Friday, November 09, 2007

Thoughts on Beowulf

Okay so I read this article on Animation Magazine .com and heres a short quote.

Beowulf is a very good film. Even my wife, who is not so much an animation fan, really enjoyed it. In addition to offering a great story and compelling characters, the movie represents something that we really need right now. It’s an animated movie for adults, and it’s opening in wide release in the United States. This is huge, folks. If the film does well, it could open all kinds of doors. Studio execs who only see dollar signs in cuddly critters making broad jokes to pop-music soundtracks will wake up and realize that audiences want to see different kinds of stories told with digital technology. For moviegoers who don’t normally attend animated films, Beowulf could also be the perfect vehicle for easing them into the fold. They won’t be jarred by something that is too far removed from live-action, and they won’t be embarrassed to show up without a kid. Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille and 20th Century Fox’s The Simpsons recently laid a bit of groundwork in this area by stepping outside the family film box and capturing the imagination of grown-ups, perhaps even more than the small children they brought with them or, more importantly, didn’t bring with them.

The general public doesn’t care if something is mo-capped or key-framed, they just want to be entertained. So the fear that performance-capture movies will become the new standard is mostly unfounded. True, studios will largely favor their economic model, but the money they save by not hiring a room full of animators will be largely offset by the expensive stars they tap to perform the roles. Besides, the big key-frame studios aren’t going anywhere. Imagine the possibilities if Pixar suddenly felt free to create a PG-13 fantasy, action or horror flick. What if DreamWorks Animation believed they could make money by creating a CG graphic novel adaptation along the lines of Sin City or 300?

I can't help but respond

This film may be good for pushing the idea that 3D technology is not just limited to kiddy stories about talking animals and such, but its not going to be good for the animators as they are pushed more and more out of the process. This sort of motion capture ,Yes, requires animators to sit at a desk tweaking the movement and streamlining the performance, but it knocks the importance of the animator down. All the decisions on what the character does, oh he/she emotes, performs, its all up to the actor and director.
So I have to ask what's the point of translating the actor's to 3D in the first place? If its to achieve a stylized look, why not use a process like 300 or Sky Captain. I mean if the idea is to capture to realistic movements of actors, and even match the 3D models to look like the actors, why not just film the actors and leave it at that? You animate a story because you want to show something that isn't real, come to life, and that's what hand drawn, puppeteers, stop motion and 3D animated films do. Mo-caping an entire 3D movie like this seem like an extra process that's unnecessary. All it does is lessen the need for the craft that animators spend their lives learning to perfect. Animation is going to be reduced to a skill that is open to people who will only have to sit at screen and push a mouse around and follow directions. So no I can't see this being very good for animation.

And one more thing, common, Just because its presented in 3D does not mean its animated!!!

Any thoughts on this?
Lewis Black does


Blogger BrianMORANTE said...

I was skeptical but was impressed with Beowulf as a movie. I guess im with you though. I dont understand the need for mo-cap. Its weird looking in every movie ive seen it in, except when its just 1 character like king kong or gollum. I guess I dont understand putting so much effort into making something look really real and then making it move really real for animation. Even monster house looked odd because of the stylized character designs and the realistic movements. Dont get me started on happy feet.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Odon said...

I agree with you saying "Just because its presented in 3D does not mean its animated!!!" This is a different animal. I don't think a movie like this compares with or competes with a Pixar flick. So unlike 3D in general taking away from 2D animators, I think this kind of movie will have little impact on the current state of animation. Or on animators, but I'm not working in the industry and I could be completely wrong.

I see mo-crap as moving closer to the possibility of smaller and smaller groups being able to make movies. Wouldn't it be great if you and 5 friends could make a fantasy movie? Or at least weekly/monthly web episodes or something. Books are easy to write but not easy to write well. Everyone has video cameras these days but movies haven't suffered. So maybe mo-cap will just be one more tool for us fantasy/sci-fi nerds. Of course if it gets real easy and cheap then the 'market' will be flooded with crap. I use quotes because I don't think the majority of it will ever get to the market. It'll be like youtube but with aminated crap. Lots of alien or elf/troll porn.

9:03 AM  

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