Saturday, March 26, 2011

Worry About the Next Mocap Feature

Didn't take long for the media's Concern Trolls to come out:

Mars may need moms, but Tintin needs moviegoers. So it must be worrying to producers/directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson that, even as Disney tries to recover from the disastrous showing of Mars Needs Moms, their own performance-capture 3D production, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, doesn't open until December.

A decade ago, Motion Capture was "The Next Exciting Thing" for filmmakers. They could direct an actor's performance, but because they were capturing the acting digitally rather than with a camera, they could change angles as often as they desired. Move the thesping around. Tinker and tinker and tinker with the digital sets.

Trouble is, MoCap's Uncanny Valley and Living Dead overtones, especially when there's no actual live-action in the mix, isn't a people magnet. This has got to be a concern for studios that have Motion Capture productions in the pipeline.

To paraphrase Sam Goldwyn: "When they don't want to come watch your expensive digital production, you can't stop them."


Anonymous said...

Avatar was motion capture. Its just another tool in the filmmaking arsenal just like sound, color, 3d, Vfx, etc.

Anonymous said...

I think Tintin will do well. The dead-eyes complaints I hear about ImageMovers, I very rarely (if ever) hear regarding WETA's mo-cap creations.

Plus, it's Steven Spielberg adapting one of the most beloved comic book series in the world. I don't see it not being a hit, especially in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Avatar was motion capture. Its just another tool in the filmmaking arsenal just like sound, color, 3d, Vfx, etc.

But "Avatar" was a mix of live-action and mo-cap. I highly doubt that it would have been as successful if they used mo-cap for both humans and aliens and it was a completely mo-cap film.

Anonymous said...

and speilberg directed Hook, 1941, Always, The Terminal, Amistad, A.I. and The Color Purple. And Peter Jackson directed Lovely Bones. Not that they didn't make a few good films, but they're just as capable of making very bad ones.

I see it not being a hit. No one cares about Tin Tin, and most people out of a few European countries have heard of it.

Anonymous said...

No one cares about Tin Tin, and most people out of a few European countries have heard of it.

Whether Tintin is a hit or not has little to do with whether people are familiar with the original comic book or not. Nobody had heard of "The Matrix" or "Inception" before they were made into movies. They weren't even prior source material movies.

What will decide whether Tintin is a hit or not is whether the trailers and advertising look compelling. Nothing substantial has been released yet, aside from some vague stills, so there is nothing to base that on.

Anonymous said...

"What will decide whether Tintin is a hit or not is whether the trailers and advertising look compelling."

I completely agree with that.

Anonymous said...

Where does this crap argument come from that mo-cap is a great tool "as long as it is combined with live action"? Did somebody do some statistics again???

The reason mo-cap has been succesfull in combination with live action is because in most of those instances there has been a lot of keyframed animation involved that was very well executed.
Also, in the films where mo-cap was combined with live action the characters where either not human or it was a digital double only used for fast action sequences.

So the right conclusions would be:
- Mo-cap works when it's used as a tool to base keyframed animation on.
- Mo-cap can be a valuable short cut when creating stylized animation for non human creatures.

And not:
- Mo-cap only works when combined with live action.

C'mon people, is that so hard to analyze?

whiskeytangofoxtrot said...

I liked 'A.I.'...its better than 'Bolt' anyway....

Against Anonymous said...

Better than Bolt? lets see...

A.I. made 235,9 million dollars worldwide in 2001, adjusted by inflation in 2011 that would be 333,8 million dollars.

It has a 73% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, 68% with the top critics, and 58% from the audience.

Bolt in the other hand has made 310 million dollars worldwide in 2008, adjusted by inflation in 2011 that would be 345,8 million dollars.

It has an 89% at Rotten Tomatoes, 77% from the top critics and a 76% from the audience.

So in conclusion Bolt is much better than A.I.

Anonymous said...

Where are all my movie fans claiming that "story is everything?" If I remember correctly, these people were swarming the blogs when Disney shut down their traditional animation studio in favor of CG saying "no! no! no! no! no! no! Animation quality has nothing to do with it! It's story! story! STORY!"

Where are these people when it comes to mo-cap?

For the past 5 years, I've heard nothing but complaining from individuals around the net, audiences and critics alike, who shout out: "Mo-cap is terrible! It ruined the story! The movie did poorly because of mo-cap! My life is ruined because of mo-cap!"

Personally, I want motion capture to continue because technology improves. Somebody here mentioned Avatar. That's a good example of good mo-cap. And I didn't think "Mars Needs Moms" looked THAT bad!

Anonymous said...

"Monster House" had a pretty darn good story. But, while story is the single MOST important factor, it isn't the SOLE EXCLUSIVE factor. Properly key-animated, "Monster House" probably would've been a bigger hit. It was fairly inescapable while watching it that the characters just weren't connecting, because of their dead eyes, and lackluster facial expressions.

Anonymous said...

This is just my conjecture (as opposed to your conjecture), but it wasn't Mo-Cap that made Monster House a poor performing feature. It was the fact that A) it was poorly marketed and B) it was too scary for small children and word of mouth killed it. I NEVER heard anyone complain about the Mo-Cap.

I'm not a Mo-Cap fan, but let's stop trying to blame bad films on the Mo-Cap. The films that failed would've failed if they had looked like Toy Story or Tangled for crying out loud!
Let's be realistic - Zemekis has been running on fumes since Back to the Future 1!

Anonymous said...

Monster House is a great film, and would have been a far less successful film artistically if not for Jay Redd at Imageworks. He carried that film for the first-time-feature director when that director was searching for answers.

(And no, I am not Jay Redd.)

Anonymous said...

I NEVER heard anyone complain about the Mo-Cap.

While you didn't hear complaints, you also didn't hear praise for the animation. People came out of Tangled and HTTYD raving about the animation. People came out of Monster House saying it was better animation than Final Fantasy. Seriously, it wasn't that fun to watch, and it had a distinctly 'nothing special' look about it.

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