Monday, November 26, 2007

Madame Tutli Putli & Performance Capture

Continuing on the subject of the threshold between having character and being a character (as well as the emotional connection that determines what we perceive as a character), Madame Tutli Putli is a really neat example of a mixed media character design. This is a stop-motion film, but the eyes of the main character were composited in from footage of a live actor who was recorded after the animation. The result is a very unique, often creepy, look.

This process is a unique form of performance capture in which the performance occurs only after the animation, and is probably why this film has avoided the controversy that typically surrounds optical motion capture such as Beowulf.

But in a sense, Madame Tutli Putli is much closer to reality than optical motion capture, simply because there are no markers, but the actual actor footage is used. Moreover, the eyes are arguably the most important component of facial animation. Certainly, the footage is used very creatively, but there are a lot more adjustments and tweaks to the data in the optical mocap pipeline.

One key difference lies in the role of the animator. In Madame Tutli Putli, the animator's performance drives the actor's contribution, whereas in typical mocap productions, it is the actor's performance that is most important. A subtle difference, but one that appears to be central to the mocap debate.

No comments: