Keyframed Animation Movies

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Old 05 May 2013   #1
Keyframed Animation Movies

Are all stylized movies like Despicable me, Brave, Rise of the Guardians all been keyframed or motion capture have also been used? How can you tell if a bi-ped character has been mocapped? In the Spiderman movies, where Spiderman swings from one building to the next, has that been motion captured?
 
Old 05 May 2013   #2
The likes of stylized stuff from Pixar, Dreamworks, Bluesky is 100% keyframed. I'm studying with animators that work/have worked at those studios so I have this from the horses mouth. They do sometimes use mocap for previs but that's a relatively new development and that motion is not used in the final film.

Regarding spiderman swinging from building to building..well... I think some might be looking at this clip, some is real stuntmen being filmed (why mocap if you can actually film it) and some is keyframed (the really impossible stuff).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDZyNVNXjRM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzwU9KYsPfs

You need a huge mocap stage for that stuff though, not cheap!

Mocap is best for games really in my opinion, movies that use it tend to slip into the uncanny valley pretty fast, see for reference Beowulf, Polar Express and Tintin. Even when it is used successfully like say on something like Avatar you can be sure that the data was heavily edited and finessed by skilled animators. Raw mocap usually looks like crap as it only captures the surface detail of a move, it doesn't get the weight generally.

Cheers,
Brian

Last edited by Horganovski : 05 May 2013 at 04:50 AM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #3
Originally Posted by Horganovski: Mocap is best for games really in my opinion, movies that use it tend to slip into the uncanny valley pretty fast, see for reference Beowulf, Polar Express and Tintin. Even when it is used successfully like say on something like Avatar you can be sure that the data was heavily edited and finessed by skilled animators. Raw mocap usually looks like crap as it only captures the surface detail of a move, it doesn't get the weight generally.

According to you then about two thirds or more of the bipedal animation in movies (excluding the impossible feat ones) would be uncanny valley

It's also sort of the opposite.
Mocap often gets you excellent high frequency and weight (you seem to be talking of mocap years ago, modern mocap is very far from looking like crap).

It IS often tweaked to death, usually because of pose or coreography needs more so than other factors, or because it's just a base for a creature of mass and configuration very different from a human, but while disliked by many animators, it's come a very long way from what you describe.

These days the better end-to-end mocap facilities will provide you with some amazing pre-processed mocap with not the slightest hint of bad noise or slipping already targeted to a transformation rig you provide, and internal mocap studios do very much the same or even better for the facilities that have it.

Uncanny valley usually has absolutely nothing at all to do with mocap, especially not in a movie like tin tin (which skirted in and out due to other reasons), and a lot more to do with eyes, faces, or the sheer impossibility of the actions/coreography requested by the director in relationship to realistic mass and momentum of a subject.

If anything I've seen animators taking the weight away from mocap while cleaning it, and struggling for weeks to inject it back to the same level once all the offsets and animation changes were addressed (through no fault of their own, it's an absolute bitch to get right when you play it by ear).
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Old 05 May 2013   #4
Well that told me! I guess I should preface my arguments against it by saying that I am definitely biased against it. It does look bad to me , even high end stuff like The Hobbit, Avatar etc, just has that weird look to it to in my eyes, people talk on about the technical developments and I just think, ok why doesn't it look better then?

When I look at stylized stuff by skilled animators like the people at Disney, Pixar etc it has, ironically, so much more 'life' to it and I don't find myself pulled out of the story all the time by stuff that just feels off. When I watch most FX heavy movies I do get pulled out of the story all the time by stuff that just looks or feels wrong.
I remain convinced that the motion is often what drags something into the uncanny valley, it's an opinion and a feeling, so subjective, yes. But it's my opinion.

Cheers,
Brian

Last edited by Horganovski : 05 May 2013 at 06:00 AM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #5
The motion "uncanny valley" you're talking about is not an unacanny valley. which as a concept is based on a certain amount of creepyness and revulsion inspired by something that gets too close to the familiar but not close enough.

I get what you mean though, and it's hardly ever, if ever at all, because of mocap, it's usually because the requirements of the shot are past the limit where even the more skilled animators can make things plausible.

It's like when working in FX they ask you to make something look bigger, but they want it to move faster, and possibly also want to alter the perceived distance.

Given big is largely a matter of how your brain compares gravity and other forces it's accustomed to see in operation all the time, faster makes the challenge of making something look also bigger while in a similar screen space and perceived distance impossible.

Similarly, when the vfx supe or the director is adamant that the creature needs to reach the ground in no more than the first 8 frames (defying gravity like they were shot by a cannon at a speed sufficient to liquify their internal organs), come to standing still within the next 4, because that's when the actor's cue kicks in, and they don't have the money to add the pavement crumpling like paper at the appropriate sledge hammer force, you end up with something that looks like a turd. Well polished, maybe, but a turd none the less.

Then it gets passed to charFX which are asked to "make it look heavier" by adding skin ripples to the point you would think the mob was being flown into high density atmosphere at mach 4, thinking it will fix it, and the final shot then looks like a gigantic jell-o hulking beast with the density of polystyrene was flung into the ground by a gigantic trebuchet just off screen.

When you watch cartoony animation, your mind is much more willing to let go of its subconscious ties to Newtonian physics, the entire set of cues and context is at your disposal to change, and you deal with a director unit much more closely attuned to the process you produce the pixels from.

Mocap has very little to do with all of that, the excessive liberty taken in shots across the board and the impossible requests often advanced on animators and FX staff will most commonly do.
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Old 05 May 2013   #6
Interesting, and makes sense. I do reserve the right to be wrong at least once a day.

I guess the original post here rubbed me up the wrong way and put me on the defensive. I find it kind of insulting to the craft of animation when someone even entertains the idea that the likes of Despicable Me or Brave might be mocap. I've spent hours frame-by-framing that kind of stuff to study it and I believe I can see the thought and care that was put in by amazing animators who make clever choices about line of action, silhouette, spacing etc. For someone to assume 'hey that was just a guy in a mocap suit' is kind of insulting to the artform and the people I look up to who can create it to that level.

Cheers,
Brian
 
Old 05 May 2013   #7
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: The motion "uncanny valley" you're talking about is not an unacanny valley. which as a concept is based on a certain amount of creepyness and revulsion inspired by something that gets too close to the familiar but not close enough.

I get what you mean though, and it's hardly ever, if ever at all, because of mocap, it's usually because the requirements of the shot are past the limit where even the more skilled animators can make things plausible.

It's like when working in FX they ask you to make something look bigger, but they want it to move faster, and possibly also want to alter the perceived distance.

Given big is largely a matter of how your brain compares gravity and other forces it's accustomed to see in operation all the time, faster makes the challenge of making something look also bigger while in a similar screen space and perceived distance impossible.

Similarly, when the vfx supe or the director is adamant that the creature needs to reach the ground in no more than the first 8 frames (defying gravity like they were shot by a cannon at a speed sufficient to liquify their internal organs), come to standing still within the next 4, because that's when the actor's cue kicks in, and they don't have the money to add the pavement crumpling like paper at the appropriate sledge hammer force, you end up with something that looks like a turd. Well polished, maybe, but a turd none the less.

Then it gets passed to charFX which are asked to "make it look heavier" by adding skin ripples to the point you would think the mob was being flown into high density atmosphere at mach 4, thinking it will fix it, and the final shot then looks like a gigantic jell-o hulking beast with the density of polystyrene was flung into the ground by a gigantic trebuchet just off screen.

When you watch cartoony animation, your mind is much more willing to let go of its subconscious ties to Newtonian physics, the entire set of cues and context is at your disposal to change, and you deal with a director unit much more closely attuned to the process you produce the pixels from.

Mocap has very little to do with all of that, the excessive liberty taken in shots across the board and the impossible requests often advanced on animators and FX staff will most commonly do.



"Look Bigger" is actually acceptable as feedback?

I must be too nice considering I always draft feedback in "Problem + Suggested Solution" format!

Interesting what you're mentioning. We're studying the same thing right now and definitely there's this element where animating in a more vibrant way actually calls for NOT following reality.

Mocap is something I considered.. but basically if you can't get it right (right equipment or right methodology) I think it's more problem than solution.

The decision not to use Mocap I believe is an artistic one mostly, but also sometimes you just can't have the budget for the equipment needed to "get it right".

Films like "The Incredibles" would lose some of their charm with mocap.. the characters have all these "Stylized Nuances" that have their foundation in real-life nuances but re-applied artistically by an animator.
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Old 05 May 2013   #8
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: "Look Bigger" is actually acceptable as feedback?

If you ask me to make an explosion look bigger, in the same screen space, you will have such things.
If you ask me to make an explosion look bigger, possibly receed it from camera a bit but make it take more space, and you also want the debris to move faster because debris 5 needs to hit that one building 10 frames sooner, you will be asked to kindly go and perform unspeakable acts with farm animals.

Sadly, since we're paid for our time (not that being paid is sad, following part is), and the system has it that the director is hard to refuse, you smile, nod, and proceed to royally F the shot up in such a way that the next SOD will be asked to patch a fundamental issue through other means, and only proceed the shot farther and further into F***dome, department by department, until the final pixels will represent something there is no time or money left to tweak, but everybody agrees looks like the most pristine, crisp, well polished turd ever to leave the door

Quote: Interesting what you're mentioning. We're studying the same thing right now and definitely there's this element where animating in a more vibrant way actually calls for NOT following reality.

Mocap is something I considered.. but basically if you can't get it right (right equipment or right methodology) I think it's more problem than solution.

The decision not to use Mocap I believe is an artistic one mostly, but also sometimes you just can't have the budget for the equipment needed to "get it right".

Films like "The Incredibles" would lose some of their charm with mocap.. the characters have all these "Stylized Nuances" that have their foundation in real-life nuances but re-applied artistically by an animator.

You have realistic, plausible, directable. Same way as you have cheap, fast, good. Pick any two.

Stylized animation only needs plausibility and shoots for a well directed and crafted look. When done well, it's spectacular because it does away with just the right amount of limitations to be both controllabe to hit pitch perfect design, and plausible enough that your brain doesn't refuse it.

When you get asked for absolute realism, you are given a context with clear boundaries (IE: a plate with stuff moving around), and yet asked fine control down to the cues and frames or screenspace/time, you are in for horrible results, unless the person making the requesting knows how to direct things so they remain plausible.

When you are asked for absolute realism no matter what it looks like, and given no constraints but that, you get invisible effects done for cheap.

VFX friendly directors and supes are those that know how to balance those three elements, and plan for it.
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Old 05 May 2013   #9
You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.
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Old 05 May 2013   #10
Originally Posted by axiomatic: You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.
Worst Etsy store ever.
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Old 05 May 2013   #11
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Sadly, since we're paid for our time (not that being paid is sad, following part is), and the system has it that the director is hard to refuse, you smile, nod, and proceed to royally F the shot up in such a way that the next SOD will be asked to patch a fundamental issue through other means, and only proceed the shot farther and further into F***dome, department by department, until the final pixels will represent something there is no time or money left to tweak, but everybody agrees looks like the most pristine, crisp, well polished turd ever to leave the door


The VFX industry would likely benefit from a
'Gallery Abominate Professional'.

Each submission would contain something like this:

Before-
We had this footage 'show clip as recorded on set/location'
The director asked for 'this', 'this' and 'that'.
Here are the reasons why this makes no sense.

After-
And here is the result anyway (show released film footage).
 
Old 05 May 2013   #12
Originally Posted by axiomatic: You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

Good morning CGTalk. I needed that laugh to start my day.
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Old 05 May 2013   #13
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: The motion "uncanny valley" you're talking about is not an unacanny valley. which as a concept is based on a certain amount of creepyness and revulsion inspired by something that gets too close to the familiar but not close enough.


You know, I've never really wondered too much about what "uncanny valley" really meant. I just assumed it referred to CG humans (the faces mainly) that were so close to realism but just a teeny bit unreal to our eyes, or senses. I didn't realize that "uncanny valley" also applied to other CG aspexcts like motion.
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Old 05 May 2013   #14
Originally Posted by Dillster: I didn't realize that "uncanny valley" also applied to other CG aspexcts like motion.


Well I'm sure it's debatable, but to me it can. The recent 'Audrey Hepburn' ad was a good example for me, the lighting, texturing, shading etc are all amazing and seem really lifelike to me. But there's some head motion she does around 10-12 seconds in that's nearly..but not quite.. real looking. I don't know if it was mocapped or keyframed or maybe a CG head match moved to a live actress but something in there feels robotic to me and it breaks the illusion every time I see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM

Cheers,
Brian

Last edited by Horganovski : 05 May 2013 at 07:14 PM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #15
Originally Posted by Horganovski: Well I'm sure it's debatable, but to me it can. The recent 'Audrey Hepburn' ad was a good example for me, the lighting, texturing, shading etc are all amazing and seem really lifelike to me. But there's some head motion she does around 10-12 seconds in that's nearly..but not quite.. real looking. I don't know if it was mocapped or keyframed or maybe a CG head match moved to a live actress but something in there feels robotic to me and it breaks the illusion every time I see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM

Cheers,
Brian


If you freeze the frame she still looks CG, so it's definitely not just the movement. She just looks too clean/smooth/saturated. Just looks a tiny bit off.

Not saying it's bad, it's really close, and in some shots works quite well. But definitely not convincing.
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