The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Brent F.
    August 27, 2007 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    Ugh… I hate motion capture animated films. They always look lifeless an dull.

    Also, I don’t understand the point of making a film animated if you’re just going to use the real faces of the actors. It is a waste of money, incredibly vain, and it exudes a lack of confidence in the selling power of the story.

    I definitely got a, “We’re not going to sell tickets without Angelina Jolie’s face on screen” vibe.

  2. Kienan
    August 27, 2007 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    What the hell did Grendels mom have to make love to for him to come out like that? When we had to make our own movie version of beowulf in high school, we certainly reimagine her as a beautiful goddess.

  3. Jim Perry
    August 28, 2007 at 11:36 am — Reply

    I’m curious why they chose to replace the actors with Digital Dopplegangers. I thought they did a phenomenal job, compared to say… a movie that is now a few years old… Final Fantasy, but even Final Fantasy was smart enough to make the actors look different.

    This is very high end work… not sure what the payoff is? Why not do it like 300, and just make everything besides the actors CG?

  4. Mark I.
    August 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm — Reply

    “This is very high end work… not sure what the payoff is?”

    Two things:

    1. Baby steps towards conquering the “Uncanny Valley” (ie the creepy coldness of CGI humans.) Yes, we have real humans if we need actors, but advances in CG are kind of a “because it’s there” conquest. I don’t think we’ll ever completely fool the eye, but we can come close.

    2. Improving the technology so that it becomes more intuitive and less cost-prohibitive.

    Although mo-cap stuff like Polar Express is limited and creepy, people like Zemeckis forsee a future where any story can be quickly realized in great detail with absolutely no limit to what they can depict on screen, big budget or no. Where a motivated creator with limited resources can get a flash of inspiration on a Monday and have a ninety-minute rough cut of an actual film nearly completed by Friday, the way an author can suddenly have a light bulb go off over his head and crank out a novel over a feverish weekend–and not just a digicam story of his friends running around in makeup, I mean it could be something like Monsters, Inc or Lord of the Rings, complete with dazzling effects and lush “location” visuals.

    Will CGI ever truly replace live action elements? Probably not in our lifetimes. But certain types of storytelling are slowly becoming easier. It’s not having Angelina Jolie or Tom Hanks pose for mo-cap cameras and painstakingly integrated as CGI elements on CGI backgrounds over the course of months or years that will be the end of the deal.

    It will be when a creator can select an actor as easily as a kid in front of a Playstation can pick a Tekken fighter, preprogram a general set of movements that the “avatar” can play out with a variety of random lifelike quirks, place them in customized environments, and have them “act” with only dialogue to be added later (or even faked immediately with a voice filter) that the future will be realized. When a kid can vividly recreate the Star Wars trilogy, or an issue of Batman, or whatever idea he comes up with in the space of a few days of work, using off-the shelf software and simple affordable tools, that’s the future. It’ll make YouTube look like cave paintings by comparison. We have simple graphics programs for general use, and things like the “The Movies” PC game, but I’m talking several hardware and software generations of improvements, things that will change creative thinking the way cell phones and text messaging changed how humans interact (for better or worse.)

    Remember, if it really seems that unrealistic, compare the video games of twenty five years ago to today…the beeps and boops of four-frame pixels running around a static board have been replaced by frightening recreations of hyper-reality. It’s a quantum leap like that that will justify even the creepiest glassy-eyed CG of the current generation. I hope I live to see and even use the kinds of tools future generations will have at their fingertips.

    Assuming, of course, we don’t accidentally melt the planet or anything…

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