I had no real plans to ever watch the new Robocop remake. I was plenty happy with the original and nothing I was reading or hearing about the new one brought any interest to me. When I finally saw the trailer, I was a bit saddened. The casting looked pretty good. Unfortunately, everything else I saw sealed my commitment to never see it. The rang especially true when I saw the Robocop digital double hopping around like Spider-Man.
The digital double work in the Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man movies looked great, and it worked largely BECAUSE it was Spider-Man. Unfortunately, so many movies try to copy this look and style and it just doesn’t fly. In fact, considering how old the Spider-Man movies are now, I am starting to think that digital double work is just getting worse and worse as time goes on.
Movies like Spider-Man 2, The Matrix: Reloaded and Blade II (not counting two shots which shall not be named) have some of the best digital double work ever done. Granted, in the Matrix, some shots are marred by improper cloth dynamics on Neo’s coat, but the Agent Smith and Trinity doubles are damn near perfect. In Blade II and Spidey 2 they even got the trench coats done well. These films are OLD in tech years (those are kind of like dog years). Yet, a modern, huge budget film like Man of Steel has horrible digital double work, nearly all of which comes across like the two shots which shall not be named in Blade II.
I was recently watching Spider-Man 3, a movie I have seen countless times, and I am still finding digital double shots I hadn’t noticed before. There is no such luck with Man of Steel, World War Z, The Hobbit and a couple of other recent movies. The doubles stand out, in a video game style, on first viewing. Actually, some of the E3 2013 trailers have better character work.
One of the best digital double shots ever done is in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Legolas jumps onto a horse. I watch that shot over and over and over and I STILL can’t see it. The only give away is in the DVD extra features when they show the wireframes. Sadly, the new Hobbit movies don’t stand up nearly as well on the “invisibility” of their digital doubles.
Considering the budgets of some of these recent films, I am more than willing to chalk this up to studios underbidding or outrageous production schedules. We all know the technology exists to make digital doubles perfect today. The galleries in places like this or Zbrush Central show that. Also not all recent movies fit the pattern. The Avengers has flawless digital double work. This means there is another factor that is causing the digital double work in a host of recent films to fall apart. Either way, I am happily awaiting the day when I watch a VFX heavy movie and, only on the tenth viewing, catch a digital double shot.