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The Mike Toole Show - Done with Computers


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_V_



Joined: 13 Apr 2009
Posts: 616

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:31 pm Reply with quote
Was there anything even *remotely* related to the "Final Fantasy" video game franchise in "Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within"? Other than the director I mean.

Or was it blatantly, shamelessly just slapping the name of a video game franchise onto an unrelated movie that happened to be produced by the same company?

sort of like if Paramount cranked out a new movie titled "Star Trek: The Spirits Within" that was about Harry Potter-esque ghosts and goblins?
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classicalzawa
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 4952

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:41 pm Reply with quote
I'm personally not a fan of the CGI look in anime. I feel like anime already has its own identity with the 2D stuff, why do they need to make the characters 3D?

But I did enjoy Freedom, which went for the cel shaded look. Yeah, it took some getting used to, but I also enjoyed the story, so i was worth the endeavor. But I did notice that the motor-vehicle races seemed....slow and I got the feeling that had they been 2D animated, they would've had a feeling of rush to them (look at Redline for example, which I think was entirely hand drawn, though obviously colored with computers as is common today, which I have no problem with). Which isn't to say it's impossible to do races using CGI cars and have them feel fast, just look at Oban Star Racers. But I just don't think Japan has quite gotten it yet, as Oban's CGI was done in France and the 2D stuff was done in Japan. So there is room for improvement, that's for sure.
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dm



Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 208

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:41 pm Reply with quote
Mike! I think you should have mentioned:

Kakurenbo -- a small-studio effort that solved the problem of lousy-CGI-facial-expressions by having the characters wear masks (or be statues brought to life). I thought it was a nice little short (and better than many of the things you did mention). It was even released here.

Pale Cocoon, Mizu no kotoba -- (or am I wrong about this counting as CGI?), earlier works from the creators of Eve no Jikan.

You did mention Malice@Doll which I found more tolerable than most because it reminded me a lot of the films by Jan Svankmajer or the Brothers Quay.
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Anime World Order



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 354
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:44 pm Reply with quote
I think the key problem with 3D CG anime is best summed up as follows: as I read this article, I felt inclined to go back and read my own writeup on the subject from back in 2008, when it dawned on me that...it's been 4 years and they still have many of the same problems that they've had 8 years ago, which were the same as 10 years ago, and so on.

I can boil it down to two things. The first is that when it comes to integrating 3D CG with "regular" animation, many anime production companies still don't seem to understand that having a "full animation" (24-30 frames per second) CG model in a "limited animation" world makes it jut out and look totally out of place. We're about to get a new Initial D anime, and something tells me that after all these years they still aren't going to remedy this. I'm sure "it's a feature, not a bug" syndrome has crept in on that one by now, but to most people here that aren't already fans it just makes the animation look bad.

The second is that the "solution" they sometimes take for the above situation is to employ the same animation shortcuts that one would take in 2D and LOWER the framerate of the CG to match! I understand that's what they opted for in the upcoming Berserk movies, but I haven't seen those yet. That just NEVER looks good in CG animation, and the most mystifying is when they try and pull that move on projects that are entirely in CG to begin with. This one is why Romanov Higa's CG work looks so freaking weird and the animation looks so jerky.

At least it's getting better. My main gripe over Advent Children and many of its successors is that objects and people felt "floaty" and seemed to lack weight or heft. I actually thought Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker was a major improvement in this regard, despite some obvious budgetary shortcuts (why hide mouth movements so much when there are two separate renders per language anyway?). Inertia was a force present in that film's animations, so hits had impact. Still, I feel as though feature-length 3D CG anime is by and large way behind even what is getting done as far as all-CG US TV productions are concerned, and I'm not sure if anyone over there realizes it's because of flaws inherent to their execution instead of thinking "that's just because we don't have the budget of Disney/Dreamworks/Lucasfilm/etc."


Last edited by Anime World Order on Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Greed1914



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 1416

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:46 pm Reply with quote
_V_ wrote:
Was there anything even *remotely* related to the "Final Fantasy" video game franchise in "Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within"? Other than the director I mean.

Or was it blatantly, shamelessly just slapping the name of a video game franchise onto an unrelated movie that happened to be produced by the same company?

sort of like if Paramount cranked out a new movie titled "Star Trek: The Spirits Within" that was about Harry Potter-esque ghosts and goblins?


Pretty much option 2. I would certainly agree with Mike that Advent Children is what Final Fantasy fans were probably looking for from Spirits Within.




I really enjoyed this article since I find it interesting how CG is basically the go-to for American animated movies, but it's still fairly uncommon in Japan. Also, thanks for reminding me about Catblue Dynamite, Mike! I totally forgot that I ever watched that.


Last edited by Greed1914 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 12654
Location: NZL

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:47 pm Reply with quote
Actually, Planzet's story was gratingly weak. For example, we are supposed to believe that spoiler[the massive base where humanity's ultimate superweapon is stored is only staffed by six people.] The only good thing about it were the visuals and Mamoru Miyano.
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bj_waters



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:48 pm Reply with quote
What do you mean, "like Titan A.E., only good"??? I freakin' LOVED Titan A.E. Then again, I liked Vexille and Spirits Within as well, so who am I to talk. (Seriously though, the only major flaw with Spirits is that it had "Final Fantasy" in the title and marketing. I really believe if they had forgone that approach and tried to sell it on its own merits, it would have done better.)

As for the topic, I think its kind of hard to try and judge Japan's efforts in 3D animation because they haven't been doing it very often or for very long. In America, I know that we've been putting them in movies at least since the 80s (Young Sherlock Holmes, anyone?) while Japan has been more content to stick to the hand-drawn style for so long (perhaps due to the ubiquitous nature of manga; or in other words, cultural differences). While it may make sense that Japan has been doing a LOT of 3D animation for video games, there really is a difference between an over-the-top cutscene and a full-length movie.

To be honest (and this is my opinion), the linchpin to nailing 3D animation is to not get carried away with realism. I would argue that a good chunk of Pixar and Dreamwork's success has to do with the fact that they know they are still working in animation, so they're willing to let their characters and worlds be cartoony in some way. Most of Japanese 3D anime you've mentioned seems to be mired by trying to recreate or imagine a realistic world, resulting in something that ironicly looks stiff and unnatural (the uncanny valley as you mentioned). If the Japanese 3D CG guys can figure out a way to translate their manga heritage into a plausible 3D world without terribly bizarre proportions or other distracting hiccups, they could stand toe to toe with anyone.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of 3D animation: When on earth am I going to be able to watch a feature-film-length cutscene from Blizzard! EVERY SINGLE TIME I watch one of their trailers, my jaw drops to the floor. They totally understand how to match the detail of realism with a slight cartoonishness that makes their characters instantly relatable. Seriously, go watch their new trailer for the Mists of Pandaria and tell me you wouldn't want to watch 90 minutes of that! (And don't just say "Dreamworks already made Kung-Fu Panda, Hurr Durr"; you know what I'm talking about.)
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penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
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Location: Penguinopolis

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:13 pm Reply with quote
Oblivion Island looks horrific. I mean, really, really bad. Maybe it's charming and has a good story, but from the visuals I've seen in the trailer, it's like Mr. Stain on Junk Alley bad.

Appleseed's visuals held up for about a year. I liked the movie but now every time I watch I can't help but giggle at the awkwardness.

Honestly, Japan should just stick to more traditionally rendered animation (or as close to that they do these days), even if they use CG elements from time to time, and leave 3D CGI to people who can actually do it.

Like these experts.
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Cecilthedarkknight_234



Joined: 02 Apr 2011
Posts: 3483
Location: Louisville, KY

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:25 pm Reply with quote
penguintruth wrote:
Oblivion Island looks horrific. I mean, really, really bad. Maybe it's charming and has a good story, but from the visuals I've seen in the trailer, it's like Mr. Stain on Junk Alley bad.

Appleseed's visuals held up for about a year. I liked the movie but now every time I watch I can't help but giggle at the awkwardness.

Honestly, Japan should just stick to more traditionally rendered animation (or as close to that they do these days), even if they use CG elements from time to time, and leave 3D CGI to people who can actually do it.

Like these experts.


why did i click on that link.. just why..???
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consignia



Joined: 06 Jul 2011
Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:34 pm Reply with quote
No mention of gdgd fairies? It looked crappy, but if it wasn't damn funny.
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belvadeer



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 2047

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:36 pm Reply with quote
_V_ wrote:
Or was it blatantly, shamelessly just slapping the name of a video game franchise onto an unrelated movie that happened to be produced by the same company?


Pretty much this. It's sad when you have to use a popular name brand to garner attention to something that has nothing to do with the source material. I mean really, putting a Cid in does not even begin to cover all the steps.

As for my answer to Mike's question, no, I find CG to be a copout. Sure it's taken huge leaps from what it used to be, but I find it can never be a substitute for hand-drawn work (example: Boobanauts would have been marginally better if the dragons were drawn rather than CGed, same goes for Dragon Drive). On the other hand, Appleseed and Advent Children are both good examples of doing it very right.

CG scores really low on my list of entertainment medium styles. Companies have to really polish it to make it something people would invest time into watching.
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infiltration.cru



Joined: 28 Jan 2012
Posts: 321

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:45 pm Reply with quote
I think that- along with the "2D shortcuts" already mentioned by Daryl above- one of the biggest problems is the absolute lack of life within the faces of characters. I had a short period where I would rent every goddamn CG anime they had at the video rental shop(yes, CG is apparently also an "instant licensing button" for German companies as well) and almost all of them looked to me as if someone shot a movie with an ensemble of lifeless dolls.

Whenever characters are supposed to display some kind of emotion, it just looks f**king horrid. The few action figures I used to own as a kid looked way more real to me than anyone I have so far seen in any CG anime. It's the same effect that the latest edition of the Star Wars trilogy(only one exists) had on me: by replacing hand made models and stuff with CG models (wtf George Lucas?) they drained all the charm from the scene. And just like that, CG anime simply fails to have any charm for me, anything emotionally compelling.
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Echo_City



Joined: 03 Apr 2011
Posts: 1236

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:04 pm Reply with quote
infiltration.cru wrote:
I think that- along with the "2D shortcuts" already mentioned by Daryl above- one of the biggest problems is the absolute lack of life within the faces of characters. I had a short period where I would rent every goddamn CG anime they had at the video rental shop(yes, CG is apparently also an "instant licensing button" for German companies as well) and almost all of them looked to me as if someone shot a movie with an ensemble of lifeless dolls.

Whenever characters are supposed to display some kind of emotion, it just looks f**king horrid. The few action figures I used to own as a kid looked way more real to me than anyone I have so far seen in any CG anime. It's the same effect that the latest edition of the Star Wars trilogy(only one exists) had on me: by replacing hand made models and stuff with CG models (wtf George Lucas?) they drained all the charm from the scene. And just like that, CG anime simply fails to have any charm for me, anything emotionally compelling.
My sentiments exactly; +1.

The doll-like faces and bodies (especially with female characters), combined with the clunky frame-skipping animation, is just a deal-breaker for me with anime CG. I will be getting a copy of Starship Troopers: Invasion, but only for the dub. Maybe the visuals will be more than tolerable, but I don't know. The trailer doesn't get my hopes up.

I also have to wonder why Titan AE is considered so abhorrent, I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Spirits Within. Wink

Even now, Japanese CG doesn't seem to be as detailed as it could be nor does it truly "blend" with the 2d stuff. The CG fights in Fate/Zero were extremely off-putting for me due to this. Rare is it that an anime series employs CG without jarring me out of my immersion in the series. It's like someone hits me in the face with a pillow every time the CG comes up and doesn't jibe with the 2d work: it doesn't hurt, but it is quite annoying and I can't see the show through it.

I don't understand why in 100% CG scenes the stuttering animation persists. I watched Starship Operators recently (Ocean has an actor who sounds eerily like the late Mike Kleinhenz in that..) and the CG spaceship movement is ludicrously jerky. I thought that the whole point of CG in animation was that it allowed for fluid motion on the cheap as every frame wouldn't have to be drawn by hand.

Panning a virtual camera around a 3d model shouldn't have to drop frames to save money, so why does it?
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malvarez1



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 715

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:04 pm Reply with quote
Man. I haven't even heard of most of these titles.

The first Final Fantasy film was so boring. Advent Children was pretty good though.

I actually saw the Tekken film in theaters, and while it wasn't a good film, I kind've liked it.
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infiltration.cru



Joined: 28 Jan 2012
Posts: 321

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:06 pm Reply with quote
malvarez1 wrote:
I actually saw the Tekken film in theaters, and while it wasn't a good film, I kind've liked it.


I know the feeling. I mean, I absolutely like Garzey's Wing. Thanks, AWO. And Mike Toole.
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