Emotion capture

A short ILM/Paramount video on Rango Emotion Capture. Download mov

We wanted to post this as it is an interesting way of capturing a more animated acting performance. We have often wondered why this was not done before now – it seems like such a more friendly actor environment than just doing a straight to mic read? Rango does not come out until the 4th of March but it looks like it could finally deliver for ILM their own in-house blockbuster.

9 thoughts on “Emotion capture”

  1. “We have often wondered why this was not done before now – it seems like such a more friendly actor environment than just doing a straight to mic read?”

    a) lack of trust in the animator’s ability to carry the performance through keyframing and reference only.

    b) deus ex machina; too much faith in the technology to solve the problems that pure artistry would achieve.

  2. Sorry I am not sure I understand your points?
    But if you are saying Pixar and now ILM – dont have trust in their animators abilities? I disagree. I should add I think the aim here is to improve the voice performance – not the animators. The ability to have the actors ‘actor’ with other actors helps them (the actors) nail a great performance. I also personally have found that even great animators prefer more reference than less. It seems completely reasonable.
    Plus it looks like a fun shoot… you know everything isnt a “plus/minus” game – sometimes it is just a plus to do something and it takes nothing away from anyone else’s role/respect/position.

    1. yeah, you aren’t getting my point. we aren’t disagreeing at all. post-production houses like ILM and production houses like Pixar respect the results that they can achieve through keyframe animation.

      it’s directors like james cameron, and studios in general that have too much faith in technology alone to carry the performance an emotion capture. i the case of avatar, only reluctantly, did cameron agree to “allow” keyframing to become involved.

      doing a shoot the way that they did at ILM for Rango makes perfect sense, it provides tons of animation reference for the animators; they can basically roto-mate and exaggerate timings as needed.

      1. I think you are kidding yourself if you think Cameron reluctantly “allowed” keyframing…

        It’s not like keyframe animation itself is inherently bad (definitely not actually), it is that it is just much more time consuming if what you are after is absolutely realistic results.

        I think the ideal setup would be do have the animators on set with the actors, using them as reference to draw quick thumbnails and actually be there to see how they interact.

  3. This is actually rather similar to Spike Jonze’s approach to the audio recording sessions in Where The Wild Things Are, where the studio worked more like a stage / sandbox for the actors to fully express themselves, and done so to great effect, in my opinion.

  4. Absolutely love this idea. Got to agree with Mike, this is a way to get MUCH better performances from actors, by allowing them to, act. This is a perfect example of how it should be done. I for one am excited to see an animated movie from a U.S. studio other than Pixar that actually has some interesting character design.

    The only downside I can see here is now you don’t have/get to do all the playing around that is required to make a scene work ;D

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