where is cgi going?

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by ghost_dog, May 7, 2002.

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  1. ghost_dog Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2002
    star 1
    Does anyone else think that within the next 5-10 years we will see a fully made cgi film with digital actors, backgrounds, props and everything? If so then will people accept it?
  2. Mogook Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2001
    star 4
    I think that's what Final Fantasy was.
  3. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Well Final Fantasy was a bit stylized. And while Sony might have promoted it that way many people from Square Pictures said that it was not their intent to make a film to pass for the real thing.

    Probably one day someone will try it, just because it's a challenge. But in general terms it'sa bit impractical. Even if you save on paying an actor, you would still have to pay for an army of technicians and artists to create a character. Also you don't get the spontaniety of real people interacting. Say an actor adlibing or saying filming a shot 20 differenet times to get different performances or or the interaction between thespians.

    If it's ever done I think it would be accepted as long as the story and performances were good, but for the most part we can't even get that in live action movies, so I won't hold my hopes up.

    Actually just to look where CGI is going just take a look every year at SIGGRAPH. There are many exciting fields and developments. Over the last few years there has been a tremendous amount of effot to do non-photorealistic rendering, to make CG look actually like hand drwn or painted objects. The possibilities are enourmous.
  4. PaDmE-GuRl Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 8, 2002
    star 3
    I think eventually CGI people will replace real ones so we wouldn't need actors anymore.
  5. Laserschwert Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2001
    star 3
    No, CG-people will NEVER replace real actors. There are two simple reasons for it: time, and resulting from that, money. It takes much too long modeling a human CG-character, instead you could just get an actor through casting. And, as most CG-artists of today say (I got this from John Knoll, VFX-supervisor at ILM) it would be too costly to be efficient enough. They might get a life-like performance from a CG-actgor, yeah, probably they will. But at which cost? Animating a single scene would take as long, as shooting an entire film with real actors!
  6. ghost_dog Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2002
    star 1
    but what if computers get so powerful that they do alot of the scene rendering themselves based upon mathemetical and organic growth models?

    might seem far off.. but what im always thinking is what if u had a chance to show someone who just walked out of the 1977 premier of starwars the future movie attack of the clones (in the year 1977), they would say impossible and it would blow their minds - just as this concept does to you.
  7. Laserschwert Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2001
    star 3
    Well, you've got a point there... but what about the actors themselves? What would they think about getting unemployed? There will still be theater-pieces or musicals, that will be performed on stages. A lot of those actors get into the movie business. What about them not being allowed to, because real actors are not needed?

    Concerning your idea of showing the effects of today movies to the people of 1977... in the book "Industrial Light & Magic - The Art of Special Effects" from 1985, there's a passage about digital effects. And the last sentence was like "In the future computers might be used to simplify the process of special effects, but that will still take a while...". When I read that (I got the book about 2 years ago) a grin came across my face... it's like the people from the 60s saying "In the future computers will be twice as powerful and ten times as big as they are today...".
  8. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Well some of those points are rather esoteric and besides the point. Yes computers will get more powerful. But I wouldn't count on it, we're still far off ways. Not long ago we thought that by now we would have permanent lunar colonies or explored Mars. We are still farther away from something like HAL9000.

    Besides there is more to it than rendering speed. You might ernder whole environments fast and realistically but crafting a performance takes time no matter. The more power there is the more complex the scenes get to bring machines down to their knees. An actor can try more iterations and subtle performance changes in an hour than any crew would be able to do.

    I've also heard Dennis Muren quoted that he is not interested in doing CG humans to pass for real, and many in the industry feel the same. The point or tradition of VFX is to do things that cannot be filmed or done either practically or cheaply.

    As far as the time jump example it depends who you would have shown it too and also how would he take it. I would speculate that if you showed it to Ed Catmull, his jaw would drop but he would definately think it was very possible (after all it was his goal since even before SW). An unsophisticated viewer might not think much of some stuff. He would think that sets would have been controcted, instead of been composited, besides many people back then thought computers were kinda intelligent. It's not like massive epic movies were non-existent though the methods for making them were not the same.

    It may happen one day, but I wouldn't count it on my lifetime.
  9. Hooperx Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2000
    star 1
    It was cheaper to totally CGI Jar-Jar Binks than it was to just CGI the head of Jar-Jar onto an actors body. Interesting....
    It cost less to make Final Fanstay the move than it is costing to make Terminator 3... Interesting...
    A couple of years ago they said a movie done in total CGI was impossible, then Toy Story came out... Interesting...
    Will actors be replaced? Probably not for some time seeing how the Unions will come into play.
  10. Laserschwert Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2001
    star 3
    The thing with the fully CG-JarJar didn't mean, that it was easier to animate him, than letting an actor play the role. The reason was that because of the infinite iterations of a human performance (in this case Ahmed Best in the Jar-Jar costume), it wasn't possible to let the CG head keep up with it, without more time being invested into the process. This again gives the "real" actor the pro-argument.
  11. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    But you are omitting some details for comparison.

    1. Cheaper to do a whole JarJar becasue the other besides animating the head you would still have to track it to a live action actor, erase his head and of course paint out and paint in stuff from the background as oppose to just having a clean plate.

    2. And how much is Arnold taking as salary 20 million at least, I think I heard 25 milion. That's the entire FX budget for good size VFX shows. Besides Arnold how much money is taking above the line people (the director Mostow, other actors, producers, you know Vajna and partner will take a chunk, screenwriter, etc.). I'm sure if you take that number out the numbers are more comparable. I've also herd of Sony and Square hiding the actual cost. Those the cost of building up the studio in Hawaii cost against the film budget? The vFX budget of Ep. 1 was what? about half, which turns out t be about 65 million also a very favorable number against the Final Fantasy budget. Also look at the other factor Final Fantasy and other years take years to develop (didn't FF take like 5 years?), a lot more than actual movie productions (excluding development hell).

    3. Poeple who said CG movies were impossible were mainly people saying if they would be viable on the market. The real persons doing the work didn't think it was impossible. Ed Catmull and many others have wanted to make animated movies for many years before Toy Story, Catmull even back to his pre-Lucasfilm days. Many places did CG shorts and some are really great. Just see an early example by the Pixar guys when they were part of Lucasfilm with Andre and Wally B. Blue Sky Studios (the makers of Ice Age) did Bunny and won an Oscar for it though the film took like 10 years to make. PDI also did many CG shorts before Antz. It was the studios who were afraid CG movies would not be accepted by the viewing public. Nowadays it's still difficult to get them made because of that. ILM and many other houses want to make animatyed films but without a distribution deal it would almost be impossible (the only ones that do have deal or are even owned by studios: Pixar, PDI, Blue Sky, and Imageworks). CG movies were a matter of when, not if.

    To me it boils down that it's for the most part not practical. It's just orders of magnitude easier to shoot hours of film of an actor that to create one minute of a believable CG human. Someone will probably succeed one day. It's just a studios people dream to be able to control an actor who doesn't complain or ask for a paycheck. Better let CG do characters which are not real and can't be done by people.
  12. Laserschwert Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2001
    star 3
    Well, that's exactly what I ment. I just simplified the whole idea for my writing-pleasure. :D

    Other than that I absolutely agree with you.
  13. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    And I should write more to the point ;-). There were some demos at SIGGRAPH of digital face replacements that were quite amazing the last coupe of years ago. I'll try to find the references. In the meantime check the latest Wired.
  14. Laserschwert Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2001
    star 3
    I've seen some stuff about face-replacement in the first book about Digital Domain, "Digital Domain - The Leading Edge of Visual Effects". They created a music video with the young James Brown. So they let the "old" James Brown come in and do his facial acting for the song, they recorded it via facial capturing, and put those expressions on a CG-head representing a younger version of him. Then they recorded a stand-in doing the appropriate dance-moves for the song, and finally they put the CG-head upon the stand-ins body. I haven't seen the video, but the photos in the book looked really impressing. They said matching the head to the actor was the most difficult part, because he DANCED. There was a lot of 360-deg spinning involved, so that the face had to look good from ANY angle.
  15. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Yeah I saw a presentation by some folks of DD about the James Brown project at SIGGRAPH 2000. It was quite impressive and very well done. There was also an article about it that appeared on CGW, I'll see if I find it.

    Also that year a company called LifeFX had a video at SIGGRAPH called Young at Heart where they replaced the face of the young actress with one of her as an old human. Very well match moved. Took me a little while to realize what was done. Unfortunately they on't have it anymore on their website but I found a reference:

    Character Animation at SIGGRAPH 2000

    I wonder what things this year will bring.
  16. Jabachile Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2001
    star 4
    I only think CGI is good for some backgrounds: window shots, space shots, etc; duplication; SOME alien characters; action scenes.

    You need real actors and at the very least 10% tangible set. I'd prefer at least 60% tangible, it looks so much better!
  17. R2_UNIX Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2002
    I heard about this Al Pachino film coming out in which his lead actress quits, so they computer animate her and no one notices
  18. skrutop Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 1
    I highly doubt that R2. First off, if we can notice that Anakin riding on top of the big ugly thing on Naboo, and Dooku in the beginning of the Dooku/Obi-wan fight in AOTC are CGI, then we'd notice a lead actress in a Pacino as CGI.

    In the grand scheme, reshooting all of the scenes with a new actress would cost a LOT less, and take a lot less time to do than to create another Dr. Aki from Final Fantasy for that one role.

    Now, will CGI ever actors take over for the real thing? Nah. It's not too out there for studios to make CGI characters for Sci-fi and blockbuster type movies. We expect those movies to pass the boundaries of possibility. No one is going to care if CGI looks like CGI in Star Wars. It's when CGI looks like reality that we get excited. Dramas, thrillers, comedies...these movies derive their sucess by the breadth of emotion that only a real flesh-and-blood actor can provide. Are there some actors that CGI could replace and be better? Sure, there are a lot. But people won't accept Shakespeare without it being a real person. Even if CGI could get so real that we couldn't tell, we'd still rather see real people doing those types of roles. Actually, I think what we really like about CGI is when it takes a real person and makes them larger than life. We all get excited when a Jedi whips out a lightsaber; we get excited when Spider-Man drops a hundred feet onto a moving car, etc. Essentially, we like to see the same stuff that we did before CGI, when they used models, and stop-motion animation. CGI just makes it that much more believable and real. It takes it up a notch.

    I personally liked Final Fantasy for what it tried to accomplish. It really pushed the boundaries out. However, I caught it on HBO, and seeing it again reminded me that it just wasn't that good of a movie, no matter how much I wanted it to be. If that movie was to be the stepping stone for totally "real" CGI, it unfortunately set them back years because it did so poorly at the box office. If it'd done well, we'd see 5 of those types of movies coming out in the next few years; each bigger and "more real" than the next.
  19. rpeugh Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2002
    star 4
    I think us and our children will be long dead before that happens. As good as Final Fantasy looked, you can still tell that those humans were digitally created. Its much easier to tell the difference between a real human and a cgi human than it is to tell the difference b/t a costume Alien and a cgi alien. Also, right now, cgi is too expensive. There is no reason in the world to create a human when you can just use actors. It costs 10 times the amount of money to create a cgi human than it does to just use an actor. Lucas said it himself. Today, moviemakers only use cgi if they can't find any other way to create the scene they want to create. For instance, Yoda had to be computer generated in AOTC because obviously you can't have a puppet fight. In TPM he didn't need to be computere generated b/c all he did was sit and talk.
  20. weezer Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2001
    star 6
    I'm going to have to agree with most people here and say that you will never see full length CGI movies that attempt to be real.

    I just don't think thats what people want to see (as was seen in FF dismal showing in the box office). Yes Sci Fi movies are using it to its fullest. Look at AOTC and SS upcoming Minority Report (really looking forward to this) you could of never of done this stuff without CGI. Still I think they need the live action actors.

    Anyways for other movies it just does make sense for some movies. Why would you ever have a CGI period piece or romance. I really couldn't see people going to watch two CGI characters fall in love.
  21. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Skrutop, actually R2 Unix is right. That's the premise of his latest movie, it doesn't mena that that's what actually was done. The movie is called Simone, or actually S1m0ne (or Sim-One, get it ;-).

    The "CG" actress in the movie is for the most part played by a real actress, it's kind in the vain of Max Headroom (or a bit like Wag the Dog). Seems a few shots might actually be the actress cyberscanned and then animated but it's obvious it's CG, and not CG passing for real.

    Looks interesting though.
  22. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Unlocked and 'upped' to prevent re-autolocking, as part of the LFP Index project
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