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View Full Version : Limitations of Motion Capture CGI with live-action


Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 08:00 PM
The main reason so many people were complaining about this movie was that they were replacing the animatronics from the previous movies with the MoCap. I adored the animatronics as well because it gave a sense of realism back in the 90s. As a kid, it felt like the Turtles were right there in front of you and, unlike the people dressed in suits at Disney World, they expressed emotion and "talked."

Of course, now that the "magic" has worn off, I can see the flaws that the suits had. The love is still there, though, but it's clear that these wouldn't have been quite as successful with todays youth. In fact, a friend of mine said that her son loves the new Nick show AND the new movie, but when she tried showing him the '90 movie, the suits scared him. *shrugs* go fig....

For me personally, MoCap can be very hit or miss. I love how it's still similar to animation, but it gives the actors a chance to really delve into their characters in both motion and interaction instead of just having them in a sound booth. Tintin is one of my favorite movies and it made sense for them to use MoCap since it's such an obscure world and characters that having them be real life would've been....well, there's a French movie that tried that awhile back and if you look it up, you'll see what I mean.

I won't get into Uncanny Valley or "dead eyes" or any of that because I thought the Turtles looked great here. I loved the details (though a bit too in your face at times), I loved how they had the actors portraying them instead of just voicing them (excluding Leo, of course). And even though the Turtles weren't THERE like they were with the suits, the actors could still act alongside Fox and Arnett and such, thus helping the interactions feel more natural during filming.

However, the one thing the suits did offer that the MoCap might not be able to is just how MUCH interaction there can be with the live actors and MoCap actors. What I mean is how much physical interaction can there be? We've seen hand holding and even that part where Leo draped his arm around Megan's shoulder, but let's just say....something a bit more romantic were to happen --

*ducks from projectile objects thrown to her head*

I'M NOT SHIPPING APRIL!!!! I want to make that perfectly clear! I still don't see why some people want her to be with Raph, anyway...

Ok, moving on. What I was saying is...well, I was sort of having ideas of what they could do for the sequel and I had this idea that they could bring in Angel Bridge from the comics, only alter her backstory. A lot.

(Hey, they turned Bernard Thompson into a black woman and (almost) made Shredder a white guy. Why not?)

Anyway, I had this idea that Angel could be a young intern working at a genetics lab that is owned by Baxter Stockman in New York. One day, she uncovers some secret plot and is captured in attempts to keep her from spilling the beans. The Turtles rescue her and Donatello sort of thinks she's cool. The two become good friends and eventually a very INNOCENT romance starts to occur.

Back to my MoCap question: Just how much interaction could you have with Angel and Jeremy Howard as he's playing Donnie? Or any of the Turtles' actors while they're doing things with the live actors? Like obviously talking and hand holding are easy enough to do in those suits, but I saw how they had cameras attached to their heads so they could record the facial expressions, so if they were to go for a kiss scene (again, a very mild one), would it be hard to film? Would they have to do like they did in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" where they would use a Roger-doll to mark the shots and have the actors grab him and move the doll when need be, then animate the rest later? Or could Angel's actress and Howard actually do a proper kiss without....breaking the equipment.

I know this is a weird question and I'm sorry if I'm causing a lot of eye rolling, but I would like to see a few more emotional interactions with these future movies instead of just punching, fighting, and screaming. I'm asking for a lot, I know, but for me TMNT always had plenty of emotion to deal with that is not easy to ignore.

Powder
09-02-2014, 08:03 PM
"The main reason so many people were complaining about this movie was that they were replacing the animatronics from the previous movies with the MoCap."

Man, you are definitely new here. :tlol:

Designs, man! That's the thing most people take issue with.

IndigoErth
09-02-2014, 08:31 PM
:lol: *cough* Ok, um.. lol

I'm sure they could probably figure out how to do that, though I imagine that would require extra work on the part of the animators and whoever. With the Turtle's features and proportions obviously different than the actors, and the headgear the actors are wearing that's in the way and would hamper getting the motion recorded if it has to be removed for such a scene... Similarly, note how that although we saw pizza, we never saw anyone take a single bite. I assume that would have to be animated separately, if they would want to have to bother with that, which this time around did not seem to be the case with anything. Might require expert actors that can act it out without a co-star to do it with, then put the separate footage together. lol

TechnoJerome
09-02-2014, 08:55 PM
Werent they able to pull it off in Avatar?

Warboss74
09-02-2014, 09:02 PM
Werent they able to pull it off in Avatar?

It was between two mo-capped actors so I'm not sure how different it would be.

Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 09:05 PM
Man, you are definitely new here. :tlol:


That obvious, huh? :tlol:

Only reason why I said that is because I saw that brought up a LOT on IMDB and YouTube. They were trolls, mainly, but that seemed to really irk them.

Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 09:07 PM
It was between two mo-capped actors so I'm not sure how different it would be.

Exactly. With two MoCap actors, they can just animate the rest. With a Mocap and a live actor, the live actor has to either limit their amount of touching with the MoCap then film separate parts with a doll or stand-in.

Pretty sure that's how it works. I'm gonna need to rematch the behind the scenes stuff again, but that seems to be common in special effects.

Shark_Blade
09-02-2014, 09:11 PM
Animatronics are outdated, and we've already have them for 3 movies (and Next Mutation).

CGI mocap is the future and it looks waay better.

Leo656
09-02-2014, 09:13 PM
That's one of my huge problems with over-reliance on CGI characters; no matter what, they can't get around that "Roger Rabbit Effect" where your eye and brain both know that the characters you're watching simply don't exist in the same space. You get to vastly expand the level of texturing and detail, yet at the same time seriously limit the amount of situations you can believably use the characters in without looking blatantly fake and "video game-y".

Just because something is "the future" doesn't mean it's better. Ideally, movies would use a mixture of CGI and practical effects to get the best possible result, but that takes too much work, so instead you push a few buttons and there ya go. When one of the biggest complaints in modern films is the overuse of CGI, or how distracting it can be when done to excess, that's proof that we Aren't There Yet.

Truth? Pretty much only people who are in love with technology insist that CGI always looks better. Fact is, most people disagree, because again, it still looks out of place and fake when it's done wrong. Not as bad as, like, 1998 levels, but most movies that overdo it still look pretty bad.

Sabacooza
09-02-2014, 09:38 PM
What would've been so wrong with blending the two like using the rubber suits but animating the faces with CG to get the ultra realistic facial expressions? That would've been interesting to see but I guess we'll never know now.

Galactus
09-02-2014, 09:40 PM
To be honest on the whole I don't think it was going the full motion capture rout that was the big issue here but rather the designs they used were aesthetically displeasing.

Just like with any cgi it will never truly look "real" but a good movie can get you to suspend your disbelief and I think that's where the movie fails. There were moments that I put the look of the turtles to the back of my mind but then I'd see something which would remind me of why those designs don't work and in those same moments it looked fake, like cgi.

I do feel the best rout for this movie to go down was the Hellboy/Where the Wild Things Are approach of having actors in suits and using cgi to animate the faces and correct for times they look rubbery. It just seemed that motion capture being the "in" thing now they went that way rather than thinking what would be best suited for the characters.

Leo656
09-02-2014, 09:51 PM
Hellboy was such a great f***ing movie. Not the least of which had to do with the fact the characters actually looked good, not like they were filmed separately and stuck over top of the reel like Colorforms.

Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 09:54 PM
Hellboy was such a great f***ing movie. Not the least of which had to do with the fact the characters actually looked good, not like they were filmed separately and stuck on top of the reel like Colorforms.

I loved those movies, too, but it takes a lot of time and money to sit through all that makeup and prosthetics to film for a few hours a day. I can see how MoCap might be easier in that regard, but can still be just as tricky (and expensive) to go with.

Also, someone mentioned earlier how they should've gone the Where the Wild Things are route and had half suits/half CGI. Also like what they did with Yoda in the new Star Wars movies. Guess we'll never know if either of those would've been better than regular MoCap.

IndigoErth
09-02-2014, 09:54 PM
Avatar also has the advantage that the models are still quite human and happens between like-characters/mocap actors.

In this case though, prob have to ensure that the bulk of the Turtle's models don't swallow up the live actor(s) in some cases, assuming the less bulky mocap actors are largely providing motion as if the skeleton of the characters rather than the full scale of them.

If they're not careful some stuff could cut right into the models. Case in point, not actor-to-Turtles but the only thing I noticed in terms of something possibly cutting through part of a model...
http://i.imgur.com/fYqrT0z.jpg
That thing on Leo's chest. If this is by chance a real object that was attached to the mocap actor - note it appears to have a black base that is directly on his chest, however it very cleanly cuts right through his armor which appears as if it's completely unaffected.

It's a quick shot so it doesn't really matter too much, but you can't have that sort of thing happen actor-to-Turtle

Leo656
09-02-2014, 10:00 PM
I loved those movies, too, but it takes a lot of time and money to sit through all that makeup and prosthetics to film for a few hours a day. I can see how MoCap might be easier in that regard, but can still be just as tricky (and expensive) to go with.

Eh, f*ck 'em, that's the job. I gotta shave my chest and cover myself in rub-on tanner just to wrestle and I don't exactly get rich doing it; it's hours of prep work for a ten-minute match (getting any color on this Irish skin is a week-long project), but that's an Acceptable Inconvenience of the job I've chosen to do. These people who make movies get paid all the money in the world to play make-believe; let 'em earn it once in a while. I have absolutely zero sympathy, none, for anyone working in movies who complains about how hard and how time-consuming it is.

I do see your point, though; I just think if it makes the final product look better, they should just man up and "suffer for their art", not go with the quickest, easiest, cheapest option.

Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 10:00 PM
Avatar also has the advantage that the models are still quite human and happens between like-characters/mocap actors.

In this case though, prob have to ensure that the bulk of the Turtle's models don't swallow up the live actor(s) in some cases, assuming the less bulky mocap actors are largely providing motion as if the skeleton of the characters rather than the full scale of them.

If they're not careful some stuff could cut right into the models. Case in point, not actor-to-Turtles but the only thing I noticed in terms of something possibly cutting through part of a model...
http://i.imgur.com/fYqrT0z.jpg
That thing on Leo's chest. If this is by chance a real object that was attached to the mocap actor - note it appears to have a black base that is directly on his chest, however it very cleanly cuts right through his armor which appears as if it's completely unaffected.

Also good point. Though I do recall seeing Jeremy Howard wearing glasses at one point while they were filming the elevator scene. Whether those were HIS glasses or just a prop to help him with minor details, like Donnie adjusting his own glasses to help the animators get the effect. Maybe there are times they give the actors MoCap props to help?

I guess the proper way to film a kiss would be the angle. Like, say if a girl kisses a Turtle on the lips, they could just film the back of her head and focus on the Turtle's expression. It wouldn't have to be a long kiss. Like a couple seconds.

Trust me, as much as I'd like to see romance with our boys, a make out type kiss would kill it for me....

Bitsy83
09-02-2014, 10:04 PM
Eh, f*ck 'em, that's the job. I gotta shave my chest and cover myself in rub-on tanner just to wrestle and I don't exactly get rich doing it; that's an Acceptable Inconvenience of the job I've chosen to do. These people who make movies get paid all the money in the world to play make-believe; let 'em earn it once in a while. I have absolutely zero sympathy, none, for anyone working in movies who complains about how hard and how time-consuming it is.

I do see your point, though; I just think if it makes the final product look better, they should just man up and "suffer for their art", not go with the quickest, easiest, cheapest option.

Ooooh kay, I don't think I made myself clear. I didn't mean to refer to the ACTORS or the makeup artists. I watch "Face Off" religiously, so I know how dedicated those people are to their craft. And Doug Jones (Abe) has done this for years and he loves it, so I know the actors going into a movie like that know what they're in for.

I was talking about the PRODUCERS. In this case, Bay. We know how addicted he is to CGI and such. I don't know how he feels about makeup and prosthetics, but seeing his past movies, I think it's obvious which he prefers.

IndigoErth
09-02-2014, 10:14 PM
Also good point. Though I do recall seeing Jeremy Howard wearing glasses at one point while they were filming the elevator scene. Whether those were HIS glasses or just a prop to help him with minor details, like Donnie adjusting his own glasses to help the animators get the effect. Maybe there are times they give the actors MoCap props to help?
Very possible, esp since they also had prop weapons to work with.


I could see them going for a smooch on the cheek as a 'thanks' like in the occasional cartoon episode - and then they have some derpy look on their face :lol: - but if the Turtle's faces are wider than the actor's that's gonna take some movie tricks.

MsMarvelDuckie
09-02-2014, 10:20 PM
What would've been so wrong with blending the two like using the rubber suits but animating the faces with CG to get the ultra realistic facial expressions? That would've been interesting to see but I guess we'll never know now.


So, basically like Jurassic Park did? That was a blend of CG and animatronics, and it worked beautifully.

Leolead
09-02-2014, 10:23 PM
I agree with Sharkblade, animatronics are outdated, and it's time to get over it and move on.

Motion capture is basically used to get those fluid human like movements, without the limitation of using actual Turtle costumes, you also get the actor's full facial expressions, so no dead eyes, no bad syncing and no fake looking skin, also with Mocap you get high quality textures, something you could never do with real costumes :lol:

Mocap is here to stay, and it's only going to get better. so either get with it or get left behind. (No offense)

Leo656
09-02-2014, 10:26 PM
Ooooh kay, I don't think I made myself clear. I didn't mean to refer to the ACTORS or the makeup artists. I watch "Face Off" religiously, so I know how dedicated those people are to their craft. And Doug Jones (Abe) has done this for years and he loves it, so I know the actors going into a movie like that know what they're in for.

I was talking about the PRODUCERS. In this case, Bay. We know how addicted he is to CGI and such. I don't know how he feels about makeup and prosthetics, but seeing his past movies, I think it's obvious which he prefers.

No, you were very clear. :) I just don't feel bad for any of 'em on either side. They all get paid tons of money to do stuff everyone wishes they could do. And all producers really do is gamble other peoples' money while forcing their own arbitrary ideas into the final product. So it's actually hard work once in a while. Ah well. Whatever makes the best possible movie in the end, I say. :)

Glados
09-03-2014, 01:33 PM
So, basically like Jurassic Park did? That was a blend of CG and animatronics, and it worked beautifully.

It sure did, but the dinosaurs didn't have to talk or emote very much, hence it was a lot easier getting the puppets to "act" appropriately. And in Hellboy - that's also been mentioned - the creatures faces are so similar to human faces in proportions that it was possible for most of the actors own main features and expressions to be used.

The turtles are a bit trickier, in the sense that their facial proportions don't match that of a regular human actor enough for that to work. (But they still are so close that we expect their mouths and other features to respond in a human'ish way) Hence why full puppet-heads were used in the 90's movie. But today's young movie goers are used to pretty fluid CGI animation, so it would not be easy to make it convincing enough today when the characters have to emote very "humanly" and convincing... Puppetry has advanced a bit, but not in very massive leaps since then. I'm 33 and I'm well aware that my own eyes are very fogged by nostalgia when it comes to old school puppetry, but I can see how it would potentially be problematic with a younger audience. Change of times and preferences.

Monte Williams
09-07-2014, 11:24 AM
Leo, I offer a hearty "huzzah!", for your points are logical and sound.

I mildly disagree with only one point, which I've bolded below:

That's one of my huge problems with over-reliance on CGI characters; no matter what, they can't get around that "Roger Rabbit Effect" where your eye and brain both know that the characters you're watching simply don't exist in the same space. You get to vastly expand the level of texturing and detail, yet at the same time seriously limit the amount of situations you can believably use the characters in without looking blatantly fake and "video game-y".


We're slowly getting there, but the reason I hated, for example, the CGI Yoda so much was because the wrinkles and shadows on his skin were stuck on the surface. It was comically unconvincing and distracting.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix covering Ray Harryhausen's career, and even at their most primitive and herky-jerky, his stop-motion models had a weight and a magic that most CGI lacks.

Candy Kappa
09-07-2014, 11:32 AM
I agree with Sharkblade, animatronics are outdated, and it's time to get over it and move on.

Motion capture is basically used to get those fluid human like movements, without the limitation of using actual Turtle costumes, you also get the actor's full facial expressions, so no dead eyes, no bad syncing and no fake looking skin, also with Mocap you get high quality textures, something you could never do with real costumes :lol:

Mocap is here to stay, and it's only going to get better. so either get with it or get left behind. (No offense)

I don't think you know what mo-cap is. Motion capture do only what the name implies. It captures motion. The models must still be HAND animated, as pure mo-cap looks like crap (just watch Beowulf and how often it falls into the uncanny valley, or the Polat Express)

And Textures comes from material maps done in the 3D programs where you model, texture and animate the cgi models, not from mo-cap.

TMNT is cooler than MOTU
09-07-2014, 12:42 PM
Animatronics are completely laughable. I mean, look at Hellboy or Pan's Labyrinth. Absolutely horrendous looking.

Warhorse
09-07-2014, 12:53 PM
Animatronics are completely laughable. I mean, look at Hellboy or Pan's Labyrinth. Absolutely horrendous looking.

Well, the Turtles in this movie aren't any better, so what's your point?

Glados
09-07-2014, 01:20 PM
Well, the Turtles in this movie aren't any better, so what's your point?

I think he was being sarcastic...

Monte Williams
09-07-2014, 01:56 PM
I think he was being sarcastic...

Man I hope so; I was gonna have to go digging for that Malcolm Reynolds I-don't-have-the-words GIF...

Warhorse
09-07-2014, 02:05 PM
I think he was being sarcastic...

Well, you know that saying about relaying sarcasm on the internet.

Candy Kappa
09-07-2014, 02:09 PM
If the PD Turtles had a shred of great design like Hellboy and Pan's I'd be ecstatic.

Monte Williams
09-07-2014, 02:17 PM
If the PD Turtles had a shred of great design like Hellboy and Pan's I'd be ecstatic.

You and me both, although again I have warmed up to Donatello's design.

ScrewtheMirageTMNT
09-07-2014, 05:06 PM
I don't know why an animatronic was used for the scene in the terminator that looked bad, they could have taken and should have taken the prosthetic path.

TMNT is cooler than MOTU
09-07-2014, 10:30 PM
I think he was being sarcastic...

Truth.:D:D:D

Commenter 42
09-08-2014, 05:30 AM
I don't know why an animatronic was used for the scene in the terminator that looked bad, they could have taken and should have taken the prosthetic path.

What?

Lol. This thread is awesome.

Cgi mumbo-jumbo,"shipping", James Cameron, and colorforms.

I love the drome.

I love colorforms.
Hellboy was such a great f***ing movie. Not the least of which had to do with the fact the characters actually looked good, not like they were filmed separately and stuck over top of the reel like Colorforms.

Somewhere there is a Colorform of the Technodrome. There must be. I must have it.

Sumac
09-08-2014, 05:07 PM
CGI is a future. However, best result can be achived by combining CGI and make-up and practical effects.

"Suffering for the art" is not a good idea. Not everyone ready to do this. And it doesn't make them lesser human beings.

Commenter 42
09-08-2014, 06:29 PM
Amazed at all the VFX experts here. :lol: