Animators unite against SF Chronicle


Mr. Mick Lasalle, film critic from San Francisco Chronicle has published a shameless review on the film Monster House in which he’s literaly mocked traditional animation and keyframe animation comparing it to motion-capture,

“…There was never any point to a close-up in an animated film – there was never really anything to see. But with the motion-capture process, real actors give their performances with computer sensors attached to their face and body, and that recorded information becomes the template for the computer animation.”


“…Imagine what Disney might have done with this in the creation of the Seven Dwarfs. Imagine all the things that will be done with this in the future. “Monster House” looks like the ground floor of something important.”

you can find the review at this link

As Amid Amidi writes in there’s one thing to praise a new technology for it’s achievements but it’s another thing to ignorantly belittle 100 years of animation and all the masters who have devoted their life to making animated films that we all love and grew up with.

There’s already been a huge wave of response from the industry professional, but if you feel like me and if you think Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and the nine old men’s work shouldn’t openly get belittled and dismissed like this, maybe you’d like to email this guy or SF Chronicle and let them know what you think.

Jenny Lerew, storyboard artist, dreamworks, writes in response to Mr. Lasalle review:

Thad Komorowsk’s response to Mr. Lasalle:

Get more of Mr. Lasalle’s amazing reviews at:

*Edit: more response to Mr. Lasalle review at:

**Edit: Jaime J. Weinman response to Mick Lasalle:

***Edit: Jeff Pidgeon, Story Artist, Pixar, writes in response to the above mentioned review:

**** Edit: Jeff Pidgeon writes to Mick Lasalle about his review:


damn - has he ever seen any facial expressions on the Seven Dwarves not o mention my fav character as far as facial animation’s concerned - the Coyote from WB?! Honestly! 0_o


Everytime I see the trailer for Monster House i think how cool it would have looked if it was keyframed by hand instead of mocap. People outside of animation don’t seem to care though, my family can’t tell the difference. This guy seems to be the same way.


what a moron


Bay area movie reviewers are morons. The guardian and the chronicle are no different.


“…There was never any point to a close-up in an animated film – there was never really anything to see. But with the motion-capture process, real actors give their performances with computer sensors attached to their face and body, and that recorded information becomes the template for the computer animation.”

An uninformed, pompous windbag of a journalist? Whatever next?

This guy’s ignorance is literally staggering.


A.O. Scott, New York Times- It also represents, to the technology nerds in the audience, an interesting refinement of animation techniques. Like Robert Zemechis’s “Polar Express,” “Monster House” (for which Mr. Zemeckis served as an executive producer) uses the digitally captured movements of real actors rather than computer-generated algorithms as the basis for its animated images.
So character animation without motion capture comes from “computer-generated algorithms”? I guess A.O. Scott doesn’t think much of animators… :sad:

Scott Bowles, USA Today- Using the same stop-motion animation featured in The Polar Express, Monster fills the void of films such as Cars and Finding Nemo. Pixar’s otherwise wonderful movies tend to shortchange one subject: humans.
Maybe the USA Today just isn’t edited carefully, and that was a typo when he said it was a stop-motion film. (Or does Scott Bowles really not know stop-motion animation from CG???) But still, why does he say Pixar shortchanges human subjects, then skip Incredibles in his list of recent Pixar films?



It doesn’t appear that he’s done any research for this article.
Today’s media “reporting” leaves much to be desired. Their doesn’t seem to be any balanced reporting in any media these days.



What’s even more irritating is that I emailed this guy and told him that his review has no ground and that he should at least try to research about what he’s going to write. told him that his review has made a lot of us animators really angry because the animation industry is really like a big family of some sort and gave him links to disney and pixar films that had so many amazing human close up acting shots which could rival any live action actor,

you know what he replied,

said he couldn’t care less about how we feel about his review.


You know, I totally understand where you all are coming from, and I don’t necessarily agree with his opinions on animation… but overall, and as a longtime SFChronicle subscriber, I have to say that I really like Mick LaSalle’s reviews. They’re always a good read, and he really comes at his reviews for a thoughtful perspective. Okay, so animation is certainly not necesarily his forte. In general, I don’t always agree with most of his opinions on genre films, which is likely why the Chron has been assigning most of them the Peter Hartlaub (who also writes the game review column.)

Look, so the guy doesn’t know as much about animation as all of you who do it for a living and are devoted fanatics… Is it really his job to research the history of animation before writing one review? I hear some of you clamoring ‘Yes,’ but the guy’s got tons of movies to review, and doesn’t really need to cater to a small niche market of fans. We all know the difference between motion capture and hand-animation and stop motion and cel-based, but do most Americans? Why should he care about your opinion? When it comes down to it (as LaSalle himself pointed out in 2 weeks ago’s Sunday’s pink section) a review is just one person’s opinion. It’s no guarantee that you will or won’t like a film, it’s just his own personal thoughts that may or may not offer you some insight into a possible path to enjoying a film. Or not. Your mileage may vary.

In short, go hound your own local movie reviewer. Don’t be so quick to take every iota of ignorance about your trade as an intentional slap in the face.



Kind of reminds me when some local movie reviewer praised cats and dogs perfromance in some movie (i forgot the name, there was a lot of cats talking) when in reality 99% of the scenes were some sort of CG/composite tricks (cat’s faces were replaced). He even wondered how they taught cats to make such great facial expressions and phonemes.

Anyway, it’s usual mocap vs keyframed debate. I think that animators should be confident enough (especially with such strong evidence presented in Komorowski blog, which every animator on the earth knows and loves) to take reviews with grain of salt. The shots speak for itself.


I couldn’t care less about his review.
I don’t got time to crusade against every idiot that opens his mouth about something he has no knowledge of.


Yes, that is exactly his job.

A reporter get his facts straight and does whatever research is necessary to validate his facts.
The problem with that article is that he does very little reviewing of the film. In fact, he dismisses it entirely as being unimportant.
The article focuses instead on part of the technology behind the film and off-handedly belittles the work of traditional animation as well as current CG animated films.
So, no, he wouldn’t have to justify his opinions on the film, but yes he should care and should justify his remarks concerning the animation methods and techniques which he writes about in the artcile.



I could almost forgive this review if he didn’t mention a previous work. It seems the man’s only exposure to animation has been either the quickly done Nicktoons, the Flash based Adult Swim titles, or vague memories from his childhood. Truth be told, I want to see Monster House but I have seen much better expression in animation from even the low budget series like Animaniacs (which is out on DVD, so why don’t you own it yet?). Then again, I’ve always been a big fan of squash and stretch and sadly, it seems Dreamworks is trying their best to defy very basic principles of animation. Which is probably why this asshat loved it so much.


I agree with you 100%!

Mick LaSalle writes his reviews like he constipated or something.

The Guardian/SF Weekley reviewers are more interested in writing literary pieces than informing the public. I swear, I have to use a dictionary to look up every obscure word in those movie reviews.

The absolute worst critic is that woman with the big Hat on channel 4. She always gives a positive review to chick flicks and a negative review to any guy flicks. If a movie has any whiff of testosterone, it gets a thumbs down! Talk about bias!

Just remember folks, the following works of art were trashed by critics: Bizet’s Carmen, Every Led Zepelin album before Physical Graffiti, Blade Runner, the list goes on and on!


Does this ass even know Snow White was rotoscoped in combination with hand animation? Guess he doesnt know about lasseters classic 'Man in a chicken suite" statement either.


Yeah, Mick LaSalle is probally the worst movie critic in the Bay Area. If I had to guess I would say he reviews movies by watching trailers, spends 10 minutes writing an article (and 5 of it is spent looking up some 10 cent word to incorrectly use in it).

I’m sure it’s a pretty sweet gig for this moron.



He doesn’t need to do any research to realize he just put down years and years of animation and the techniques used to make it. Not to mention insulting most animated films today and their animators.

He can say he likes the mocap look better, but he shouldn’t say it is better, and will replace key frame. This is just as annoying as when people say 3d will replace 2d or other tpyes of animation…


I think you are confusing two subjects here, one is about writing a review, the other is about insulting the hard work of so many artists.

This guy or any other person can write a review about anything, as far as I’m concerned, AS LONG AS he only writes his own views, his own personal point of view on the subject, he liked the film becasue of this and that or he didn’t like it becasue of so and so, get it? but once he crosses the line and starts to make unthoughtful remarks about the quality of not just the movie he’s talking about BUT about the whole animation industry, he’s better get the facts right.

You are claiming that most americans don’t know the difference between hand drawn, stop mo, mo cap, well, they don’t know a lot about animation in general, and that’s EXACTLY why these kind of reviews shouldn’t be published, becasue Mr. Jack and Mss. Jill who knows about animation as much as I know about space walking, reads this review and thinks it’s all based on facts and forms his or her opinion based on something that is completely false.

Okay, so you’re saying beacsue the animation market fan is so small (which in reality is not) this guy can go ahead and make things up and present them as facts? That’s a NEW lesson for journalism! Hey, guys if you’re writing about something which doesn’t have a huge audience, don’t watse your time researching for facts, just make them up as you go, we understand that you’re probably too lazy…i mean…busy to do it anyway and we’ll accept anything you write as facts, don’t worry, we’re not that smart anyway.


Well, just to play devil’s advocate here…a lot of people do think that computer animation is more sophisticated and capable than 2D animation. I think they perceive computer animation to be tied to modern technology and as technology improves, they assume the animation results can only improve too, and that goes for the character’s performance as well.

Also tied to this perception is the idea that more detail in a character design equals more subtle and lifelike expressions because it brings the appearance of characters closer to real life. Yes, I know how wrong this is - but you can see why people would perceive things this way.

And let’s be honest, most people don’t remember subtle moments in animation, they remember the broad, frenetic or slapstick moments - the exaggerated moments. And why do they remember this? Because a lot of animated characters are often painted in broad strokes. For example, even Hayao Miyazaki has said in past interviews that he dislikes the exaggerated theatrical overacting in Disney films.

Here’s what Steve Jobs wrote in 1998 in a letter to Pixars shareholders. You can read the full letter here: (the emphasis in the quote below is mine)

A Bug’s Life has over a dozen major characters, compared to less than half that many in Toy Story, and each one of them is far more complex than Toy Story’s most complex characters, Woody and Buzz. It was truly a task of epic proportions for our story, art and modeling teams to create all of these wonderful characters. The computer models for these characters are the most sophisticated we have ever built, and incorporate our new “subdivision surface” technology (which we developed to created Geri’s Game). In the hands of our talented animators, the result is far more subtle and lifelike expressions than ever before possible in animation.

Clearly, someone else thinks computer animation also holds the promise to supercede what’s gone before. (Yes, I know it’s a letter to shareholders from 1998, but I doubt his opinion has changed)