Monday, October 26, 2009

Live Action?

The New York Times details Disney's big push for the oncoming Christmas Carol:

What does it take to persuade the world it needs yet another “Christmas Carol” adaptation? Apparently, a whole lot of hard sell. ... Disney’s studio is backing the movie’s Nov. 6 release with one of the most elaborate and expensive marketing campaigns in its history, at least for a live-action film.

Uh ... live-action? Okay, if the Times says so. But the gray lady also points out another daunting barrier.

... [T]he studio is replowing perhaps the most overplowed piece of intellectual property in history. The 1843 novella about a greedy curmudgeon who is visited by three apparitions on Christmas Eve is old enough that it is public domain, and it has been adapted for stage, television and film more than 50 times in recent decades, including an all-dog version.

Plus one with Mr. Magoo. And another with Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Scrooge McDuck. But of course, those two were animation, and this entry is live-action.

And I've really got no idea how it will do when it's released next month, none. The story's a good one, but face it: the book has been done six ways to Sunday. The 3-D of this edition will be a plus, and Robert Z.s previous motion capture films have done respectable business. Polar Express, whether you like it or not, has been a solid money-maker.

So who knows? Maybe Disney's publicity department is right that CC is one big three dimensional thrill ride, and audiences will lap it up. The Mouse is certainly putting enough money behind the idea to make it viable. I suppose by the holiday season we should know, yes?.


Anonymous said...

"Mr. Zoradi said, adding that the visual style was “very new and very hip. It’s a 3-D thrill ride from start to finish.”"

BULLSHIT. It's ugly, unappealing, and looks like third rate Thomas Kinkaide. And it moves funny.

It's about as "un-hip" as things come.

It's got a long way to go to make money (reportedly costing close to $300 million to make).

Anonymous said...

Whats the payoff if the end result costs more than Live action, and looks creepy as hell? Someone please send one of these ghosts to Robert Zemeckis's house and ask him kindly to stop with the Motion Capture, Uncanny Valley series of films he's putting out. It hurts our eyes. You can make unappealing, creepy live action films for much less money....

Anonymous said...

For me the only good "new" movie about A Christmas Carol was 1988's Scrooged.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Bill Murray acted as lively as a mo-cap figure in that one.

Anonymous said...

Bill Murray was awesome in that. Go soak your head.

PS) Go watch Princess and the Frog instead


Anonymous said...

Unlike most individuals posting in blogs about Christmas Carol, I have seen the entire movie. Twice. I enjoyed it even more the second time, and I would consider seeing it again.

Steve Hulett said...

Anon 8:57,

I see that you like it. What did you find most compelling about it? The 3-D? The visuals?

Story-wise, the clips that I've seen indicate the it hews closely to Dickens's original manuscript. Am I right about this?

Anonymous said...

You haters are so typical. Cant you wait and see the film first before you start with the hate? The few trailers that are out are not enough to judge a film by. This film has come a long way since Polar Express. There will be plenty of folks who will enjoy it. Don't just watch this film for the effects, watch it for the story too. A lot of hard work was put into it. There are a lot of people who are very proud of this film. Sheesh...

Steve Hulett said...

Hey. I'm not a hater. I fully intend to see it.

Floyd Norman said...

Put me down as a hater.

I've been watching this abomination at Disney, and it makes me want to boycott Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the entire film as well (2 weeks ago). It is AWFUL. AWFUL! Boring, unimaginative, and UGLY.

How sad. I feel terribly sorry for the crew.

anon 8:57 said...

I'll be glad to say why I liked it.

Once Marley and the spirits show up, the movie flies by in an exciting and fun pace. At some points it's quite intense. When it slows down, it's for those key emotional moments, which are handled beautifully.

Earlier takes on a Christmas Carol were never given very good special effects. This version more than makes up for that. It's spectacular. All previous versions now seem quaint, as in stodgy and slow, as many classics are.

As far as the mocap goes, it's no longer a problem. A couple of secondary characters don't quite reach the same level, but one exceeds it. Young Scrooge's betrothed, is flawless, in appearance and motion. A beautiful woman is the benchmark of art.

This movie should do well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:57, I hope you arent tuggin our dicks.

Benchmark of Art? Mocap no longer a problem? Ill hold you to these statements. I saw the trailers, and there was nothing worth noting.

Are you sure you arent just too close to it to be objective? Its okay, we've all done it.

Anonymous said...

As much as the mo-cap in films like Polar Express and Beowulf bothers me it is a necessary step in technology. If we refuse to do something because it may fall into the uncanny valley then how will we progress? Hopefully (sooner rather than later) these mo-cap films will continue to progress until there is no uncanny valley. And once that technology spreads around there will be even more jobs for everyone.

Just remember, love it or hate it, Zemickis mo-cap films have employed 100's of animators and technicians over the past few years and will only employ more as it spreads. And in the end, 99% of viewers don't see (or don't care) about the inconsistencies animators see in these films.

Anonymous said...

Why didnt they just make this live action with special effects for the ghosts and whatnot?


IMD animator said...

IMD has several hundred union members in this union. It sucks that we have to come here and see crap flung at us from fellow animators and technicians. We put a lot of effort into making this film and building a studio all in 3 years. Performance capture is just a tiny slice of what went into this film. We have 50+ animators as well doing fantastic work. Keep that in mind when you DON'T GO see the film that helps keep your health care costs down. So when you're done preaching about purifying the art of animation keep in mind there are hundreds of us on the crew who think it's an awesome film... and we read this blog.

Anonymous said...

Don't get too upset, IMD animator. A vet once told me that fellow animators are often like crabs in a bucket. You know, when one crab is on the verge of climbing out, the other crabs grab 'em and pull 'em back down.

Shadenfreude is endemic. You see every studio and every type of animation trashed, but always anonymously. I wish you good luck, and I think it's great that there's now a solid union studio up north.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I think your film LOOKS bad (I havent seen it, so I dont know if it IS bad). But it DOES look bad. (motion capture wise, everything else looks fine)

Motion-capture rant:

Do I give a shit if you're animators too? Nope. I hate motion capture. It looks like crap (even when it's done correctly) and if you coulda filmed it, why bother doubling your budget? Makes no sense.

Gollum I understood to some degree. Davey Jones I understood to some degree. But a cg old-looking Jim Carrey with mocapped face I dont get. He's the most capable face actor there is! Why bother trying to replicate something that can be filmed?

If anything, you're making it worse on the rest of us feature animators because on paper it looks like we're easily replaceable by technology, when the truth is it takes just as much animation to clean that crap up than it is to do it from scratch.

ALSO, motion capture is a marginalized technology that can only exist to capture (often limited) human acting. You'll never be able to get performances out of non-humans (which over half animated films are). So why should we support a technology that, even at its best, is limited and has a small scope?

Are you really surprised you wouldnt find support here?

PS) Do I hope the film does well and you make a ton of money? YES! But only because I want the film industry to thrive. But do I want "performance capture" to die quickly? Yes. I bet if you ask your animators there, they'll say the same thing.

And now, for an opposing view:


Anonymous said...

blah, blah, blah...

Steve Hulett said...

Can't we all just get along?

There's no point in trashing films or studios, but it happens. I'm not going to do any wholesale censoring of it.

Flame away.

Anonymous said...

He's not trashing a film or studio, he's trashing performance capture.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, and James Cameron have a different opinion of performance capture.

Maybe you want to take your opinion, gather up millions and millions of dollars to pay a crew with, and show these guys how it's done.

Anonymous said...

Even though there are people who keep trashing mo cap, films will continue to be made using this technology. If you haven't noticed people like these films. Oh and they happen to make quite a lot of money for everyone involved in making them.
So no mater how much animators cant stand it, mo cap is here to stay and it's only getting better.

Anonymous said...

The only one who got it right so far is Gollum, and if you ask any of those guys, it was eventually mostly hand keyed anyway. (obviously the face was all hand keyed)

So no matter how much animators cant stand it, mo cap will always need to be cleaned up, deleted, and redone.

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