Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Every Tiny Detail

Good God.

This is one of the best CGI images I have *ever* seen.

The only downside I can see is the over-texturing on the skin - it looks a tiny bit too shiny, and a bit too textured; you'd be likely to take it in as a waxwork rather than a photo of a person.

There was a moment - a tipping point, I suppose, in trendy new parlance - a couple of years ago when an all-cgi image fooled me. I definately get fooled by CGI inserts in live action all the time - it's moreorless seamless in films these days. But when you're, say, playing a game, or watching something you're conscious is all computer generated, you're less likely to suspend disbelief.

There were amazing bits in Final Fantasy, but it still had the problem of the complete lack of 'heft' - none of the characters had bulk, or weight, or momentum. I spent a lot of time in art college studying human anatomy, makind drawings of people in movement, so I tend to spot when bodies aren't moving right, or are slack, or badly articulated. The most difficult thing seems to be to make figures look like they're standing - that their feet are in contact with the ground, and are bearing their weight. Look out for it - few animators bother to make feet articulate much.

Digressions aside - the point at which my brain finally got 'tripped up' was in Monsters Inc. Yes, I know it's a film about imagainary creatures. But there was a scene when the big furry one was stuck in a snowstorm, with the wind blowing through his fur, on his arm. And I caught myself processing the character as a Muppet - a real, big furry puppet. Then went... wow, that's some good fur animation to make me think that.

How long, then, until someone thinks to give animators lessons in the Alexander Technique, or Ballet, or similar, to give them enough physical awareness to create the full illusion of a live person?


Phil Gyford said...

What makes you think animators aren't already doing such physical real world stuff? I only know clay animators, rather than CGI, but I know they spend time doing physical movement, sometimes with actors, to get to grips with how their characters should move.

You're right about the waxy face - the colours are perhaps a bit too uniform there, as well as the texture being not quite right. One of the things that makes it for me is the depth of field - somehow it makes the figure leap forward out of the frame, when bits of him are going blurry.

kim said...

You're right, that was a bit of a sweeping statement.

Still - puppeteers spend a lot of time physicially inhabiting their characters - I think that the more divorced way of working with CGI breaks that physical link to the movements you're creating. The point is not to use actors to motion capture, but to have better physical awareness yourself, as an animator.

The weight and heft thing I think is probably a current tech limit - but that will change with time.