The CGI Paradigm Shift

DDLand

Well-Known Member
This is a crucial step in the future of filmmaking. The ability to manufacture characters and environments digitally will reduce complexity and cost. More than that, it should speed production and allow for greater creative control by writers and directors. It should also reduce the stress of reshoots and editing. This is an important piece of the puzzle. Two other trends that are going to blow up filmmaking in our lifetimes...
1) Big data: Netflix is already experimenting with this. Netflix and Disney+ will be able to mine data from their users about what they like and what they don’t. They can track when users pause a movie, where they rewind, if users leave, what they binge watch, etc. Using big data will allow increasingly more targeted content to be launched. Disney will then be able to eliminate risk and uncertainty. Before he resigned, Meyer said that he wasn’t going to tell storytellers what to create based off of data. I think he’s lying. Iger’s Walt Disney Company hates risk. They will embrace data and storytellers will increasingly be guided by research.
2) AI: A couple decades away, but still super interesting. What happens when AI becomes sophisticated enough to write stories and stage movies designed for maximum customer satisfaction? What if, one day, AI could utilize tools like the one Disney is developing to write, shoot, and release films with limited human intervention? That’s a while away, but could be possible.

Hollywood will change more in the next couple decades than in its entire history. This is big.
Acting is the heart of television and film. When you remove that, the medium becomes hollow and cold. The human element gets removed. Regardless of whether this technique is efficient and financially successful or not, the movie industry will have changed for the worse upon its full implementation.
The “human element” can be replicated with extreme precision. Whether Disney’s technology works in 2020 is debatable. But would you bet against 2030 technology? Or what about 2040 technology? This will go mainstream. It’s a matter of when not if.
 

MisterPenguin

Rumormonger
Premium Member
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Similar to the Eisner tactic of hiring TV stars to anchor movies.
 

techgeek

Well-Known Member
Hollywood will change more in the next couple decades than in its entire history. This is big.

The “human element” can be replicated with extreme precision. Whether Disney’s technology works in 2020 is debatable. But would you bet against 2030 technology? Or what about 2040 technology? This will go mainstream. It’s a matter of when not if.

If I had told you only 20 years ago that you could shoot, edit, and release a film production instantly worldwide yourself using only a computer that happens to double as your phone and fits in your pocket...

The exponential growth in the tech is mind blowing. In 5 years, yes I believe we will mostly solve the uncanny valley. We already have in many instances where you could never be able to tell digital from reality.

In 15 years (and perhaps shockingly less), probably anyone who wants to will be able to recreate any actor from history, doing anything they want them to, convincingly, from their own devices at home. With permission or not. Won’t that be interesting?
 

Notes from Neverland

Well-Known Member
Uncanny valley is less of an issue with deepfakes these days

Deepfake can be very convincing. But, I'm not sure a feature length film using that in addition to CGI scenes will accomplish what WDW Pro mentioned when he said: "The goal is to test the waters of creating computer animated films indistinguishable from live action."
 

Ldno

Active Member
If i can tell you what happened with the whole Lifeless Lion king cgi, it will suck. The reason it didn’t work so well it was because they literally motion captured the animals to move their mouths as if they were talking as human beings which threw it completely off. Crispín Glover was on to something whenever he fought for this likeness, but i mean it wouldn’t be surprising to see movies head towards the cgi route as the gap bridging between realism and outdate cgi’s makes it king. But then again what do I know. Screen Actors Guild won’t do anything about it because the studio owns the actor’s likeness, they literally have no say it in.
 

keyframe

Member
The animation industry as a whole has been moving in this direction for quite a while. There’s already been numerous examples of de-aging actors such as Michael Douglas‘ Hank Pym in Ant Man to full digital assets like Jeff Bridges’ character Clu from Tron Legacy or Carrie Fisher (Leia) / Peter Cushin (Tarkin) from Rogue One. Every single recent Marvel movie uses a digital likeness of the actors for action scenes in some form or another. The game industry is already employing similar techniques with full digital likenesses of live actors such as Nathan Fillion (Gunnery Sergeant Buck) in Halo, Norman Reedus (Sam Porter Bridges), Mads Mikkelsen (Cliff Unger) and Guillermo del Toro (Deadman) in Death Stranding, or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 using Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand.

Uncanny valley has certainly played a factor in how much these techniques are employed on front line assets in the movies and is probably still the single biggest hurdle to overcome. We are all acutely adept at spotting even the slightest discrepancy in a digital asset’s performance. But the technology is rapidly advancing to combine an actors live facial or full body captured performances, and augmented by skilled animators, with their hyper realistic digital representations. Every movie they make and every actor they recreate brings the industry one step closer to perfecting and evolving the craft. And ultimately, the benefits are enormous. Primarily, studios can use digital assets for real-world actors, especially for difficult (age/availability) or dangerous (action) situations. But building on these techniques, they can create completely original, realistic (or beyond realistic - ex: Thanos) characters that are truly timeless while still employIng actors and animators to breath life into them using traditional acting and animation methods.
 
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larryz

Today's Maytag Repairman
Premium Member
The “human element” can be replicated with extreme precision. Whether Disney’s technology works in 2020 is debatable. But would you bet against 2030 technology? Or what about 2040 technology? This will go mainstream. It’s a matter of when not if.
Well, when Chris Haydenson and Portly Noodelman froze the screen in Star Wars -- The Fandom Menace and Star Wars -- We Are The Clones, I was convinced ILM had already figured out how to animate marionettes. I call it the "Reverse-Pinocchio" paradox -- how live actors can appear wooden and lifeless.
 
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GladToBeHear

Well-Known Member
It's already been done. And I think we can all agree that the effect is basically flawless.

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NoBreyner60

Active Member
Maybe I wouldn't mind if they did something like this if they could improve on what they did for Jeff Bridges on Tron Legacy. Maybe they could do a movie that happens five years after Return of the Jedi that uses a slightly aged Luke Skywalker that they can get Mark to do a voiceover. Maybe fill in gaps in movies where years between movies and the actors aging keeps a more smooth progression of a story without the jarring 20+ year gaps of time.
 

The Mom

Moderator
Premium Member
This has been an interesting topic - thank you @WDW Pro. I never knew that the creepy feeling I got while watching Polar Express actually has a name - uncanny valley. But I'm not a big movie tech fan so had not heard it before.

As someone mentioned, a generation that has grown up with this technology might not be bothered by it. Just as my parent's (and your grandparent's) generation was not as bothered by sound stages as mine is - especially for scenes in cars, water, etc.
 

keyframe

Member
Maybe I wouldn't mind if they did something like this if they could improve on what they did for Jeff Bridges on Tron Legacy. Maybe they could do a movie that happens five years after Return of the Jedi that uses a slightly aged Luke Skywalker that they can get Mark to do a voiceover. Maybe fill in gaps in movies where years between movies and the actors aging keeps a more smooth progression of a story without the jarring 20+ year gaps of time.

We got a very brief glimpse of this in Rise of Skywalker with the scene of Luke training Leia. I think we’ll definitely see more of that as the technology and techniques evolve.

The thing I really liked about Tron Legacy was that this was one of the few movies where a bit of uncanny valley actually worked in its favor, especially with Clu. Since he was a construct of the Grid anyway, it made perfect sense for him to appear the way he does. His slightly “off“ appearance next to Bridges and the other live actors also really played into his cold and flawed personality.

The only spot where the effect slightly broke down was at the beginning with the de-aged Bridges as Flynn speaking with his son. They did a really good job with framing and hiding full views of him for the most part. But the few full views contrasted with the real actor really emphasizes the uncanny valley effect. Even with that though, it was still a fantastic effects movie that really shows how far the technology and skills have come and the possibilities for where it can go.
 
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carolina_yankee

Well-Known Member
This has been an interesting topic - thank you @WDW Pro. I never knew that the creepy feeling I got while watching Polar Express actually has a name - uncanny valley. But I'm not a big movie tech fan so had not heard it before.

As someone mentioned, a generation that has grown up with this technology might not be bothered by it. Just as my parent's (and your grandparent's) generation was not as bothered by sound stages as mine is - especially for scenes in cars, water, etc.

I used to be bothered by soundstage for outdoor scenes. Lately, having re-watched some of the older movies, they don't bother me. They are part of their charm. Of course, I'm sadly barely still middle-aged, either. I would like to think a great story well-filmed doesn't need CGI. Super-Hero/Fantasy Stuff is different, but I doubt I would warm up to a CGI standard drama.
 

doctornick

Well-Known Member
This has been an interesting topic - thank you @WDW Pro. I never knew that the creepy feeling I got while watching Polar Express actually has a name - uncanny valley. But I'm not a big movie tech fan so had not heard it before.

As someone mentioned, a generation that has grown up with this technology might not be bothered by it. Just as my parent's (and your grandparent's) generation was not as bothered by sound stages as mine is - especially for scenes in cars, water, etc.

To be honest, the "uncanny valley" doesn't bother me with stuff like Rogue One where I think it's actually pretty well done and effective (I know others greatly disagree, just saying that it affects different people differently). I think it works in small quantities and has indeed been improving over time.

But I actually can't stand it when it is that animated-esque style in entire films like Polar Express. I find it unwatchable. I remember being very excited to hear that there was going to be a Beowulf movie and didn't pay any attention to the advertisement for it as I enjoy the epic poem. I went and saw that movie that came out a decade ago or so and was shocked and disgusted that it had the motion capture animated style for the people. Istillto this day don't understand why they did it that way when a traditional movie with special effects would have been fine.
 

Piebald

Well-Known Member
Also, this doesnt surprise me. People who play video games know how good the tech has come in a relatively short period of time. If theyve mastered the ability to create the animations without the mo-cap step being necessary you can have voice actors working from their house and animators creating incredible scenes.

Dont forget Toy Story 2 was almost deleted if not for someone having a backup on their own computer. Now people have the ability to have the back up on their phone
 
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