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  05 May 2013
There's an interesting concept Keith Lango called 'visual harmony'.
http://keithlango.blogspot.ie/2009/...al-harmony.html

To me this seems true, as The Jaco said above, with stylized characters you can have stylized motion and it will look right as the look and motion are well matched to each other. As the creatures/characters get more realistic generally the motion has to get more realistic too, even more so with human characters as we all have a built-in library of how people move in real life and if we see something that looks like a real human but doesn't move quite like a real human then the illusion is broken, just as if something moves like a human but doesn't quite look like one.

Cheers,
Brian
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by Dillster: I didn't realize that "uncanny valley" also applied to other CG aspexcts like motion.


The uncanny valley actually is ENTIRELY motion, and it was originally coined to discuss human-looking robots, because motion is what most of our cues are to when someone is sick or injured or other things body language and facial movement can indicate.

There have been far more CG characters and humans that look good in a still, but as soon as they move, it's all over.

The valley in question is actually a sharp drop off in our response when something gets closer to realistically looking like a human, but is still wrong. It sets off our mental alarms far worse than something that is either completely realistic or more obviously unrealistic.
 
  05 May 2013
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


Agreed, superficially on the surface it looks authentic and it's an impressive display of technique. But it's cgi that aims to draw attention to itself as 'realistic' and so is doomed to fail. There's much that's 'dislocated' about this. The eyes are dead, the skin looks waxy and nuances of expression have an almost imperceptible time lag just odd and ever so slightly creepy enough to induce unintentional humour when the guy (assuming he's not CG) takes an interest in her. Personally I much prefer cgi that doesn't try to imitate nature and goes in the opposite direction, like most of the great Pixar movies.

Last edited by bobakabob : 05 May 2013 at 08:49 PM.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by axiomatic: You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

I have it on good authority you can, actually. You'd be amazed at the amount of time and the refinement of the process the VFX industry has been evolving for years of polishing someone else's turds to the finest shine.
The problem is that even when it becomes chrome level reflective, you can still smell it for what it is

We only roll it in glitter when the money runs out, and that's mostly the poor compers job.
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  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: 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.


What's funny is that the way I look at it is more like... in reality it's all the SAME method... Particularly if one looks at Blue Sky's method where you do have a lot of Video Referencing, at the low cost MoCap level the devices used are comparable and you end up trying the same or similar Video Referencing.

The data is processed differently mainly in the immediate step after... in the Blue Sky method the animator is the one digesting 3 or 4 different takes and studies what he wants and moves on like a "filtering" process, whereas with mocap systems you try and generate your frames automatically and maybe tweak them later.

The objective is similar, but I feel it's like a "Car and Driver" process.... The animator(s) you put in the driver seat either in a VideoRef/Keyframing process or in a Mocap process matters. Some animators are more comfortable with keys they made themselves than trying to deal with keys made by another process.

Out of curiosity, what kinds of mocap systems were you referring to that did not require clean-up? Obviously at our level there's just Kinect and some others, I've heard horror stories in particular using the Kinect system but I know of course that doesn't represent the mocap systems at your level or the ones you refer to.

I've heard problems with commercial-level systems but, like the above analogy - I don't know if it's the "Car" or it's the "Driver".
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  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: What's funny is that the way I look at it is more like... in reality it's all the SAME method... Particularly if one looks at Blue Sky's method where you do have a lot of Video Referencing, at the low cost MoCap level the devices used are comparable and you end up trying the same or similar Video Referencing.

The data is processed differently mainly in the immediate step after... in the Blue Sky method the animator is the one digesting 3 or 4 different takes and studies what he wants and moves on like a "filtering" process, whereas with mocap systems you try and generate your frames automatically and maybe tweak them later.

The objective is similar, but I feel it's like a "Car and Driver" process.... The animator(s) you put in the driver seat either in a VideoRef/Keyframing process or in a Mocap process matters. Some animators are more comfortable with keys they made themselves than trying to deal with keys made by another process.

I feel you are over-rationalizing some things, and over simplifying others.
Every animator worth their salt uses tremendous amounts of reference, even for things anatomically completely unrelated.

Every animation studio has a recording room and/or webcams and gear for people to record themselves acting things out.

That is on top of the takes you get from the dubbing (if available) and other such things where and when you might be asked to let the actor's take transpire in the performance, or at least use it for inspiration.

That is about the beat, but it will not get you the (good) noise or the momentum and weight carrying you could inherit from mocap instead.

It's not a replacement for mocap, nor it's replaced by mocap when you have it available.

Quote: Out of curiosity, what kinds of mocap systems were you referring to that did not require clean-up? Obviously at our level there's just Kinect and some others, I've heard horror stories in particular using the Kinect system but I know of course that doesn't represent the mocap systems at your level or the ones you refer to.

I've heard problems with commercial-level systems but, like the above analogy - I don't know if it's the "Car" or it's the "Driver".

I honestly wouldn't consider kinect a mocap system, not a production ready one.
You can get something off it, sure, but the sampling noise you get from one completely obscures the actual motion noise, so at best you can get a coarse timing breakdown, something you might as well get from footage. Maybe some reference for step separation, MAYBE.

The systems I'm talking about have dozens of camera, are run on proper suites, have additional witness cameras, and push the motion through a rig in real time to display the capture on the target rig as it's being directed on stage.

I've had a great experience with a mocap house on Sucker Punch actually, but they haven't listed it in their projects, so I don't think I can disclose.

As for what problems you might have heard of, I don't know, but as far as the technicalities go, mocap has come a million miles from what you used to get (at best some 3D reference) a few years ago.

These days you get pristine motion sampled from all angles with perfect de-interference passes that make sure no marker is polluted across views, they run signal processing on the curves well attuned to actual motion that mean you don't get sampling noise (the cameras having a ridiculous resolution compared to a few years ago also greatly improved that), but you preserve the nice noise. You get to see the take on deforming geometry and a transform rig you provide during the takes, mapped in real time.

Even remapping across fairly different configured creatures can be tweaked in real time, or after the fact, as you go through the takes so you can re-direct the actors based on that and get takes that actually make sense on your different-than-human creature.

Foot slipping, jerky knees, markers jumping, cross signal or sampling issues that forced the facilities to over clean are all gone thanks to cheaper (therefore more) and better (therefore better source signal) cameras and way better software and signal processing, not to mention the power of the workstations these days allowing to view and tweak as you shoot, instead of waiting for the data and praying to Gods and men and FSM that you could use it and it was a good shoot.

It used to be for crowds you had to spend ages animating cycles or cleaning the mocap. These days you can book a couple days on a stage with two or three stunties and leave with hundreds of useful takes that will only take cataloguing and conforming for 90% of the cases.

The myth that mocap can't be used right away has to go, it hasn't been the case for years. Of course it doesn't mean you don't need animators, directing dudes in a spandex suit with ping pong balls strapped to their crotch only gets you so far, but once upon a time mocap was -always- some crap you had to clean up to death and then work back into something meaningful. The data you get these days is not like that.
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Last edited by ThE_JacO : 05 May 2013 at 12:16 AM.
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: I feel you are over-rationalizing some things, and over simplifying others.
Every animator worth their salt uses tremendous amounts of reference, even for things anatomically completely unrelated.


Yes, I been known to do that. But that's why I never get tired of asking questions.

Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: It's not a replacement for mocap, nor it's replaced by mocap when you have it available.


Yes. This was the point I was making when I meant the two were essentially the same or that the choice to do one or the other is stylistic. I think maybe saying they are "the same" is wrong.. especially at the level you are mentioning with dozens of high resolution cameras.

For people using webcams or kinect or eye toy as "capture devices" then you might understand more why it just "feels the same" because the capture is from only one, two, or at most three points.

Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: I honestly wouldn't consider kinect a mocap system, not a production ready one.
You can get something off it, sure, but the sampling noise you get from one completely obscures the actual motion noise, so at best you can get a coarse timing breakdown, something you might as well get from footage. Maybe some reference for step separation, MAYBE.


This, and the fact that advice I got regarding mocap systems was from years ago, explains the gulf in knowledge I am in. For those of us at this level (for now) those Dozen High Resolution Camera setups you mentioned might as well not exist.

But that's why I ask.. so that I know where the industry is now - to round out my perspective.

I also kinda figured out the same thing regarding Kinect so we're not going in that direction.
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  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: For people using webcams or kinect or eye toy as "capture devices" then you might understand more why it just "feels the same" because the capture is from only one, two, or at most three points.

For those of us at this level (for now) those Dozen High Resolution Camera setups you mentioned might as well not exist.

Well, in the context of the thread, which was asking about facilities of the financial caliber of DW, mocap has to be assumed to be of a certain quality.

But even outside that context, in the super-indie, no cash kind of realm you were treading with your previous short, sure, your means might be limited in terms of you having access to the process. Just one step up, where you have a handful of cash (say a few grands), then suddenly renting one of those stages for a day becomes an option.

It's also important to make a distinction here between data and facility.

Take away the stage direction aspect, which implies having the money to set up one, or at least rent the service for a day, and it's still worth pointing out that mocap these days CAN BE extremely clean, and since it's distributed, for free or money, pre-canned, you can expect there to be SOME good sources out there with none, or very few, of the problems you anticipated.
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  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Well, in the context of the thread, which was asking about facilities of the financial caliber of DW, mocap has to be assumed to be of a certain quality.

But even outside that context, in the super-indie, no cash kind of realm you were treading with your previous short, sure, your means might be limited in terms of you having access to the process. Just one step up, where you have a handful of cash (say a few grands), then suddenly renting one of those stages for a day becomes an option.

It's also important to make a distinction here between data and facility.

Take away the stage direction aspect, which implies having the money to set up one, or at least rent the service for a day, and it's still worth pointing out that mocap these days CAN BE extremely clean, and since it's distributed, for free or money, pre-canned, you can expect there to be SOME good sources out there with none, or very few, of the problems you anticipated.


Yes those are good points.

I think my TD's would be upset if I proposed downloading cleaned-up motion files though... But that's a different story!
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  05 May 2013
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