Friday, January 13, 2012

Acting and Animation

Acting and Animation

There has been debate and discussion lately regarding if motion capture is pure acting.
Here are a couple of latest links to check out:

James Franco requests recognition for Andy Serkis work on RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Here's the URL if it doesn't work: http://www.deadline.com/2012/01/oscar-exclusive-james-franco-on-why-andy-serkis-deserves-credit-from-actors/

Then, what the Weta effects team did was to essentially “paint” the look of Caesar over Andy’s performance.  This is not animation as much as it’s digital  “make-up.” 

And here’s one of the responses. Be sure to check out the links to the videos by Andy Serkis and Jeffrey Engle


I’ll try to clarify a few things if I may.

Both acting and animation are very difficult to do well and require talent and artistry. Some people try to define the specifics of each one but at the end of the day they are both used to bring life to a narrative character. Whether it’s a live action person or an animated person/animal/object on screen, the audience should be able to relate to the character in some way and be provided some emotion connection.

Acting-
Acting is one of those jobs that looks very easy to those who don’t do it.
Having worked with actors, directed actors and taken both acting and improv classes, I can say with confidence it is very difficult to do well. An actor has to act and react as the character they are supposed to portray. They have to be able to become one with the character. When in that zone the actor is in the moment and the fictional world becomes their world. An actor has to put themselves out there for all to watch and that can make them feel very vulnerable. Actors are not allowed to analyze or observe their performance since that takes them out of the moment. They have to make it look effortless and to feel completely natural even though they are saying written dialog and may be doing the shot multiple times. Subtle facial expressions and body language convey more than the spoken dialog.  Casting of actors for a film is very important since different actors will bring a different take on a character.

Animation-
Animators are frequently given a bit of a brush off from the rest of the entertainment community. Much of what’s animated is aimed at children or young adults so can’t be serious according to some. But take a close look at many animation classics, even for children, and great animation does reverberate emotionally in the viewer. Look at Dumbo, Pinocchio and other Disney classics. Warner Brothers and other studios also brought engaging animated characters to life. These days Pixar and similar 3D animation studios are accomplishing the same thing.

Animators on visual effects projects must achieve a level of realism beyond what happens in most animated films. One’s not better than the other but there are differences. A visual effects animator may have to animate a horse or other animal and make them totally believable as the animal they are supposed to portray. In many cases the animation may be intercut with the footage of the real animal so the match in motion has to be spot on. Visual effects animators may also be called on to animate fantasy creatures or talking, breathing characters.

A true test for a character animator is to animate a simple flour sack drawing or model. Even without a body or face an animator can bring life to the flour sack in such a way to convey happiness, sadness, curiosity and other emotions.

Even though the term may be computer animation an actual artist is the one that does the animation. The computer is just the tool as a pencil was to pre-computer animators. Casting the right animator can be as important as casting the right actor.

Puppets
When I worked at ILM some of the modelers were also puppeteers. As puppeteers they were also in SAG since the actions of a puppet was acting. So when we did leaping laser printers or other things that required puppeting, that was under SAG agreements. I’m assuming the Muppets and any other key puppets would qualify.  In this case it’s still considered acting when moving an inanimate object with hands and rods. But there is a direct connection between the actor and the final performance.

Acting and editing
The act of editing the film of a performance can change it’s impact.
The director guides the actor’s performance on set and selects the most appropriate take of the action. Then in editing specific intercutting is used to both tell the story and to emphasis the character as desired. In the early days of film there was a classic test done where a shot of an actor with a neutral expression was intercut with various scenes. The audience response was the actor was doing a good job of  showing happiness, sadness and other emotions based solely on what it was intercut with.

Manipulation
The development of digital effects technology and artists proficient in its use allows actual manipulation of an acting performance. On STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE there were scenes that George Lucas requested be modified. An actor might have looked up in a take but the shot was run in reverse so the actor looked downward instead since that was deemed better for the cut. In some cases the scene was split and the sync of one side was slipped relative to the other. This was used to shift the timing of a reaction from one actor to another. In other cases eye blinks were added or removed as desired. Some directors have added tear drops or other modifications to a performance. The point here is that even a live action performance can be modified in post-production in an effort to create a better film experience. What was the actor’s truth on set may not be what appears in the final film. And in most cases the actors would probably not be aware of it. In the future we’ll likely see even more of this as directors and studios seek to take full advantage of the editing process. And don’t think that these types of details are beyond the scope or budget of post-production. Visual effects is already heavily used for things like removing wig netting, making adjustments to makeup (to the tune of over $1 million in some cases) and adding bruises or wounds. (That’s the real meaning of the term ‘digital makeup’.) A few actor adjustment shots will be a drop in the bucket compared to the other work already being done. It’s possible at a future time there will be debate about the implications of these types of modifications and what that means to actors.

The real process
Some actors talk or write about motion capture and 3D animation as ‘painting’ in the image. Painting? Really? That would make sense if you took a time machine back 100 years before computers and tried to explain it I suppose. But these days it makes as much sense as saying Michelangelo ‘doodled’ the David sculpture.

Short form: The performance of the actor is recorded and applied in some form to a Computer Graphic (CG) animated character.

Long form: Potentially dozens of people create a very detailed and fully articulated CG model. Imagine making a Madam Tussaunds wax figure but an order of magnitude more difficult. Character/creature designers, concept artists and animators work with the director to develop the look of the character. In some cases a physical model is sculpted out of clay for the director to review. Next it needs to be modeled head to toe, down to every key wrinkle in the computer. This is part modeling and part sculpting. A type of skeleton is built where every movable joint that is needed is included and each joint has a specific range of motion. The irises in the eyes can open and close, the eyes can move, the chest can expand when breathing, nostrils flare and the tongue is configured so that speech looks correct. In many cases muscles are built and configured to change shape. Texture artists paint every surface of the model, not with just one paint process but with multiple paint versions. One paint version shows how shiny different parts of the model are. Another is used to show dirt and still another may be used to show the subtle skin textures and tiny wrinkles.

Fur and hair may need to be added. The angle of the hair, the length of the hair and style of the hair have to be modeled. Another person may be responsible for defining where things are hard (finger nails, shells, etc) and where things are soft and pliable on the model. A shader writer writes specialized programming code to make the skin look real in different types of lighting and that it have specific translucency depending on where it is on the body. Every major facial and phonetic expression needs to be modeled to aid the animator in adjusting and expressing both emotion and voice. All this is done by a team of skilled artists and technicians who use the computer as a tool as a sculptor may use a chisel.

Every item of clothing and every prop the character handles has to be designed and built. The motion of the clothing is setup to be simulated. Does this clothing item behave like silk, cotton or canvas? Dangling earrings and the hair will be programmed so that they move in realistic manner when the character is moving.

All of that just to create the character model.

Animation Process
A good animator does act out the scene at their desk or within their mind visualizes the performance. Unlike a live action actor, the animator has to also observe and analyze every motion and expression change. And not only the position but also the timing of all of those motions need to be noted. The animator is able to visualize the changes in slow motion, forward and backwards. They have to translate that into key frame positions for the animated character model. If choice of the position of the arm or the eyebrow is wrong or if the time of those motions is wrong, the animation won’t work. Take after take is required to refine the animation. Any dialog is analyzed as well and the facial expression not only has to convey characters emotion at that 1/24 second granularity but the mouth shape, lips and tongue have to match the correct shape for the phonetic sound created in that moment.

Even actions like setting the feet down and walking take work on the computer. Activities in the real world that happen naturally take effort to do on the computer. The ground in the computer has to be built and matched to the ground of the real location and this is done by a person (match mover). If a foot goes too low then it will go into the ground and if it’s too high the foot won’t make contact with the ground.

And once the animation is done someone has to light it much like a Director of Photography does. Someone has to render the character and others have to composite (combine) the image with the original image from the set. There’s an entire team of craftsmen as big or bigger than the live action crew to make all of this happen.

Performance capture
The combination of powerful computers and digital video cameras made it possible to do computer vision. Images and motion could then be analyzed for scientific and medical purposes. The visual effects industry, as usual, looked to take advantage of these new technologies. Motion capture (MOCAP) became a way to reasonably capture 3D motion data, especially human motion, into the computer. This is useful for recording basic human motion for action shots. Facial capture has been developing which makes it possible to capture not only body motion but the entire performance. When the motion captured includes all aspects of a performance then the term ‘performance capture’ may be used instead of motion capture.

The typical system uses multiple markers that are strategically placed on the actor. A number of specialized cameras are placed around on a small to medium sized stage that is lit by subdued light. The multiple views are combined by special computer software to yield 3D information on each joint movement. In these cases only the motion was captured after the main photography had already been complete. Developments over the last few years (VAN HELSING, etc.) have allowed the capture of an actor on the stage or outside while being filmed at the same time. Additional simplified motion capture processes have also been developed (PIRATES 2, etc.) and it’s now also possible to motion capture a number of actors at the same time. These advancements have allowed motion capture actors more freedom and more interaction with fellow actors. (We still use tennis balls and other references at times. If the CG character is only 4 inches tall or is over 20 feet tall then it can be difficult for a real actor to stand in place and provide the correct interaction.)

For interactive performance capture actors are fitted with special suits and act with fellow actors who will remain in the final scenes. This interaction is of course beneficial for both the actors and the director. Another team of visual effects artists then go through and remove the performance actor by literally painting and restoring what would have been behind them. This is a very labor intensive and time consuming process since it involves hand painting frame by frame and creating imagery that isn’t in the original. The animated character or creature is then rendered and composited into the scene.

The problems
It might seem that once the motion data is captured it could simply be applied to the CG model and viola - a moving character that exactly matches the performance of the actor down to the smallest detail. But alas, such is not the case by a long shot. If it were then many of the animated films created today could be done using performance capture but they aren’t. Live action and animated movies are different art forms and what we’re seeing in some cases is a hybrid of the two. There’s still plenty of growing pains.

1. Even with improvement in the motion capture process there is quite a bit of cleanup required. A simple motion of an actor reaching out may have some frames where the arm leaps up or down a few inches. There might also be random frames where the arm goes behind the actors back or through his body. This takes a small team of people to go through and remove these glitches and clean up the data such that the performance is as pure as possible. In some cases large chunks of data may be missing which requires an animator to fill in with the appropriate motion.

2. CG characters seldom match the real actor unless it’s a digital double. Frequently the proportions are changed such that the arms or legs maybe longer or shorter. This means that the stride and interaction of what the actor was doing doesn’t match what it should. The further away this gets from the real actors body the more difficult it becomes to use the data as it is. A Satyr has totally different leg joints and needless to say a four-legged creature or caterpillar can render much of at least the body motion useless. Captured facial performance may not have much use when the facial structure is very different such as on an insect like creature. All this requires an animator skilled in the understanding of motion, performance and animation to try to retain at least a sense of what the original actors performance was providing. In some cases even performance capture data may become a basic reference or simply inspiration with the brunt of the performance created by the animator.

3. Eyes are the window to the soul and a key tool for the actor but actually capturing the eyes, eye blinks and iris changes has not happened in a meaningful way. That means it’s up to an animator to add these types of fine, but critical, details to complete the performance.

4. In the editing and visual effects process it may be determined that some adjustments may need to be made for technical reasons. Placement and timing of the character versus what the performance capture actor was doing. In some cases it may be the directors creative call to modify a performance once it has been reviewed with the rendered creature in place.

The end result is it’s likely a fair bit of performance capture undergoes some manipulation and work by animators and other artists.  In some cases it may be inappropriate to use performance capture simply because the amount of work required is large and the amount of the performance that can be retained is small. Each project has to be evaluated dependent on the creature/character and how cleanly the performance capture can be used.

So you have pure live action acting on one end of the spectrum and pure animation from scratch on the other end. And in-between you have a gray area. One step away from pure animation is to use references. For DRAGONHEART the animators used both stills and clips of Sean Connery to try to incorporate a bit of his personality into the animated performance they were creating. For a project like RANGO they filmed the actors going through the scenes and the animators used this as a reference to create their animation, trying to keep the spirit and emotion of the actors. In some cases they probably followed the actors performance very closely and in other cases they may have ended up deviating quite a bit from the recorded reference. In this film the types of characters (based on a range of animals) would make it impossible to do an exact match of an actor’s performance. It’s up to the animator to re-interpret and adapt the actors art form into an animated art form, much as a screenwriter may have adapt a novel into a screenplay. The core insight may remain the same but changes have to made to deliver it in a different form.

On some of the more extensive performance capture projects  lately only the animators who worked on the project know how much they did or didn’t do. It won’t be 100% nor will it be 0%. True judgement by those not involved directly in the animation would require a side by side comparison of the original footage next to the finished results.  (Not just a shot or two and not just a cut between the two at a specific frame.) How closely does the final performance match the nuances of the original? Did 90% of the shots just require simply cleanup? Did they end up creating or modifying the performance in the majority of the shots? Was the performance used mainly as a reference and inspiration with the animators creating the majority of the final performance? Or does the actor’s full performance shine through the majority of the shots?


Summary
1. Both acting and animation are difficult and require talent. Both bring life to narrative characters. Both are necessary for making projects of these types and both should get proper respect.

2. Animators and visual effects artists are collaborators with live action production, including acting. As such it would be nice to be acknowledged for the contribution these artists bring to a project and a realistic assessment of the amount of creativity they bring, not to mention the amount of work involved behind the scenes.

3. Performance capture is not a pure technology or art. It will likely have some mix of both an actor’s work and an animators work. What the blend is will depend on the specific project. Those reviewing the performance (critics, awards, etc) will have to determine what balance range they’re willing to consider and to provide credit where credit is due.

4. As visual effects continues to progress and as projects push into new territories there will be even more overlap and blurring of the contribution of all involved in making films. The thinking and mind sets will have to keep up with these developments.

5. Performance capture is not Digital "Make-up". As the word Performance indicates, it’s based on performance which at this point involves some balance of an actor and animator collaborating in a manner to bring the character to life.

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[Update Mar. 4, 2012: I received some questions from a reader related to this that I answered. Thought I'd add it to this post]
What is your opinion on the mainstream, out-of-industry perception of performance capture?
Most people outside of visual effects think performance capture is simply hooking up an actor to a CG puppet of sorts. That there's some type of computer program that transforms the actor directly into a cartoon or CG character.
Andy Serkis believes that 'Performance Capture is a tool, it is simply a way of recording an actors performance, no different to a camera'. What are your thoughts on this statement?
Years from now that may be closer to the truth but currently it's not close to reality. The differences are a camera records the actor directly and presents it as it was acted. The resolution, color and other things may be different but that doesn't change the actual performance. The impact of the acting can be influenced by choice of lens, camera angles and later in the edit but what you see is almost always what you get.
In the case of performance capture the raw acting that is captured has to manipulated and in some cases shoe horned in to match a much different CG character. Each one of those involves a creative and technical choice. Performance capture currently also isn't a pure process. Animators and others will have to correct for glitches in the data and oversee sections where the acting performance was lost due to technology limits. This is especially true for facial capture where animators have to adjust and fill in much of the details to get it to match a much different character face. 

Imagine a camera that drops large number of frames during the shot and that produces very fuzzy images. Since the objective is to create a continuous shot that is sharp and uses a different costume, someone else now has to act the part, dressed in the correct costume, using the original as a rough guide. In the end it's not a direct reproduction of the original performance, it is an attempt to somewhat mimic the original performance. 

And of course with a camera alone the director can't change a performance once it's been completed. But with performance capture they can and do change the performance after the fact. If in the edit the director wants a slightly different body action, facial expression or timing change then it's requested and the animation team make the change without involvement of the original actor.

How successful the original performance capture comes through the final images is dependent on many factors. Some shots may be very accurate representation and in other cases it may be very different. That's why looking at the result by themselves or just one or two comparisons of the original performance to the finished results doesn't really confirm how much is the original performance. The only true way is to see all the shots before and after.
In the context of a traditional 'motion capture' shot featuring a digital character, approximately what percentage of the actors body performance would you say remains untouched or unaltered by animators after the fact? 
As mentioned above that varies enormously. What system was used, who was cleaning up the data, how closely does the CG character match the original actor, how much hand work is required and how many changes the director chose to make after the fact. If it's a specific leap and that is being mapped on to a digital double then 75% or more may may be unaltered. (Still cleaned data but more or less matching the actor's body motion) If it's a CG character with a much different body shape (longer legs, bulkier, etc) running and leaning against a lamp post it could be the inverse of those numbers.
In the case of facial capture, approximately what percentage of the actors facial performance would you say remains untouched or unaltered by animators after the fact? 
Same basic issues as the body but facial capture is even more problematic. I would guess that just about all facial capture requires some hand work beyond just a little data cleaning. With body capture there are a limited number of key joints that need to be captured. (i.e. the knee was bent at 35 degrees on this frame). Body language is important but if you capture a basic gait of a walk cycle most people would accept that was the actor even if it wasn't a totally accurate reproduction. Motion capturing the body has also been done for a number of years now so the technology and understanding is much greater. Facial capture is a much newer process and si still being fully explored.

With facial capture you have multiple muscles all acting at the same time to subtly manipulate mouth, eyebrows and basic facial expression.
Think of the range of people's faces and personalities. Each person is the world is someone unique and identifiable by their face. Yet if all you saw of a person is their body it would be almost impossible to pin down with much accuracy. 

Consider the difference of a smirk and a smile. Very different experience for the audience and actor but very difficult to quantify. Maybe one eyebrow is ached a faction of an inch higher. Maybe the corner of the mouth is raised a little more. Maybe the speed at which it happens is slightly different. And it's the type of thing where you may have to already know the person or character to some extent to even tell the difference. Where do you place points and what do you monitor when capturing? How accurate does the CG model muscle structure actually match the actor's facial muscles? And the more different the CG character is (cartoon style, animal, etc) the more difficult this translation is to make. 

For movies we usually try to treat creatures as forms of people (anthropomorphic) and yet most creatures don't match our body form and certainly don't match our facial form. The creature mouths may not even be able to do what we want so someone has to modify the creature CG model to do that and others have to monitor and adjust the performance required to accomplish that at the level required for the specific project. 

As an audience the face of the character is one of our key focal points so it's even more critical than basic body motion. And one of the places we look is the eyes in real life and the movies. It's been said eyes are the window of the soul. Yet trying to capture true eye motion and then to apply this to a CG character is extremely difficult. In most cases animators have to take over for this so one of the key performances tools from the actor is in the hands of someone else.
Where do you think the technology is heading?
I think the technology will continue to develop to make it easier to capture more accurately with less clean up work required.
Facial capture is the area where we will see even larger changes. But just as important as the technology, if not more important, is the requirement for animators to be able to work with this and know how to get the most out of it. The other important item is those in the industry, including directors and actors, need to understand what it can provide and what it can't provide. They have to understand when it should be used, how it should be used and how to evaluate it. And all of that requires an acceptance of it as a collaboration of actor and animators. Ignoring either groups contribution to the results is not only incorrect, it's wrong.

[Update: 7-20-12  Here's an article on motion capture, animation and video games ]

Update 5-13-14  Randall Cook, the Animation supervisor for the Lord of the Rings films, discusses motion capture and Andy Serkis 




8 comments:

  1. A very interesting read there. What I find odd about this whole heated argument going on at the moment is that it's all driven by the subject of awards.

    Are people that desperate to receive awards (and fame?) that they have to argue so intensely? So long as everyone involved gets a credit at the end of the film, isn't that all that really matters? People seem to lose sight of the purpose of film-making - to make a film. It seems to be seen more as a platform for people to compete on and be praised or ridiculed.

    If we have to have awards, why not just have one single Oscar for "Best Film"?

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  2. For most people who win an award of course it's a big ego boost and it also tends to increase their asking price so they make more on future projects. Not necessarily small potatoes.

    The other issue is how many more opportunities do you get to really shine? For some people, especially actors, they may get a great role that is a perfect match and which they think they nailed it.

    Working in Hollywood there are many lost opportunities simply because you're not offered a project. And even getting on a good movie, let alone a great movie, is difficult at times. Having a good role, a good script, good direction and good public and critical acclaim is like getting the stars to align so most try to leverage it as much as they can when it happens. You'd hate to look back and think that you didn't take advantage of the opportunity at that moment.

    Someone like Andy has played many roles but in this he is one of the main actors in a dramatic film, a fair bit of screen time and critical acclaim for the acting. His next projects may be for secondary characters or for types of films that don't tend to provide acting awards often. (fantasy, comedy, etc) Especially if you're trying to sell the notion of voting for non-typical acting performance.

    I don't envy actors in this business. It's a constant struggle to pull ahead and make a name for yourself. Even if you're 'hot' this year you may be considered old news next year and the studios look elsewhere. And so goes your career. (and yes, the studios are that narrow minded.) It's not quite that bad in visual effects since we're being judged on other things and there tend to more potential opportunities.

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  3. IMHO when talking about "painting the makeup over it" its not meant like "painting a wall" but more like "painting a picture". Rembrandt and Rubens were incredibly skilled painters after all. And so are animators. Most of the argument on the net is about assumption in the end. :(

    Referring to your description of the influence of editing and post production on an actors performance, one can say: What we see on the screen as "an actors performance" is always a lot of team work. Unfortunately people don't like that thought when it comes to honor best performances.

    Instead, following the general discussion on the net, it quite seems that the costume designers and makeup artists are always doing a pretty easy job on "regular" actors (especially when using lots of prostetics). Why else is the work of performance capture animators - who create and apply a digital puppet or costume - so much more important? In fact makeup and costume department are doing so "easy" that they have their own award categories for decades. But how about Benjamin Button? Nominated for best makeup (won), best visual effects (won) - and best actor in a leading role (nominated). So what? Just because one could still see "his" face?

    The interesting thing for me about that is: Involved(!) animators have absolutely no problem in talking about how important the work of the actors was and that the animation was really devoted to the original performances of the actors. The whole argument was raised by people who were not involved and just thought the work of the CGI animators belittled.

    But the intention was just not to belittle the important work of the involved actors any longer.

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  4. Sorry for second post, but I just read too much tech-talk about this topic:

    The question is also not which scene is keyframe-animated or what else technical wizardry was used. This is not about a technical process (the animators already have their recognition and, yes, precious awards).

    The question is, if all the things a character does (or most of them, see editing and post production again) - his reactions, facial expression, his voice, the whole personality behind - are driven by an actors performance and not by an animators decisions. It's about what an actor delivers and if the digital result corresponds to that.

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  5. The word painting was used in a context to imply covering up the actor with CG, not a reference to quality.

    I understand why the actor's description to try to simplify it for other actors but it's still wrong in concept.

    Yes, live action uses a lot of people too and they do use make up and other things.

    However:
    1. This is NOT digital make up. This directly affects the acting and performance which real makeup does not.it's not a question of easy or hard, it's an issue about performance.

    2. On a live action set, even with real makeup, the actor is doing a 100% of the acting. Except as manipulated later.

    But performance capture is a combination of the actor and the animator. What you end up on screen is not likely to be 100% performance by the actor. And that is what is being reviewed and rewarded. It is NOT a puppet nor is it a costume. Just like real makeup, real costumes do not change the performance, especially after the fact. Performance capture does affect performance after the fact.

    Vfx artists and animators want to get that point across since by portraying it in a fictional light it merely confuses the issue.

    As noted in my article it's fine if the actor's performance does come through for all the shots. In such a case they should get credit. However that is an unknown without some type of reference. Whether the org. Animators had issues doesn't matter because a different group will be reviewing it as a performance.

    In the end the performance is what is being judged and exactly what the balance is does need to be considered by those reviewing the performance.

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  6. Scott, I think a much more accurate comparison for the motion capture/make-up analogy would be a cable or servo operated mask. You get the actor's performance, plus the performance of 'animators' off camera to create a full character performance. So his 'King Kong' is much more like Rick Baker's 1977 version than his 'Caesar' being like Roddy McDowall's.
    Some interesting thoughts on Serkis' (who I do not know) Oscar drive:
    1.) Why does it seem he only pushes for his motion capture rolls? Why not any of his live action rolls? He also had an on-screen character in 'King Kong'. Was there a push for Best Supporting Actor for that roll?
    2.) How about a push for Captain Haddock in 'Tin Tin'? Presumably this was his performance as well? The fact that it's being considered in so many 'Best Animated Film' categories sort of dilutes his contention that motion capture is acting.
    I think if Serkis really wants his acting chops to shine, he should turn down any further motion capture work and focus strictly on on-camera roles.

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  7. This is in reply to the 2nd Stephen post since Blogger had failed to post.

    "The question is also not which scene is keyframe-animated or what else technical wizardry was used. This is not about a technical process (the animators already have their recognition and, yes, precious awards). "

    We're not discussing a technical process. True animation isn't a technical process. Nor are we talking about the need for animators to get more awards.

    "The question is, if all the things a character does (or most of them, see editing and post production again) - his reactions, facial expression, his voice, the whole personality behind - are driven by an actors performance and not by an animators decisions. It's about what an actor delivers and if the digital result corresponds to that."

    That's the point. How much of any performance you see on the screen from performance capture is the original actor's performance?

    If the vfx company is purely doing a technical pass to exactly match the actor's performance then yes, the actor deserves full accolades for the performance. But as I mention that's certainly not always the case and without comparing real before and afters it would be hard to argue for one or the other. Just because the animation follows the same basic motion of the original actor may not mean much if the facial action and details of the body don't match.

    As I propose different groups will have to determine thresholds. if the character exactly matches the actor's performance for 90% that would probably qualify. What about 50% of the shots? What if animator's replace the facial expression in 40% of the shots?

    To put another way suppose the body double or stunt double also acts in key scenes. Where's the dividing line there? What if you have twins playing the same role? Where's the diving line?

    Tin Tin is considered Animation but it's performance capture. As I said the lines are blurring between types of movies and who does what. In many case it's a mix of multiple types or people. The old distinctions aren't as dry cut as they once were.

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  8. Colin - Good reference point regarding operated masks. All depends on the project and how it's handled. Would an actor get full credit if all the facial acting were done by a puppeteer?

    In this case of course post-animation could match the facial capture very closely which a mask could not. Also post-animation could change major body action which a mask could not.

    re: Why is he pushing for his mocap roles? - I think because they're his biggest roles.

    re: Why not push for captain Haddock in Tin Tin? Because Haddock isn't the lead character and because of the type of film (including the fact it's 'animation') it's unlikely many groups would be willing to vote for best acting in such a role just as it's difficult to get an acting nomination for comedy or other types of roles.

    Just to be clear-
    I have full respect for Andy and what he's helped achieve. Not every actor is up to or open to mocap. I can see why he's pushing for acting credit in this case.

    The issue is how to explain and characterize the process in an unbiased manner. It's also necessary to understand and evaluate each performance unto itself. If it's Andy's performance shining through on almost all shots (facial expressions, exact mannerisms and timings, etc) then he should certainly be given credit for accomplishing that. In that case the vfx team and animators have been given the directive to replicate his performance as if they had traced his exact expression and movement frame by frame.

    However even if this were true in this case it shouldn't create a presidence that all motion capture roles are all created by the actor. That varies with each project and each character.

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