'The BFG' Visual Effects Whiz Joe Letteri Makes the Case for Motion-Capture Performances
The film combines live action with a performance capture giant played by the Oscar-winning Mark Rylance.
... “Each character comes with its own challenges and you apply what you’ve learned to each new project so we’re constantly improving the quality level,” Letteri told The Hollywood Reporter. “Our recent work on the BFG required us to deliver a 24-foot giant whose performance was so close to what Mark Rylance did on set that you’re almost asking the audience to see through the digital character and emotionally connect with Mark.
“Mark used extraordinary subtlety in his performance of the BFG and it was up to us to understand how his acting manifested itself visually so we could make our giant convey the same thing.” ...
The thing about motion capture is, when it's used in conjunction with live-action, it tends to be reasonably effective. Planet of the Apes and Avatar were all movies audiences embraced. The mo cap was well-integrated with live-action characters and environments, and the movie-going public beat a path to the movie-makers big-budget features.
With wall-to-wall mo cap, specimens like A Christmas Carol or Tin-tin don't perform very well. There is a deadness in the eyes, a stiffness in the performance, and more than a hint of "The Uncanny Valley" that makes theater-goers a wee bit uncomfortable. It's not pure animation and it's not live-action, but for most people it seems a trifle weird.
How Spielberg's BFG ultimately performs is still up in the air, but the creators were smart enough to blond motion capture with real people, so there will be fewer creeped-out audience members. Uncanny valleys will be kept to the lowest possible minimums.
Add On: What's often overlooked in "mo cap" movies, where publicity departments (not to mention the directors of these films) always tout the actors and their performances, while ignoring the people at the computers enhancing and enriching images on the screen, including the histrionics.