Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Replace the Animator?

I just read an interesting entry from Keith Lango's blog. It's dealing with the 'controversy' that arose surrounding the movie Avatar, which is being directed by James Cameron. Someone on the production said,

"Our goal on this movie was not to replace the actor, it was to replace the animator. If you think about it, what a great actor does and what a great animator does are antithetical to one another. "A great actor withholds information. Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men can sit there and do nothing. No animator would ever allow that, they would put in a twitch. So our objective was to preserve Sam Worthington's performance and have that be what you see in those characters."

Keith Lango had an interesting take on it saying, "I eagerly await the day when mo-cap technology gets so good that animators won't be stuck wiping the poo from the data or twiddling the performance because the director can't keep his hands off it and trust his actors." Which is completely contrary to the initial response many animators are having. (Reminds me a lot of some comments made before Polar Express came out.) He goes on to further emphasize the difference between the intent and purposes of live action (mo-cap) and animation. Its an interesting view, and some points he makes I've never really considered myself. Though, I think I must agree with him. Actors and animators each have their role. I highly encourage the read.

This still plays out a little differently in the gaming industry I think. Here, we're focused more on motion and believability than performance, unless we're animating through a cut scene. I think animators will always be needed to push actions further and tweak things to make the inhumanly possible, which is why games are fun anyway. Take Drake's Fortune as an example. They used mocap, but adjusted the timing and poses to push things further and create the experience they were looking for. Besides that, some things simply can not be captured by a person in a suit. That is where animation, and animators, will always be a necessity.

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