I really do think that these total digital films are the thing of the future. The question you have to ask yourself is "Can I animate good enough to co-star with a seasoned Hollywood actor?"

geo_n
03-09-2009, 03:30 AM
But that is precisely the point. This wasn't cost effective at all. It cost more than LORD OF THE RINGS. It could have been cost effective to record voice perfomances and track facial data from actors yes. Then hire other actors to do the physical mocap info for far far less than they pay Angelina Jolie or Anthony Hopkins for a day. Use the tech where it is most productive. But this doesn't seem to be the case. It seems more like ignorance of the process followed by indulgence of the ego. No one stood up to Zemeckis and said "we should do this another way and save $40 million."

I mean you wouldn't hire matte painters to paint a set wall so that it looks like it has all this molding and detail on it for $10,000 when you can pay a carpenter to build it for real for $1,000.

This whole thing reminds me of what a guy told me years ago, "The US spent $4 million dollars to design a pen that would eject ink properly in space...the Russians used a pencil."

Oh I wasn't talking about the movie regarding mocap. I was basing on personal experience that one project that takes maybe just a few hours to mocap a few minutes of human animation and that would be cheaper to hire an animator that will take days to animate to get it as real.
As for the movie, they look realistic so I think they didn't have a choice but to use mocap to make them move realistic. Whether they saved money or not we don't know. But here we do definitely. Having 4 projects at one time and then just doing mocap in 2-3 days is a time and money saver compared to doing it in weeks/months by a highly paid character animator.
FInal Fantasy..this is where the ugly parts of Advent Children are. The non mocap parts. They look stiff especially the fight sequences. Even if they're super humans they just look like super robots. American animation look more fluid imho.

probiner
03-09-2009, 04:40 AM
Jeremy Button was a specific technical need right?

I think its always disturbing to see 3D trying to imitate live action for the whole picture.
Can you identify yourself with a well rendered 3D model? :D Well you can, but the illusion is far from perfection. When we see a good live action movie, we go with the illusion, altough there are times we lose contact and realise its just a movie... With 3D CG, to add to that you notice in many stuff that yell "This is 3D GC". Its artificial beyond the artificial that is acting. So its disturbing in story/action telling many times to flicker btween wanting to belive what you seeing and noticing its something else.

Visual technology superimposes to what is being told and many times doesn't serves the porpuse.

EDIT: change the money flow a bit from the visual tech to good writing. I think its what movies lack today, good stories.

akademus
03-09-2009, 06:27 AM
Yet, animators animating characters produce way better results. There is so much more to animation than mere copying of actors movements and expressions.
That's were you get astray into uncanny valley.

The way I see it, if you can have actor doing it, then you don't need animation. The whole purpose of animation is to portray things that cannot be shot otherwise.

Polar Express was absolutely horrifying to me in terms of constant ugly gut feeling I had during the movie and I didn't even bothered watching Beowulf.

I see animation as art form and there are no shortcuts in art.

cresshead
03-09-2009, 06:30 AM
I see animation as art form and there are no shortcuts in art.

well there's the undo button..that's a shortccut!:D
and copy/paste...:devil:

my, we have it FAR too easy compared to pre computer days!

shrox
03-09-2009, 06:35 AM
I actually didn't realize that Beowulf was animated at first, I kept thinking "what is wrong with this movie?" then I realized it was CG. The bad human animation gave it away. And why can't they get the mouth lip sync right?

akademus
03-09-2009, 06:45 AM
well there's the undo button..that's a shortccut!:D
and copy/paste...:devil:

my, we have it FAR too easy compared to pre computer days!

Hah! Yes, that is why we are doing it wrong :D


I actually didn't realize that Beowulf was animated at first, I kept thinking "what is wrong with this movie?" then I realized it was CG. The bad human animation gave it away. And why can't they get the mouth lip sync right?

Because they are trying to record every mouth movement needed for speaking. It's actually quite the opposite, less is more in lip sync.

bazsa73
03-09-2009, 07:16 AM
I hate CG. It sucks :)

biliousfrog
03-09-2009, 07:54 AM
This whole thing reminds me of what a guy told me years ago, "The US spent $4 million dollars to design a pen that would eject ink properly in space...the Russians used a pencil."

That's a great quote, I actually had one of those pens when I was younger. It sums it up doesn't it, trying to be clever for the sake of being clever rather than making a good film. I thought that FF: Spirits within was quite a good film but it would have been so much better if they'd concentrated on the film rather than the technology, either went live action or properly animated with exagerated poses and dynamic action.

cresshead
03-09-2009, 08:17 AM
That's a great quote, I actually had one of those pens when I was younger. It sums it up doesn't it, trying to be clever for the sake of being clever rather than making a good film. I thought that FF: Spirits within was quite a good film but it would have been so much better if they'd concentrated on the film rather than the technology, either went live action or properly animated with exagerated poses and dynamic action.

that is a great urban myth....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Pen

There exists a common urban legend claiming that the Americans spent $11 million developing the Space Pen, and the Russians used a pencil.[1] In fact, NASA programs have used pencils (for example a 1965 order of mechanical pencils[1]) but because of the danger that a broken-off pencil tip poses in zero gravity and the flammable nature of the wood present in pencils[1] a better solution was needed.

NASA never approached Paul Fisher to develop a pen, nor did Fisher receive any government funding for the pen's development. Fisher invented it independently, and then asked NASA to try it. After the introduction of the AG7 Space Pen, both the American and Soviet (later Russian) space agencies adopted it. Previously both the Russian and American astronauts used grease pencils and plastic slates.[2]

Another rumor has it that the Apollo 11 astronauts accidentally snapped off a switch which was necessary to permit them to fire the engine to return to the Earth; and that a Fisher Space Pen was used to press this button. While the incident did occur, Buzz Aldrin has stated that he in fact used a felt-tip pen for this.[3]

shrox
03-09-2009, 08:20 AM
that is a great urban myth....
the russians did not use a pencil in space as graphite dust etc could end the space mision in disaster.

Yep, it's a myth. Look it up at NASA.

Titus
03-09-2009, 08:28 AM
Jeremy Button.

What on earth I was thinking that made me write Jeremy instead of Benjamin? :D.

biliousfrog
03-09-2009, 08:28 AM
I looked it up here:

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

not completely a myth as both the Russians and US did use pencils until 1968

shrox
03-09-2009, 08:33 AM
I looked it up here:

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

not completely a myth as both the Russians and US did use pencils until 1968

The supposed development paid by NASA is a myth.

SplineGod
03-09-2009, 09:27 AM
trying to be clever for the sake of being clever rather than making a good film. I thought that FF: Spirits within was quite a good film but it would have been so much better if they'd concentrated on the film rather than the technology, either went live action or properly animated with exagerated poses and dynamic action.

I agree. I think its more about Zemekis being enamored with the technology more then anything else.

Ernest
03-09-2009, 10:40 AM
I have the theory that their mocap system cannot detect subtle movements from the face markers if the movements are perpendicular to the camera. That's why the performances tended to look better when the characters were constantly rotating than when they were just facing the camera. At least in Beowulf. In Polar Express they looked bad no matter what.

I think that if they can keep using the Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie models in other movies without hiring them, the investment will be worth it.

bobakabob
03-09-2009, 11:10 AM
I agree with biliousfrog and splinegod. Too many contemporary CGI films set out to blitz the audience with visual effects and forget about characterisation and narrative.

Because they're so desperate to impress with ridiculous hyperactive CG monsters and fast moving jump cuts they lack the sheer dramatic power of early stop frame classics like Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts. Who can forget the drama of Talos or the army of skeletons, where the animations were neatly woven into the story and actually trounced the admittedly creaky acting in the live action sequences?

http://oldschoolreviews.com/images/movies/jason_argo.jpg

You would think directors would have learned from Carpenter's 'Thing', Scott's 'Alien' (and even Cameron's 'Aliens') all about the art of building suspense in the imagination of the audience and crediting them with a modicum of intelligence. Instead we're subjected to trash like Cloverfield. A great concept but why did they have to ruin it with a CGI monster? :)

shrox
03-09-2009, 11:19 AM
I always thought if funny that in Jason and the Argonauts, set thousands of years ago, they fought the skeletons in the ruins of the Acropolis!

skate23
03-09-2009, 11:20 AM
absolutely- story, story, story...any actor or director worth their salt would agree.

i enjoyed beowulf for the stereoscopic use...I'd call it the best use of stereoscopic so far...and the anthony hopkins model could have fooled me into thinking we'd left the strange valley sometimes...but having said that, you gotta look to the past, and i believe beowulf represents the earliest known story out of western europe, so that is quite a pedigree...but i think it was chuck jones who said animators shouldnt be trying represent what is real, but what is NOT real...and i think there is a great deal of wisdom there...was Peter Jackson's Kong better than Willis O'briens? Personally, I dont think so...I'd advocate style over realism every time...and am banking on this 'swim upstream' completely in my career...I mean, we're artists , right?? I can look out of my window and see reality every day.
the pursuit of photorealism and virtual humans is an interesting challenge, but I believe the job of an animator is far broader than that...we got to go in different directions and stop being obsessed with HDRI and sss...that's only one choice in an infinity of styles.

john

biliousfrog
03-09-2009, 11:43 AM
I always thought if funny that in Jason and the Argonauts, set thousands of years ago, they fought the skeletons in the ruins of the Acropolis!

I've never thought of that haha. It's quite a good point actually considering the thread, it's all about suggestion rather than 100% accuracy...you knew that it was the acropolis didn't you?

bobakabob
03-09-2009, 11:53 AM
I always thought if funny that in Jason and the Argonauts, set thousands of years ago, they fought the skeletons in the ruins of the Acropolis!

Well the Athenian Acropolis as we know it is over 2000 years old. Ain't that old enough for ya? Anyway, Jason and the Argonauts is sacred so don't knock it ;)

biliousfrog
03-09-2009, 12:06 PM
absolutely- story, story, story...any actor or director worth their salt would agree.

i enjoyed beowulf for the stereoscopic use...I'd call it the best use of stereoscopic so far...and the anthony hopkins model could have fooled me into thinking we'd left the strange valley sometimes...but having said that, you gotta look to the past, and i believe beowulf represents the earliest known story out of western europe, so that is quite a pedigree...but i think it was chuck jones who said animators shouldnt be trying represent what is real, but what is NOT real...and i think there is a great deal of wisdom there...was Peter Jackson's Kong better than Willis O'briens? Personally, I dont think so...I'd advocate style over realism every time...and am banking on this 'swim upstream' completely in my career...I mean, we're artists , right?? I can look out of my window and see reality every day.
the pursuit of photorealism and virtual humans is an interesting challenge, but I believe the job of an animator is far broader than that...we got to go in different directions and stop being obsessed with HDRI and sss...that's only one choice in an infinity of styles.

john

I think that it has a place. Look at the (dead) housing market...realistic architectural visuals can sell a building before it's built or show planning departments how it will look. The thing with Beowolf, Polar Express and final fantasy is that they've already got the house and they're laser scanning it into the computer and spending months texturing and lighting it to look real...where a photo would look better, take five minutes and the PA could even shoot it on her cell phone.

What I find exciting about Benjamin Button is that it solved a problem that couldn't be tackled any other way. The only alternative would have been puppets or prosthetics which would have had a negative impact on the story. The technology also means that Brad Pitt could appear in films long after he's dead as he wasn't filmed with mocap but instead had his expressions captured and animated by animators.

Although credit must go to the people that worked on the technical side of BB, I honestly think that Fincher was ultimately responsible for how well the film works. He uses technology to overcome a problem rather than use it as a crutch...it probably comes from working in various jobs in the industry including practical effects.

The CG in Fight Club is among my favourites in any film, it's almost seemless but integral to the narrative.

OnlineRender
03-09-2009, 02:58 PM
I saw BWOlF in IMAX 3D cinema and thought woow

lwanmtr
03-09-2009, 03:48 PM
Havent seen Beowolf yet....

As someone posted earlier (names are hidden to protect the not so innocent). Schools do not teach mocap or realistic movement at all...its always the 12 principals...exageration is what is taught...why? Because thats how Disney did it. For cartoons and kiddie stuff it works great, unfortunately these principals are always applied to realistic cg as well....

Polar Express..this one is hard for people to accept because the human brain is wired to recognise certain things in a certain way..the skewed realism here just throws a wrench into things..plus the movement is based on cartoon movement.

The shots I've seen from Beowolf have really great movement because they didnt apply the exageration method...It was mocap, with some cleanup and minor tweaking. Of course, the models still throw the brain for a loop because while they are realistic, they still lack a certain aspect that our brains are looking for, and so we cant quite accept it.

I'm glad someone else remembered Roughnecks. It was a good series produced with LW 5.6. However, the characters moved too much when they talked...and sadly I still see that in 3d stuff today. People dont bob their heads and move their bodies like Micheal J. Fox when they talk.

I can animate, but I'm learning more mocap now because it's faster to get a movement into the computer than to try and keyframe everything.

I think that we're gonna see more and more use of Mocap and less 'traditional' as the systems get better and less expensive...the only suggestion I have is to go with the flow..if you're a traditional animator, start learnin some mocap stuff...or better yet, develop a method for keyframe animation that will result in realistic movement :)

ranhell
03-09-2009, 04:03 PM
apple seed one and two i thought were good well rounded films....