Saturday, June 04, 2011

News Flash!

The L.A. Times headlines:

An animation producer says performance capture is not true animation ...

Hollywood powerhouse Steven Spielberg, we're told, wants his upcoming MoCap movie Tintin to be considered an "animated feature" when academy award time rolls around. But it's hard to debate producer Steven Leiva's argument taking issue with the premise:

"As you view ... classic character animation ..., realize that what you are seeing are not drawings that move and act, but rather, movement and acting that is drawn."

Performance capture does none of this. In performance capture you document a preexisting life; you do not create the illusion of it.

There's a reason that animator/director/writer Brad Bird got snarky about motion capture in the credits of The Incredibles. He knows, as most long-time veterans of animation know, that motion capture is little more than good old-fashioned rotoscope in digital format. The technique is effective in its way, but not something audiences necessarily want to see ... unless presented in the shapes of tall, blue space aliens playing against actual human beings.

This problem never reared its head when animated features were mostly Disney products that mainstream picture makers ignored. But now that animated features are Big Business, and everyone this side of Cecil B. DeMille is jumping into the art form, the big shots want to dictate how the category is defined.

For James Cameron, his mocap was "live action." Mr. Spielberg's brand is (apparently) "animation." However, Steven Paul Leiva's definition hits the nail squarely on the head. Motion capture registers a preexisting performance. It doesn't create a new one. The definition is as accurate for Gulliver in Fleischer's "Gulliver's Travels, as it is for all the characters in Spielberg's Tintin.

Saying it's otherwise is as truthful (and useful) as calling a cat a dog.


Anonymous said...

The method of the animation should not dictate if a film should be called animated or not. THis basically discounts all of the hard work that the modelers, texture artists, lighters, riggers, FX artists put in. Just because one part of the pipeline uses a different method of animation, does not disqualify it as an animated film.

If motion capture is the only thing that makes an animated film not an animated film, then by that very same token, a robot that has had it's motion derived from hand created animation and filmed live action can be an animated film, because by some peoples very distinct ideals, that real robot has been hand animated.

The animators or motion capture artists are not the only part of the animation pipeline for goodness sakes.

madhavi said...

hey very good collection of information

Anonymous said...

I technically agree. The problem is that a lot of times the mocap data is not being used and people animate by hand, so the movie ends up being traditionally animated, but the studio still labels it as a fully mocapped movie.

And as always, the people complaining about mocap are the ones who don't work with it. Ignorance is bliss.


yahweh said...

This is all about arrogance.
If the film is badly animated whether Mo-Cap or traditional (or somewhere in-between) the chances of it getting a nomination for Best Animated Film are very slim much less would it win. So those that made this decision don't have faith in the nominating committee or in the voting process. Re-work the nomination process if they think there's a problem - or keep people from voting (for the final award)if they can't prove they haven't seen all the films. That's the biggest problem if you ask me and almost guarantees Pixar a win any year it's nominated just due to name recognition and the chances of a film like the Illusionist ever winning again.

If the producers of a film want to submit it and call their Mo-Cap animation or live-action how does that bother anyone? All this is doing is shoving us into more of a ghetto than ever.
If someone like Cameron doesn't want to admit their film is mostly animated (and deny animators their due credit) then big deal. That's his gamble. If the Animation Board wanted to go after something that should be their cause - force films like Avatar to be submitted into the animation category and stop Cameron from lying about how his film was made (with the significant contributions of real animators) not go after someone who is using the digital equivalent to roto-scoping.

My guess is this will bite animation on the ass in the future to all of our regret.

Anonymous said...

>>Just because one part of the pipeline uses a different method of animation, does not disqualify it as an animated film.<<

Ahh. Yes it does. Obviously.

As it should! For once, I'm proud of the Academy for clarifying this and handling the situation like they did.

Anonymous said...

At his villa somewhere in Tuscany, Bob Z. is praying hard for Tintin to bomb big-time.

"You see! It wasn't ME!...."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steven Kaplan said...

Above off-topic comments removed by yours truly.

Site Meter