Orignally posted: Monday, 16 October 2006

Ah, I love it when articles come out touting the awesomeness of new technology and get the facts so wonky that it makes it seem like anything would be possible, if it weren’t for those darn pesky artists!

The New York Times has a new article about Image Metrics, a software company that has figured out a way to make facial motion capture a thing of the past.. they’ve got some crazy 2d image mapping technology which actually captures the SOUL of the actor, not just points on the face.

You can read the article here .

Now I’ve never seen the software work, so I can’t give a “yay” or “nay” either for nor against it.. but I can look at quotes like this:

In a C.G.I. film, he said, “every time someone would say something, banks of people would have to figure out how the lips move, how the eyes move — and it’s not even that good.”

“Now we don’t have to spend three years having people meticulously hand-animate Charlie Sheen’s lines,” he added. “He says, ‘Food fight!’ in real time, live action, and it’s applied, via Image Metrics technology, to the character.”

So whereas a film like “Cars” cost $120 million and took dozens of animators five years to make, Mr. Kasanoff says that “Foodfight!,” which has not yet begun production, will be finished by February.

.. and immediately assume that either the author of the article mis-quoted Kasanoff, or that he really doesn’t understand what it takes to actually create an animated motion picture film.

First of all.. I’m not even going to dignify comments like “banks of people would have to figure out how the lips move, how the eyes move — and it’s not even that good.” with a statement other than “if you hired people who WERE good, then it WOULD be good.”

If you want quality, hire quality.  You’re not going to hire jim-bob-jimmy-hossenfifer to have a major role in a feature film if he can’t act.. why hire crappy animators who can’t act and then be suprised when the work is sub-par?

Second, facial animation is NOT the most time-consuming part of an animated film.  What about art? story?  Layout? Modeling? Rigging? Texturing? Lighting? Rendering?  Effects? Compositing?  Sound? Editing??

Or can we blame the cost of CG movies and the time it takes soley on the animators?

I highly doubt that a film like “Foodfight!” will finish by Feb if it hasn’t begun production yet.

And if it does.. I highly doubt that it will make the money back that it claims it saved by getting rid of a few animators.

BESIDES the fact that you’re immediately going to run into problems when the director decides they want a different “take” on the line than what the actor performed.. which they inevitably do.  What happens then?  Do you get someone else in to act it out?  What if their performance isn’t right?  What if the actor isn’t available?

Sigh.

EDIT: This post was originally written in 2006. It’s now 2009.. I heard that the movie was completed in 2008.. looking forward to seeing it!

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