14 August 2004

Polar Express and the Uncanny Trough

I just returned from SIGGRAPH 2004, and they were showing a bunch of clips from "Polar Express" in several events. Many people there were ooh-ing and aah-ing over it, and I was just puzzled. The footage they have from this film just looks completely unappealling to me (if you haven't heard about this film, it's a children's story where Tom Hanks, via facial & body motion capture, drives all the major characters).

In particular, Lance Williams, a CG industry veteran whom I respect, was talking about how Polar Express will really "change people's perceptions" of motion capture. If it does, I think it'll be for the worse. They had a number of videos simultaneously showing Tom Hanks' live performance and the rendered CG characters driven by the capture. To me, all that you learned by watching those video was how much more compelling the live performance was.

A friend quipped that "Polar Express" could be the American version of "Final Fantasy". The footage shown sure made it look that way.

No comments: