Ratatouille Triumphant

bradratpix.jpg
Brad Bird at last night’s world premiere of Ratatouille at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The best film of the summer will be released next week. Not best animated film – best film, period. The reviews are literally unanimous – 100% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.

I saw the film and add my name to the chorus. It’s brilliant! But what really excites me is that once again Pixar, and Brad Bird, have pushed the envelope, progressing the art and storytelling potential that can be accomplished with computer graphics. And this is a film Bird took over and reworked — usually a recipe for disaster. Not this time.

The animation and art direction are superb. Every creative descision seems just perfect – from casting to design and through every plot twist and turn. The 2-D graphic end credits should be noted – once again the Pixar animators tease us with the possibility of what a traditionally hand drawn Pixar cartoon might feel like. And the final tagline in the end credits gave me the biggest smile of the night:

“Our Quality Assurance Guaratee: 100% Genuine Animation! No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts were used in the production of this film.”

Don’t miss it.


  • GhaleonQ

    To be fair, that dumb aggregate up-or-down vote of 10 reviewers was a stupid justification for seeing it.

    That being said, Bird can do little wrong and executed well.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    I’m anxious to see it. I wonder if the DVD will go into any details as to what the Pinkava version of the film was like before Brad Bird came onto the project?

  • http://siskavard.blogspot.com Corey

    Bird keeps hitting them out of the park!

  • http://doubleben.blogspot.com/ Emmett Goodman

    I am not a religious person, but in a way, I can say that Brad Bird is God.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    With a genius like Brad Bird, this is a guarantee for me to head to the theaters next week!

  • joecab

    Not a complete rave: Entertainment Weekly merely gave it a B. :(

    Me, I just hope kids won’t be turned off by the subject matter: c’mon parents drag them by force!

  • Daniel

    That’s great! I was walking home past the Kodak theater (I live on hollywood blvd.) and really wished I could be there and see the movie. I’m glad it sounds as good as I hoped it would be despite certain articles stating their doubts about it being “french” and “just another animal movie.”

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    100% on rotten tomatoes? Holy crap! Usually if something gets a score over 90 on there it’s like a sign of the apocalypse.

    And does anyone else find those dudes in the costumes in the pic Jerry posted a bit unsettling? They’re freaking me out!

    I wish there were some advanced screenings of this around my town.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com Robert

    Iron Giant was a film that Brad Bird took over and reworked also. He’s pretty good at that. At a festival I saw early footage from when IG was a musical based on a previous work by Pete Townsend

  • Tom Minton

    When are they gonna start using fiberglass executive suits, with oversized heads? The real guys are way too busy to attend every premiere and the fake ones photograph better. They can even use them at theme parks, so everyone can have their picture taken with a fiberglass Bob Iger. Why didn’t I think of this during Eisner’s tenure? His head is already a cartoon.

  • http://www.isleofsmeeb.blogspot.com Matt Sullivan

    That’s wonderful! I’m so happyfor Brad and all the wonderful people at Pixar. They are the best thing to happen to animation since Walt Disney himself.

    Sorry mocap guys, I gotta agree with the tagline at the end of the film. Motion capture is a cheat. There’s no artistry involved. No challenge. No from-the-gut struggle to make animation by hand ( by pencil or mouse ) Hopefully, this will teach everyone that real animation is ( and should be ) hard to make.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com Bryan

    “And does anyone else find those dudes in the costumes in the pic Jerry posted a bit unsettling? They’re freaking me out!”

    Zekey,
    What I find more disturbing is that the photo is centered on Elton John instead of Brad Bird. …Just kidding!

  • http://www.ghiblicon.blogspot.com Daniel Thomas MacInnes

    Well, I’m certainly hopeful for this movie, far more than before Brad Bird took over. Am I expecting the year’s best film? No. I think that’s just a bit of the ‘ol hyperbole. Will it still be bound to the same weaknesses as all American animation, the ones even Pixar haven’t transcended? Routine sitcom plots, stock characters, reliance on melodrama (there always has to be some “evil villain” with the twirling mustache and all), and the wonderful “pweachy, mowal wessons.”

    I’m a fan of Brad Bird, and I’d say Incredibles is my favorite Pixar movie after the first Toy Story (which has a certain Ramones tempo to it). I expect it to be really good. I also expect the Tomato-meter to drop down to a more realistic level once it’s let loose on the critics. Not that I’d blindly follow their opinions, or anyone else’s. Quite frankly, I don’t think most movie critics have a clue what animation is about…apart from something to take your kids to.

    If Bird can help American animation grow up, if only a little, we’ll be one step closer to that literary, literate, and emotionally honest style of filmmaking. We’re still 40 years behind the old Japanese masters. Shouldn’t we have caught up by now?

  • Steve

    If WB hadn’t snatched Iron Giant out of the hands of max howard and given it to Brad Bird, it would have been an all singing, all dancing musical. Although WB didn’t follow through in promoting the film, at least it didn’t turn out to be the turd that max howard’s other film, quest for camelot,” did.

  • http://thmazing.com Th.

    .

    Miss it? Never!

  • matt

    100% ‘genuine’ animation guarantee?

    But I thought this ‘was done by computers’!!?!

    ;)

  • http://cleverdogproductions.blogspot.com Peter

    Hey Matt, you have to remember that it takes people to animate the film. It doesn’t matter if something is drawn, Photographed or made with a computer. What matters is that is if a good film? and with Brad’s track record, I would be surprised if this film flopped at the box office (with the Pixar name behind it and all)

    Anyway, to what I was going to say. I’m sad about this film…

    Why I hear you ask, well. Being in the Uk, WE DON’T GET IT IN THE CINEMA’S UNTIL OCTOBER!!!!!!!!

    Pull you’re collective noses out Disney, so then the great British publice can see the film already…

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s still a couple of weeks longer before it gets released here in Belgium.

    “Quite frankly, I don’t think most movie critics have a clue what animation is about…apart from something to take your kids to.” What always baffles me, is that when a (usually Japanese) film like Paprika is released, critics talk about how they hope it teaches the western studios/audiences that animation isn’t just a medium for kids, yet when an American animated film is released, those very same critics review it from a kid’s point of view.

  • Carl

    “We’re still 40 years behind the old Japanese masters. Shouldn’t we have caught up by now?”

    Hardly. There’s a handfull of very good Japanese cartoons, but most of them are incoherant tripe. There’s a whole lot of crap out there, but at least the best American animation can COMMUNICATE an idea…and not just move around and explode a lot with “deep dark meaning” that signifies nothing…as most Japanese cartoons do.

  • matt

    Hey Peter,

    uh, did you not see the winking smiley there?

    It was a fairly friendly dig at how for the last couple of decades ‘traditional’ animators (as in 2d, stop-mo etc) have derided CG. Yes it’s just a different pencil and even though the vast majority is crap IT’S NOT the fault of the medium or technique. The majority of old-school animation was inane puerile clichéd rubbish too, but somehow still more ‘worthy’ than the same trash in CG. This is so-called animation fans I’m talking about too. Yes, everything should be in service to the story and if the story is rubbish then it’s a bit disingenuous to say ‘well at least it was hand-done’ like it makes the movie or tv show better rather than a waste of a lot of talented people’s time and effort. These people are falling into the kind of trap Brad Bird talks about when he says animation is not a genre – they confuse the execution/style with the worth which is like confusing the story/genre with the medium. Notice that I’m in no way diminishing the talent of the animators themselves, just decrying the waste of their ability.

    My issue is that many people who rubbished cg have now adopted a new pet hate and deride motion capture outright, some of them hoping no-one will notice they’ve now accepted CG. They also conveniently ignore how much the MC is supplemented with keyframed animation to not just make up for its deficiencies but make the whole greater than the sum of both its parts. Should the purity of the story be sacrificed for the purity of the execution? Of course not! The Thief and the Cobbler’s masterful and mindboggling achievements with machinery animation aren’t more impressive within the context of the story because they were hand-animated. Williams had no choice in the matter as CG though seemingly perfect for it was nowhere near practical or intuitive enough at the time. It took him ’til the early nineties to backtrack on previous comments where he dismissed the ‘medium’ (due to people like Pixar ironically enough). Even morphing was not inherently evil and strangely enough the two best implementation are two of the earliest – Willow, and Black or White where different things happened at different rates and were ostensibly ‘keyframed’. Human decisions – like the ‘set it on automatic’ crap that followed.

    Mocap is the new morphing.

    I tried to take a fairly objective view (and even got banned when my point was misunderstood) while calling others to task for their prejudiced views in the Happy Feet thread. But no-one really wants to know at the moment. The funniest thing about it was that the picture they used to illustrate the article COULDN’T possibly have been motion-captured (penguins flying through the air in a sequence about a landslide!!)!

    The irony of the mocap thing overwhelms me because yes there are many shortcomings in using it as the be-all end-all, but the whole thing is to use it WISELY and in conjunction with regular digital animation to get to a place neither can go to completely by themselves. Which is a HUMAN (sorry can’t do italics don’t mean to shout) decision. Oh the irony!

    And in the wide view, even though I love classic Disney, how is a purely mocapped character with bad gravity and movement due to no tweaking of targets and weight distribution and mass and so -on different in the end to that same damn rubbernecked bimbo doubletake most 2d animated Disney heroines do? Not only is it the SAME body language for supposedly different characters, it’s not even a HUMAN’s body language. It belongs to a Chihuahua!! Yes of course I’m exaggerating as Disney stuff is stylised in its own way but hopefully you get my point. Everything depends on human decisions and appropriate implementation.

    I think people are missing that the little Ratatouille dig is tongue in cheek. That could just be me though – only Brad Bird knows for sure.

    Yes I’m a bit upset, not just for the hip bias aginst mocap but for the same reason as you. Down here in Oz we have school holidays/term break in a week, but for some reason Disney’s genius marketing dept have made exactly the same mistake as with Nemo and are releasing it at the end of August/start of September! Don’t they WANT to make money??? We get big releases like Transformers and many others now BEFORE the States and have to wait for this one for some inexplicable reason? BTW to be clear I’m not confusing kids’ films with family/ALL inclusive films but holy cow how many tickets would they sell releasing it during a holiday? Gah!

    Phew, sorry for the long-winded (but justified IMHO) rant. Betcha wished you’d noticed the smiley now eh? ;)

  • John Smith

    There’s something I don’t understand about that tagline, though. Isn’t Lasseter going to be overseeing or supervising the motion capture films Robert Zemeckis does for Disney?

  • Rat

    “Isn’t Lasseter going to be overseeing or supervising the motion capture films Robert Zemeckis does for Disney?”

    Nope. Robert Zemeckis will oversee that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_qD-RBMpu4 IKR

    I saw the film when it had it’s sneak previews on June 16th, and I LUVED eet.

  • http://www.ghiblicon.blogspot.com Daniel Thomas MacInnes

    No, Matt, we don’t mind the rants. That’s why we’re all here ;)

    It’s easy to get swept up in loving or hating the latest technology that appears in the movies, be it cgi or mocap or rotoscope or whatever. The fear, and I think it’s a genuine one, is that the human skills of animators will one day be replaced entirely by the machines. This is a very long discussion – dating back to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution – so that balance between man and his machines will continue for some time.

    I’m not biased towards hand-drawn animation per se, but as I grow older I have more of a yearning for authenticity, for something that’s real. I like art that’s been created by human hands, like the clay characters from Aardman, in which you can actually see the fingerprints. Or perhaps Yuri Norstein’s paper cutouts, which are detailed and meticulous, and animated in a miraculous way that only a handful of the greatest movie directors could achieve.

    And then I’m also a great admirer of Pixar, and Toy Story in particular. Heck, Disney’s Destino short a few years ago beatifully fused traditional and computer animation, and it was a revelation. In the end, a great movie is a great movie, and I’m sure we all have our distinct reasons for liking them.

    Carl makes an interesting point about Japanese cartoons. Quite a lot of it is tripe. What’s the old rule? 90% of everything is crud? Very true. Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming all of a country’s movies are all alike. For every Orson Welles, there are three Michael Bay’s. Yuck. It only makes you appreciate the masters all the more.

    Ben Ettinger wrote down his list of favorite anime on his excellent Anipages blog some time ago, and I’ve used it as a yardstick of my own experience. According to him, this isn’t a definitive “top 10″ list, just a short list of the movies and shows that had the greatest impact upon him.

    Here’s Ettinger’s “10 anime that had a major impact on me”:

    Goku’s Big Adventure
    Horus, Prince of the Sun
    Belladonna
    Little Jumbo
    3000 Leagues in Search of Mother
    Gauche the Cellist
    (Yoshifumi) Kondo’s Nemo pilot
    A Night on the Galactic Railroad
    Hakkenden: Hamaji’s Ressurection episode
    Cat Soup

    I would also personally add three more movies to the list, and I hope you’ll endulge me since two of them are Ghibli films, and everyone here is already familiar with them. But no other animated film has carried the same impact for me as Omohide Poro Poro, and to a slightly lesser extent, Whisper of the Heart. And, finally, the best animation movie of this decade, a criminally-overlooked gem called Mind Game.

    Hope that helps everyone out. Be sure to check YouTube for some of them. I’m currently uploading a version of Horus with subtitles, so please be patient on that.

  • Simon

    I heard from a friend at pixar that the 100% real animation bit is a reference to something they showed at the wrap party making fun of mocap.
    Seen it once, and I can’t wait for it to come out so I can see it again ;D

  • Bob

    The reviews that are on rotten tomatoes may be positive for now, but that Entertainment Weekly review is still full of it;

    “The lack of celebrity voices is a major drawback, since Remy ends up with very little personality. Contrast him with, say, the bad-boy Owen Wilson speedster in Cars, and you’re seeing the difference between a hero with spice and a bland one who happens to know where the spice rack is.”

    What the hell?

  • David

    Simon, was it the intro to the CalArts Producers’ show?

  • http://www.jeandenis.net Jean-Denis Haas

    I just have to comment on that very tiresome debate that is the justification and respect of mocap.

    Personally, and I presume I can speak for a lot of animators out there, hand made animation is more rewarding, because you get to create from scratch. So if I had a choice, I would animate it myself.

    What irks me is the arrogant position that people take by absolutely dismissing mocap. It’s leading to that foolish thought that whatever is hand made cg, is better than mocap cg. The (hopefully – but you know not really) tongue in cheek certificate of “genuine hand made” animation doesn’t help. I saw Ratatouille yesterday and thought it was fantastic. But not because it was keyframed, but because the story, the characters, the design, etc. worked. Of course the animation was great, but no one in their right mind is going to use mocap for a movie like “Ratatouille”, the style doesn’t required it.

    You use mocap for photoreal movement, because it needs to fit within a photoreal environment. Directors and producers also think that the mocap process is faster than keyframe. Plus with mocap directors get instant feedback and actually feel like they are directing. Keyframed animation takes too long (many directors have problems seeing past the “blocking” stage and can’t fill in the blanks).

    But the director, producer or whoever is calling the shots has no idea how much work it takes to make the mocap look good and how much hand tweaking is necessary for final approval. I don’t know the numbers but I have my doubts that mocap is that much cheaper than doing an animation from scratch. But like it or not, mocap with hand tweaking looks very real. It’s extremely difficult to get to a photoreal level of animation without the help of mocap, not a lot of people can do that. If you are at such a level, providing that type of quality for a live-action movie, then you can go and bash mocap (but even then you shouldn’t, because who wants to be arrogant?). If not, then please be quiet.

    People forget why mocap is being used for and for what medium, and what the business reasons are for it (justified or not).

    Joe Schmoe can’t tell and doesn’t care – Happy Feet wasn’t succesful because it was mocapped, most people don’t even know what that technique is.

    But you know what? I don’t see anybody bragging about key-frame animation after having seen Sharktale. I’m sure most of the artists behind Sharktale are very talented. I’m saying “most” because someone had to be responsible for the shallow, stereotypical, manufactured end product. I’m sure it wasn’t the animator’s fault.

    Keyframed or mocapped animation doesn’t make a movie good. It’s the story, the characters, the pacing, the editing, the music, the sound, etc. etc. All these things have to work together.

    What if Michael Bay would direct a hand animated movie? I have my doubts that people would defend the movie because it was keyframed. People don’t like his style, the writing, the music, etc. Transformers wasn’t all mocap, most of it was hand animated from scratch. Does that mean the movie is going to be great because of that? No.

    [I do have to say though, I doubt Orson Welles could make the type of movie that Bay does. Not every great director can do great pop-corn, see Ang Lee.]

    End of rant.

  • c.tower

    I agree with that sentiment about “not every great director can do great popcorn”… but if you gave Orson Welles the same resources that Michael Bay has , he would’ve created a masterpiece. If you took those resources AWAY from Bay, and forced him to scrimp like Welles did for most of his career…well, I doubt ANYONE would line up to see THAT.(Not relevant to RATATOUILE, I know….but VERY relevant to animation in general, where many of our most talented artists fight the same struggles as Welles, while we have our equivalents to Bay working happily over at Dreamworks.)

  • Bill Field

    Disney has an uncanny ability to get back to that spotlight of greatness, consistantly, for 8 DECADES. I’m not a Disney enthusiast always, but, it seems like they’re down for a bit, then they pop out of the doldrums and produced a movie that appeals to EVERYBODY.

    If Jerry says it’s the best film of the year…period, I’m figuring, they’ve done it again!

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    to Bill – Just to clarify, I’m not saying its the “best film of the year” (though it could be), I was saying it’s the best of the summer. And I stand by that.

  • Hugh

    The sheer karma of Michael Bay directing a film called “F for Fake” would be sweet.

  • Josh

    Thanks to Matt and Jean-Dennis for their posts that’ll save me the trouble of typing a lot of the same things. :)

    I come from a keyframe background, but I’m working on a project that demands nearly an hour of realistic human animation in a very short timeframe. If I had a crew of 60 animators and two years, I’d certainly entertain the thought of keyframing the whole thing… but I’ve got less than a year and six animators, so if a “performance shortcut” like mocap can get our work more than halfway there to start with, I’m all for it.

    Ratatouille was great, BTW. Probably the best keyframed CG I’ve seen yet.

  • http://www.jeandenis.net Jean-Denis Haas

    Well said Josh. Not everybody has the man power and time to do everything by hand. It’s a bit unfortunate that Pixar tacked on that
    animation “disclaimer”. In a roundabout way they are saying that Happy Feet is not genuine animation and therefore doesn’t deserve the success it’s enjoying. So was all the water, fire, smoke, cloth, etc. done by hand as well? Didn’t think so. That disclaimer fits more at the end of an old school 2D Disney movie (and even there they rotoscoped things).

    Like I said, Ratatouille is fantastic because everything works well together, not because of keyframe animation alone (to me Monster House was more entertaining than Cars but not because of mocap
    ).

    There are decisions that certain characters make at the end of the movie that you would never see in a Dreamworks or Fox movie because they don’t follow the typical family formula. Even though Pixar has it’s own formula, they (or maybe just Brad Bird) still don’t (doesn’t) deliver processed entertainment like other studios. That’s what made the movie so great.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    Motion capture IS a viable solution for creating a performance, and in some situations is the only feasible solution. For instance, a sports game with thousands of animations needed of realistic athletes. Motion capture is a great solution for this type of project.

    While I was wasn’t a fan of the use of motion capture in “Happy Feet”, they did win the Oscar, and “Cars” did not. It would seem that maybe there are some sour, penguin flavored grapes in Emeryville?

  • http://www.travisgentry.com Travis Gentry

    I would be bitter too if Happy Feet won over Cars. While Cars wasn’t Pixar’s best, it was still head and shoulders over Happy Feet, which \only won because it dealt with global warming (the official Hollywood Issue of the Year). I think that will stand as one of the biggest gaffes ever when it comes to the Animated Feature category. If Pixar wants to rub in that it wasn’t ‘real’ animation, then I say more power to them. At least Pixar will get their due this year.

  • Jorge Garrido

    I am sick of people like Jean-Denis Haas playing the devil’s advocate and defending mo-cap. It’s not animation, it’s fancy puppetry! And screw what the general public likes, they’re idiots when it comes to good taste in animation. (Family Guy, anyone?)

    Kudos to Brad Bird and Pixar for daring to take a shot at a stupid practice. Kudos for having the courage to discriminate against animation retardation.

    This and Transformers. That’s my top two summer movies. Can’t wait.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    “Happy Feet, which \only won because it dealt with global warming”
    Oh please… how do you know? I know more people that preferred Happy Feet over Cars than the other way around. I personally have mixed opinions. Cars was much better made, much tighter, less messy, yet I had more fun during Happy Feet. And the zoo moment also grabbed me more emotionally than anything in Cars. I thought Cars was a good film, but I don’t mind Happy Feet winning, and I certainly wouldn’t put it on the Global Warming issue.

  • Gunther

    You are right, Benjamin. Happy Feet didn’t win because of the global warming issue. It won because George Miller is primarily a live action director and most academy voters are live action people. Pixar is keeping their creative edge but they must keep it visible to everyone, or else gold plated crap might win again.

  • http://www.ploechinger.blogspot.com Danny

    Though Kong was of a dull movie:

    The mocap of Andy Serkins, together with talented animators is a beauty to watch. I know the slapstick scene on the plateau was a bit sentimental / silly but it worked for me. I loved watching Kong, the close ups of his face, his eyes – in the movies world this was real to me. Touchingly real (not like the rest of the movie though!).

    Actors like Serkins and Doug Jones together with passionate and talented animators, directors etc. can create great characters, characters different to ones animated from scratch. It’s a different way of production for different needs and with different results, in no sense to be bashed at in a general matter. Though the movie was mediocre – i loved the monkey Kong! And no mater how trashy the new fantastic four is – Doug Jones is graceful to watch. The same with Davey Jones in Pirates 2 (not 3) – he beats any of the real actors with such an ease – and 100% mocap!

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ PCUnfunny

    In a roundabout way they are saying that Happy Feet is not genuine animation and therefore doesn’t deserve the success it’s enjoying. So was all the water, fire, smoke, cloth, etc. done by hand as well? Didn’t think so. That disclaimer fits more at the end of an old school 2D Disney movie (and even there they rotoscoped things).

  • Rat

    “Happy Feet, which \only won because it dealt with global warming�

    Hi Travis… um… did you SEE Happy Feet?

    Because I don’t recall it being about Global Warming at all.

    I remember the “environmental message” inasmuch as there was one, was about overfishing the oceans, not that the weather was changing.

    Anyway, it seems to me that maybe you weren’t paying attention to the film, if you indeed saw it.

  • Rat

    I laughed at that statement at the end of Ratatouille. I thought it was kind of an audacious “Pixar, F*** Yeah!” kind of self-triumphalism. But the cool thing about it was it really seemed to come right out of Brad Bird and his personality. So I liked it and give Brad his due props.

    But we all know that all animation is technical cheats, and to rag on someone else’s technical cheats as beneath you is a little unhumble, and a bit sour grapes.

    But it’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as Pixar.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Reminds me of Queen’s old “No synthesisers” disclaimer. :)

  • http://markmcdermott.com Mark McDermott

    OK, so “EW” didn’t like the movie because of its LACK of celebrity voices?

    Maybe Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifa were too busy screwing up every OTHER animated project in Hollywood to go to Emeryville.

    And much as I like Mike Meyers as Shrek, can anyone remember a single line that established an actual character for Cameron Diaz as Fiona?

    I can often judge the quality of an animated film by how early in the trailer the bring up the line “And featuring the voice talents of…”

    “Ratatouille” opens the weekend we head off for vacation. If the stars are aligned, we might just catch it at a drive-in along the way. Whee!

  • http://motiondesign.wordpress.com mark Webster

    Quote from Matt :
    “These people are falling into the kind of trap Brad Bird talks about when he says animation is not a genre – they confuse the execution/style with the worth which is like confusing the story/genre with the medium.”

    Could you please explain a little more about what you mean here Matt ?

  • http://www.jeandenis.net Jean-Denis Haas

    I’m sorry but computer animation is general is fancy puppetry and still not as hands-on and crafted as drawings. Jorge, did you ever work with mocap? If yes, how much tweaking was required after the mocap process on your projects? I don’t know about other projects but the ones I’ve worked on and witnessed needed immense hand tweaking of mocap data. There is this idea that people have that whatever the mocap guy does, ends up in the movie. Sorry to spoil the magic Danny, but most of Kong’s performance was hand animated. I think you count the mocap shots on one hand. And Davy was not 100% mocap. First of all the face was 100% keyframed and the on set mocap needed tons of fixing.

    Anyway, this debate can go on and on and on.

  • http://www.bigblurdesign.com Jay

    Happy Feet never mentioned global warming in any way whatsoever. It has nothing to do with the movie at all. I think it won Best Animated Film because of its heart, fun, and unexpected depth. I think Ratatouille is a shoo-in to do the same thing.

  • Chris

    Mo-Cap is exactly like Rotoscope. And it’s NOT animation. Too many times the general populace sees CG and thinks of guys in mo-cap suits thanks to MEDIA COVERAGE of films like Happy Feet (which actually only used it for the tap-dancing) and Polar Express which seems to focus on their mo-cap sessions. 100% genuine animation is a seal of quality.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    I agree with this quote about mocap from earlier in this thread: “There’s no artistry involved. No challenge. No from-the-gut struggle to make animation by hand.” That’s the problem with mocap… it sucks the heart out of it, that extra human artistic touch. No matter how much cleaning you have to do with mocap, I’d hardly call that the artistic part of the animation process. I’ve heard a very parallel thing mentioned once by an old cinematographer: he felt sad over the fact that much of the camera focus is done digitally these days. They used to have to be extremely careful, eg. when there’s a focus change from foreground to background. Now they just usually cut out the different planes in post and change focus. It works, and it might save a lot of money in some cases, so he doesn’t judge it for being used, but there’s a little bit of soul that has disappeared. And when he sees a film, he can tell whether it’s done manually or digitally. You and I might never notice it, but he does, and in a minute way, we can feel it. It’s the same with mocap… an uneducated audience might not notice it, but the difference, and the loss of some soul is there.

    However, I do feel mocap definitly has its place in human characters in live action films. If used properly.

  • Paul

    The Rotten Tomatoes rating means absolutely NOTHING right now – there are only 13 reviews in.

    Just wait until Friday, when all of the newspapers and other outlets get their hands on it. I guarantee it’ll drop.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com Robert

    To say there is NO artistry in Mocap is to say there is no artistry in human performance. It is a human, after all, that they are tracking. It’s a human performance with a layer over it, much like a dancer or a pantomimist in a costume. We don’t see them directly, but we see something they are directly moving. We wouldn’t tell all the performers in costumes and puppeteers in the Lion King stage play that they are not artists, would we?

    I’m sure the captured performance can be obscured further by poor practice and I’m sure it is possible to capture poor performances. I think the real problem is that using a live human performance may not be the right choice for most animation situations.

  • Rat

    Yeah, it’ll drop to somewhere around 98%.

  • Chuck R.

    Robert’s exactly right. Mocap is one of thousands of techniques that can be good or bad depending on how it’s put to use.

    You can’t disparage Mocap by pointing out the flaws in Polar Express and disparage it again because Kong wasn’t pure mocap. Yes, using mocap is like using rotoscoping, which can produce stilted characters like Fleischer’s Gulliver, or when used deftly (maybe sparingly) give an animator a leg-up on a difficult character like Cruella deVil.

  • Chris Olson

    Read Michael Barrier’s comments on mo-cap. What most animators do best is to filter movement down to its most essential elements, weeding out the unnecessary imbetweens. Extreme realism not only alienates the audience, it’s also not artful. Art is as much about what you leave out, as what you put in.

  • http://manuelap.livejournal.com/ Manuela

    I still haven’t see Ratatouille, here is not out yet, but coming soon.
    I need to see it, I love the Incredible DVD special included so I like Brad Bird Work. I love the trailer.
    I really want to see it myself!