1. Apikoros says

    You mean Bill Nighy wasn’t acting while wearing the full sushi tray on his head? Disappointing.

  2. says

    Hey! That’s my world! I understand this particular flavor of geek speak. This kind of MoCap (Motion Capture) is becoming more and more commonly used in visual effects work.

    Even though Davy Jones was a 3D animated character, note how it still took a human actor to provide the performance. No matter how good the software gets, how good the animation and rendering tools get, it will still require hunans to a) create the art in the first place, b) provide the raw performances and, c) provide the voice performances. In other words, we will still need artists and actors – humans – no matter how good the technology gets. In fact, where we once needed one person – the actor – for a character, we now need at least two – the artist (in reality, a number of artists and technicians) and the actor.

    BTW, lest you think all this is easy, think again. As you can tell from the text, achieving this level of photorealism is very, very difficult. In fact, you will note that they had to develop some in-house rendering tools in order to achieve that. It is amazing however that much of what they used was off-the-shelf software that anybody can purchase. I use Z-Brush myself and love it.

    All it takes is raw talent, years of practice, a great deal of patience, very powerful hardware, good animation, modeling, lighting, shading and rendering software, and a lot of technical know-how (not to mention all of the decades of science and research that went into creating all of this software and hardware) to create great, believable 3D animated characters.

  3. Mnemosyne says

    If you get out to Disneyland anytime soon, Davy Jones is featured in the new Jack-Sparrow-heavy version of the “Pirates of the Carribbean” ride. Not sure if they’ve re-done Florida in the same way.

  4. says

    I don’t know if you saw this posted on Boing Boing the other day, but oh my goodness I spent about an hour looking at the astounding work behind Davy Jones’ animation by Industrial Light and Magic:

    ILM Behind the Visual Effects, the Boing Boing post
    ILM, the website where you can find the ILM Pirates of the Caribbean film sequences

  5. craig says

    I was going to be really impressed until I found out it wasn’t makeup.

    Do that with makeup and you deserve a makeup oscar. And then sell a kit so I can wear it on halloween.

  6. Greco says

    No matter how good the software gets, how good the animation and rendering tools get, it will still require hunans

    So… they used one of Attila’s horsemen as a model for Davy Jones?
    Sorry, couldn’t help it…

  7. says

    (Disclaimer: I was one of the folks credited with tagging motion capture with the designation Satan’s rotoscope and participated in a 1997 SIGGRAPH panel debating its virtues, contrasting mo-cap with classical animation’s employment of rotoscoping and filmed live action reference)

    The virtue of Motion Capture is nearly an article of faith among its proponents. One among many cg tools, engineers are tempted to regard it as a panacea, like a favorite hammer that makes all problems look like thumbs. In its infancy, there was a drive to call it “performance animation” as if the problem of having to employ animators had been solved. Depending on the team and the character, sometimes you get Davy Jones, and sometimes you get Jar Jar Binks.

    Digital characters are a hugely collaborative medium, yet everybody wants their contribution to be the most important. With a director and live actor creating a character in an ensemble setting (think Andy Serkis as Gollum with hobbits) everyone’s acting is better than it would have been had they only been able to emote and make eye contact with a rubber ball or a cardboard cutout. Terrence Stamp refused to act with a cardboard Princess Amidala as required by George Lucas, and got himself written out of the next two Star Wars eps. The engineering achievement in Pirates 2 obviated the need for a separate stage and a separate performance to be captured, which could only be pulled off with brilliant compositing work.

    The performance of Davy Jones employed three approaches to movement. Mo-cap was one of them, but keyframing was tremendously important, along with parameterized, or physics based simulation. Davy Jones had nearly as many facial expressions and visemes blended as for Gollum, the result of more than mere “capture” of an expression.

    Of course actors are important, and so is voice work, but if the cumulative effect of the work is nothing more than radio with pictures (cough Simpsons) then I’d just as soon listen to radio.

    When an animation festival was held in honor of Walter Lantz at AFI in 1986, he shared the stage with Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney’s nine old men, and his wife Gracie Lantz, the voice of Woody Woodpecker. She grabbed the mike, and extolled the importance of her voice, and the bugle call laugh, and it began to sound as if she would never stop talking. Frank Thomas cut her off with a snarl– “Until they give you a character that doesn’t talk like Dopey.”

    Of course, anybody conversant in High Geek left the theatre humming the subsurface scattering and ZBrush work.

  8. Occam's Electric Razor says

    Hell yeah! If I were like Davy Jones, I could eat and play video games at the same time!

  9. Kyra says

    Thank you!

    I scrolled down, landed on the big image of Davy and just about lost it; you’ve utterly made my day here!


    Hell yeah! If I were like Davy Jones, I could eat and play video games at the same time!

    If you weren’t too busy getting laid. I know that’s what I’d be doing if I were Davy Jones, having two friends and several acquaintances who are utterly mad for him, to say nothing of myself.

    Geez, he’s let himself go since The Monkees…

    *snarl* *broadsword* Take. That. Back.

  10. says

    Let’s see if I can help a bit with the Geekspeak. The dots on the actos’s faces are reference points for motion capture, so that they can be sync’d up with computer-generated, 3-dimensional animation. Shading, textures, and sub-surface light scattering are used to add depth and realism to the model. After the model is created and the motion is defined in 3D, it takes a further huge computing effort to render it into a series of two-dimensional images that comprise the video.

    A CV is a control vertice, which helps to define a curve while not necessarily being on the curve. A point cloud is a very data-intense way of defining a shape, by defining the location and possibly the colour of every point in it; and of course it takes a lot of computing power to deal with each point. Ways to reduce the computing load are to go to a lower-resolution cloud or, better still, convert it to a geometrically defined shape with as few polygons as possible. A good texture disguises any lack of definition in a low-polygon figure. I hope that’s clear.

    Obviously, Davy Jones and his men were designed and rendered with loving care and lots of detail!

  11. Nona says

    Hey now, Ken. 2-D animation is a bit more that radio with pictures. There’s a lot of fantastic stuff that can be done with 3-D, but animation is only as good at the story behind it and the people bringing the story to life.

    I don’t think anyone can say that a mocap movie like The Polar Express, which parks itself in the Uncanny Valley for an hour and change, is somehow inherently better than any of Disney’s classic stuff, or a Looney Tune, or The Iron Giant– you know, *good* animation. Which the Simpsons, by the very nature of a TV production schedule, have a lot less time to be.

    2-D animators are very, very good at making lively, engaging characters, and they’ve had the better part of a century of practice. 3-D animators can certainly do that too, but there’s a tendency to assume that the increasing ability to make lifelike animation means the cartoon is dead, and that’s not so.

    (of course, having read your post a little closer, it looks like you’re an even bigger animation geek than I am, so I should probably hush. Still– I keep reading dopey articles about how 3-D is so much more expressive and blah blah blah, and I’m cranky. Sorry.)

  12. Jenay says

    well obviously he didnt have that on his head.. he didnt even wear the clothes they just made him on the computer but used his movement and voice as the character… and his eyes

  13. rebecca says

    Davy jones may be scary and filled with hatred but if u look at his eyes you realise hes a man and he has a soul!!!