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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Robert Zemekis' Beowulf -- animated?

   
Author Topic: Robert Zemekis' Beowulf -- animated?
Gobo
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Apple's just posted the trailer for Robert Zemekis' new movie from his Imagemovers production company -- "Beowulf". http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/

Now, I'm a little baffled. I'd heard that this was entirely mo-capped, but I'm looking at what appears to be a flesh-and-blood Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone walking around. Anyone know if this was done "300-style" (green-screen with mo-capped monsters) or "Polar Express style"? And if so, why on earth would they bother to have actors do motion-capture performances only to model their mo-capped characters to look exactly like them anyway?

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animator-boy
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yes it is mocap and yes indeed the actors CG counter parts looks exactly like them......puzzling no?

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tstevens
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It's essentially the next generation mo-cap that Zemeckis used in Polar Express.

I think the theory is that if you are doing effects heavy shots then you should just keep the whole thing digital and save the money that you would otherwise spend on building sets, costumes and props.

The clips I have seen on TV make it look like it is still in that ambiguous area of "not quite human".

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-FP-
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It's as if the performers are wearing masks of themselves.
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Thomas
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what is the point of doing this when you have the live actors availble? All your're going to end up with is zombified versions of the actors they are recreating, as you can tell just by looking at the few scenes they put up in the trailer. Zemekis ought to lay off his kick of creating these creepy looking mo-cap movies that he is so enamoured of.

I've no doubt that the story (if kept true) will be a good one, but do you really want to see manikins walking through classic stories?

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Graphiteman
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quote:
"not quite human".
"Uncanny Valley as the Pixar folks say.
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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
what is the point of doing this when you have the live actors availble?
From a producer's perspective, I can see the appeal of a virtual actor that will never age, never die and never ask for residuals.

That said, I'd rather see live actors instead of what LightWaveDave once dubbed "necro-thespians."

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Thomas
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quote:
I can see the appeal of a virtual actor that will never age, never die and never ask for residuals.
The only problem I see with this line of reasoning is that once you film the actors for the movie then it effectively does the same thing, except for the residuals thing.

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eboles
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That one shot of Angelina Jolie coming out of the water looked pretty good, the rest of it, I'm not so sure. There's definitely a few dud shots in there. What we see here of the digital Anthony Hopkins, he doesn't have the same presence as the flesh and blood actor.

I'll be interested in seeing if it's watchable. Remember the 'uncanny valley' is just theoretical. I'm willing to give it the outside chance that I might be able to watch it without the fakery and artifice getting in the way. Yeah it's probably a big waste of money and talent, but what the hell. So long as it doesn't turn into a trend.

After this I heard Zemeckis and his mocap zombie studio are making pictures for Disney.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
The only problem I see with this line of reasoning is that once you film the actors for the movie then it effectively does the same thing, except for the residuals thing.
For a single film, this is true.

I'm thinking of franchise films like Indiana Jones, Terminator and Rambo, where an actor's aging makes it tougher for him to play the character in sequels. I'm also thinking of film stars who no longer make films because they have passed on, like Humphery Bogart.

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Joris
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not to mention just the pure technical kick. Altough I do have my doubts with motion-capture, I encourage the development of this new tool. In the end, if it makes a better movie (so far it hasn't, though), I'm happy.
I guess movies like these raise the bar so high that there aren't many short cuts to hide its flaws, which means those whom are on the project will have to do everything they can to make it work. Why not experiment with it with a high budget if the studios allow you to do so? I rather see this way of motion capture than utilised on tapdancing antromorphic penguins.

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Animation Co-op
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quote:
"Uncanny Valley" as the Pixar folks say
The term "Uncanny Valley" was coined by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley

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Eric Hedman
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Stop thinking just about actors....

Think about all the sets that are never going to be built....but can be "built" for pennies on the dollar in slave labor conditions elsewhere in the world.


I think for Beowulf the hard part will be getting the little ping pong balls on the Dragon.

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Tobias A. Wolf
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Fidelity in mimicry as an aesthetic incentive is no doubt enticing to me as a viewer, especially for it's novelty. But it is a very thin one. A flute can be played to sound like a songbird, masterpieces can be recreated with an etch-a-sketch, the text of a paragraph can be laid-out to form the silhouette of a figure, but is it the best use of the inherit advantages of the form in terms of reaching people in a broad sense? I would say no.

Outside financial considerations, why would you use a plumbers wrench to screw in a light bulb unless you were three years old and didn't know any better? Then again, I guess in comparison to other forms of cinema, CG is like a three year old. Hey, someone's got to make the mistakes right?

Regardless, I do hope the film does well as there is little doubt they are trying to break some ground with someone else's money. That in and of itself is hard enough.

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Animagus
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quote:
I'm thinking of franchise films like Indiana Jones, Terminator and Rambo, where an actor's aging makes it tougher for him to play the character in sequels.
Harry Potter, anyone? Sure, those kids are maturing as their characters do, but, well boy are they growing up fast.
I think the point of using the virtual mo-cap actors for "Beowolf" is not that they won't age. Quite the opposite. It's the fact that they WILL be able to age them. Supposedly, for instance, Ray Winstone will play the title character from childhood, through adolescence, and adulthood.
I guess this will be like Tom Hanks "playing" those multiple roles in "Polar Express", or Jim Carrey playing Scrooge, and some of the ghosts in that just announced production of "A
Christmas Carol".

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animator-boy
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"I'm also thinking of film stars who no longer make films because they have passed on, like Humphery Bogart."

Years ago I read something along these lines.. I think it was an ILM write up...how actors from the past could be brought back digitally and put in films today. I don't know that just seems...wrong....

There is that weird line in the sand...Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones. The man in the hat up on the screen is a fictious character...like Mickey Mouse...he's not a "real" person and it just so happens he resembles Harrison Ford.

Using old footage of Marlon Brando is one thing but reconstructing a dead person that you can then use to sell your film....seems creepy.....like Orville Redenbacher selling me popcorn from the grave creepy...

I wonder what kind of ownership, if any, the actors have over their CG doppplegangers.

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Jessie
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Like it or not Icons WILL come back from the dead over and over… Try to take control while you can cuz, Life, uh... finds a way.
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Michael W Howe
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Zemeckis had said for awhile that the style would be almost like a Frank Frazetta painting. However, it looks more streamlined than I imagined it to be.

I also was not expecting an almost exact copy of Angelina Jolie in her part. Though the motion capture work on Crispin Glover as Grendel seemed to bowl over Quint at AICN.

I was listening to Zemeckis' comments on the commentary on 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit.' And while he seems to like animation, I think he was a bit distraught at the 'time' involved to create that film. It was not instantaneous, and there was much juggling and rushing to get it done. If you listen to the Nik Ranieri interview on Animation Podcast, Nik explains how an early test screening probably less than a year before the completion date had hardly any finished animation.

I felt that with the mo-cap technology, Zemeckis felt he had a way to create 'life-like' movement, but cutting down on all that lost time while the animators drew over and over and over again.

Though Mo-Cap still hasn't eliminated all the problems. I'm still thinking Anthony Hopkins character talking in the Beowulf trailer- something about the way the sking around his nose and mouth moves just doesn't seem right.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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I just caught some of Back to the Future on TV. That film has so much going right for it...including wonderful performances by human actors. CG has a long way to go before it can replace living actors.

-+-

Here's what one magazine had to say:

quote:
From http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/07/beowulf_robert_zemeckis_gives_actors.html

The Gist: In an exciting step toward finally getting rid of actors completely, Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf stars photorealistic computer-generated models instead of actual people. See that thing that looks like Angelina Jolie? When this scene was being committed to film by robots, the real Jolie was somewhere else — probably Africa or something. The movie itself looks like a pretty standard, by-the-numbers medieval epic. It's impressive that Zemeckis was able to keep the budget to a reported $70 million, but wouldn't it have been cheaper just to use B-roll from Lord of the Rings?



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monkeydad
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I don't know about using recognizable digital doubles of actors when it comes to avoiding residuals. Most actors control the rights to the use of their physical appearance, since that's their stock-in-trade. I'm sure that if someone wanted to use a digital Bogart, say, in a movie they'd have to procure the rights to do so from the Bogart estate. And from there it's a small step to residuals and such.
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Ganklin
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i agree with m. howe. it almost seems like zemekis has a love/hate relationship with animation. he sounds like he wants to make animated film but has nothing but disdain for it.

i feel like im one of the few who instantly recognized it as CGI and not some kind of post processing to live actors. my question is why did they do this film like this? maybe we'll find out...

my favorite part of this whole thing is the movies website. when you go to beowulfmovie.com an intro loads up and beowulf proclaims "i am here to kill your mon-shtaa"

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Chris Roman
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It's my impression reading several interviews with Zemekis that he's enamored with the idea that by having CG actors, he has the ultimate in 'coverage', meaning at any time, at his every whim, he can change an angle of a shot, pan through or push in whenever he feels the urge, and not worry about having to reset the stages and bring back the actors. Plus if they're all CG no need to wait for them to get into make-up and costume.

It sounds to me like the guy just plain hates actors.

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eboles
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quote:
i feel like im one of the few who instantly recognized it as CGI and not some kind of post processing to live actors.
They didn't do that seemless a job. My first thought was that it looked like a video game cinematic.
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Animation Co-op
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"Nice video game cinematic" was the first thought here as well. [Wink]

It was so clearly not post-processing of live action... unless those actors suddenly lost the ability to move their facial muscles. [funny]

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eboles
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There's been some quite incredible game cinematics of late. I still have a bias where I think of them as a lower form, but we're at a point where cinematics can certainly look every bit as good as big screen theatrical animation.

Potential problems with this look: some of the audience may expect a live action film, while others may wonder whether it's coming out on Xbox or Nintendo.

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Animagus
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Speaking of Zemeckis, Crispin Glover, and "Back to the Future", would "Beowolf", mark the first time that Zemeckis and Glover have worked together since that first BTTF film? I know that they had some kind of "falling out" during the shooting of the first one (hence, the up-side down, older "George McFly" character in BTTF II is a different actor).
Also, the likenesses of deceased actors may still be owned by their estates, or their heirs. This even goes for the imitations of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe in "Happy Feet". (read the end credits).
As far as ressurecting Bogart, I think Zemeckis already did that in an episode of "Tales From The Crypt", made back in the 90's.

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knowledge
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"Return of the Zombies"
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Animation Co-op
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quote:
would "Beowolf", mark the first time that Zemeckis and Glover have worked together since that first BTTF film? I know that they had some kind of "falling out"
Zemeckis was upset with Crispin because (according to Zemeckis) Crispin was incapable of hitting his marks and had no understanding of scene continuity.

Ironically, you would seem to need that awareness in spades to produce high-quality performance capture (a la Andy Serkis).

Then again, flawed perf-cap means more work for animators... whether or not anyone wants to admit that the characters still require animation in "post". [Wink]

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robster16
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pointless and incredible ugly!!!
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Map
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I'm not wasting a cent on this film.
Try to rent Beowulf and Gendel with Gerard Butler. Its a Canadian film with Sarah Polley. Its a fun film.

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Animagus
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Here he is! Crispin "Grendel" Glover on "Letterman" in 1987:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujtiu46OXR4&mode=related&search=

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animator-boy
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"I know that they had some kind of "falling out" during the shooting of the first one (hence, the up-side down, older "George McFly" character in BTTF II is a different actor)."

I had heard, and it may not be true, that they wanted Crispin back but he wanted too much money...also the actress who played Jennifier apparently had gone through some substance abuse and was not prepared to return to acting...hence her recast...

Pisky actors...if only he had his puppet zombies back then... [Wink]

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Greg B
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ROFL! Soon we'll have virtual reality worker actors who we'll outsource to.

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Striker
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Until they figure out how to get the human soul behind those zombie eyes, this stuff will never reach the potential it could.

Also, I can see where this could lead. The invention of completely digital actors not based on anyone from real life. They'll just invent new digital actors complete with their own look and personality and the public will start to want to see the same digital actor in upcoming movies.

"Ooooh..I saw him in the movie such and such." he was great!"

"But he's not a real person, just a computer image."

"...but he's great!"

*sigh*

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Mel Allen Sink
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Is that much diiferent than Bugs Bunny not being real person but "just" a cartoon?

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mr-dunn*
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it's just a thought-we all mention how lifeless the eyes are in this type of mo-cap-
to capture all the subtle movements of an eyeball-(which is not mathematically spherical-am i right?)-and all the ways that would distort the eyelids and surrounding skin-
would they need an entirely different micro-mo-cap system to just to capture eyesphere movement-? maybe that exists..
maybe it is missing that type of eyeball ping pong left and right movement that you see if you study extreme closeups in live action-
just a thought-we were all marvelling at the amazing details of the models-totally amazing....
another question-in terms of numbers of people employed on a production of this type-if this was shot as a typical live action movie with vfx-do you think it would be higher -lower or similar?
cheerio-

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Graphiteman
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quote:
quote:
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"Uncanny Valley" as the Pixar folks say
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The term "Uncanny Valley" was coined by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley

Wow. Didn't know that. thanks.
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