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Final Fantasy - CGI flaws noticed


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#1 of 13 Eric Huffstutler

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Posted October 22 2001 - 05:54 PM

Having not seen it at the theater, I am one who bought Final Fantasy sight unseen. I was interested in the ground-breaking CGI of human characters after viewing some early shots.

I started noticing flaws in individual character's CGI with the cover of Yahoo Magazine. Some of the same problems I saw exist in Dinosaur, especially with flesh to flesh contact (or lack of it due to a floating appearance).

Take for instance when Aki's hand touches her face. When someone's hand touches their skin, the skin shifts, stretches, and the fingertips sink into it. Not here... all you see is a hand which apears to be floating just above it.

Some characters were more believable than others. Body language, arms, hands, and even head movements seemed to be overly exaggerated as though they were trying to show off their CGI skills in every frame of the shot?

Aki was plastic in several ways. Her hands looked as though they had latex gloves on them (lacked texture) and her suit was too rigid. The hair swings were delayed or not fast enough as though it was weighted down, in slow motion, and overly animated. This was very distracting! The eyes were too big and in profile, looked flat. The skin was extremely pale and with such pale skin, you would see veins, but none showed.

Doctor Sid's character was more convincing but his upper lip was too stiff which gave him an "animated" look while speaking.

The Jane and Neil characters were the least convincing to me as though not enough time or same level of detail went into them. In many scenes they looked like video game characters (blockish and cartoonist) and Jane's mouth never seemed to be in sync or articulated enough. Both talked as though their voice was dubbed over on a foreign film.

Gray was better 90% of the time but he too looked un-natural in some scenes, especially with 3/4 facial shots.

General Hein had the same problems where he looked better in some shots than others. His bottom lip seemed to fall too far below his bottom teeth when talking though.

Both of the black characters were of the better quality. The mouth and facial expressions on Council Member #1 moved more natural than any of the other main characters and believe the design team should learn from this character's artist in that respect.

Council Member #2 on the other hand was the worst of all and looked like she was talking through a face mask.

Three final things that bugged the hell out of me and the first is that everyone has a false teeth "horse smile". The dental structure was too wide and was the same on every character, the lips did not slide tightly against the teeth, all were dark or heavily outlined, and drawn too perfect. When the mouth was an issue in the first place, this only accentuated the problems.

The second is that the characters were not genetically correct. Sure, the women had breast that never bounced or shifted, but men had no sign of a bulge. Even when their spirits left their body staked naked, they were built like Ken dolls. Even a vague outline would have been more realistic. Jane's nipples were inconsistant in scenes wearing the same tank top. Sometimes they showed through and sometimes they didn't.

The last is that you never saw perspiration beads on their faces or foreheads even though their shirts were wet from it.

Don't get me wrong here. I totally understand that this is a first attempt to pull off anything like this and the character's body movements were quite natural and the overall look (when not speaking) was realistic. I am just wondering if other people noticed the same flaws that I did... and maybe the studio will also take note?

I believe with work on facial expressions, mouth movement, and hair movement, flesh and blood actors may have something to worry about!

Just my $1.98 worth Posted Image

[Edited last by Steven Page on October 23, 2001 at 01:22 AM]

#2 of 13 Sean Oneil

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Posted October 22 2001 - 06:38 PM

Well you can definitely tell that it is animation, that's for sure ...but it is technically the best yet.



[Edited last by Sean Oneil on October 23, 2001 at 01:38 AM]

#3 of 13 Greg Robertson

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Posted October 22 2001 - 06:58 PM

Perhaps you went into it expecting to not be able to tell that these were cg characters. Well, there was a lot of hype about that... I suppose that could leave you feeling a little underwhelmed.
I agree with Sean in that this is the best human CG I've seen yet. Or at least that I know of.. Maybe Tom Hanks has been a computer generated effect all this time. Posted Image

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#4 of 13 TimW

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Posted October 22 2001 - 07:27 PM

Quote:
Well you can definitely tell that it is animation, that's for sure ...but it is technically the best yet.

Well, not really. It's mocap. I'm an animator so I'm biased. Posted Image
What really bugged me about FF was the fact that pretty much everything I saw in FF had been done before. There was nothing really new technically. What was different was the way in which it was presented...a mishmash of unrestrained tool usage and not enough real understanding of performance animation or storytelling structure.
Take this watered down approach. In mocap you direct an actor to pantomime certain situations with no real sense of layout or situation. The actors are dressed in black, skintight suits with little reflective balls of foam decorating their body. (now look her in the eyes and say, "I love you"...)
Next step you apply that gathered information of movement to the CG characters.(usually very poorly because you have to place things into the environment and then hope it looks good) Editing mocap is difficult and it's hard to change what was captured in the studio without much tweaking and gnashing of teeth.
Finally, they layer the lip sync onto the characters by throwing in mouth movement which tends to be sort of canned-looking since there is no real time available to make the facial animation character-based or original looking.
When I think animation, I think of a character type or an attitude driving the look of the motion. Facial animation should be included in this approach because the performance tends to look more unified and believable.
The FF approach was just too segmented and cold for me.
Many like it, but I've seen hair shaders,caustic lighting, bump mapping, cloth shaders, dynamic physics, realistic human models, etc. all before. I've also heard really bad dialogue and seen really bad mimes.
I was just disappointed to see it all hacked together in one movie. Posted Image I almost fell asleep.

of course this is all in my very humbled opinion Posted Image

Tim

#5 of 13 Dan Brecher

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Posted October 22 2001 - 09:31 PM

This discussion seems more suited to 'Movies.' Where discussion of the inconsistency of CGI nipples belongs, I've no idea. Posted Image

Dan (UK)

#6 of 13 Patrick Sun

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Posted October 23 2001 - 01:02 AM

You know, I might actually be able to stay awake if I looked for all the CGI flaws in this film. Posted Image On my theatrical viewing, the storyline bored me, and I did in fact doze off at a few points in the film. The only character that looked real to me was the good Doctor who was Aki's mentor (voice by Donald Sutherland).


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#7 of 13 Matt Perkins

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Posted October 23 2001 - 01:36 AM

Oh, no!! I actually loved this movie when I saw it in theatrically ... I couldn't wait until TODAY when the DVD comes out to watch it over & over. And then, TimW posts this:

I've also heard really bad dialogue and seen really bad mimes.

The mouth animation, I can live with. Heck, I'm used to the Starship Troopers series, I'm fine with it. But when someone says "really bad mimes," damn! Now, it's ruined.

My biggest animation pet-peeve: the god-awful gesticulation with every freaking syllable. (Tim, maybe you can explain to some of your lesser colleagues that not every letter and punctuation mark needs the "perfect" eyelid/chest/shoulder/knees/forehead movement to match?)

Now I'm gonna watch this movie, and all I'm going to see is "really bad mimes!" I hope I can turn on my denial mode, perfected by years of watching The Phantom Menace ...
Posted Image


#8 of 13 DaveF

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Posted October 23 2001 - 03:36 AM

While I didn't notice the all the details that Steven pointed out (and I doubt I will, even looking for them), I did feel like things were "off" at times.

My explanation is that I (as do all people) unconciously know, from a lifetime of experience, how people should move, look, talk, etc. The visuals in FF were close enough to life-life that I mentally interpreted them as real. But then all the subtle differences between the animation and how real people behave didn't "click" in my mind. This gave me a vaguely unsettled feeling at times; knowing something wasn't right, but not able to figure out what it was.

One example, that I did notice, was their eyes. In an extreme close-up on Aki's eye (I think), it struck me that the blood vessels were not present in sufficient quantity.

I think this is where traditional animation may have it a bit easier. Cartoon characters are clearly not real, and are also expected to move in exaggerated or stylized ways. So the missing or incorrect details FF is faulted for, are usually not expected or looked for in more traditional animations, be it Toy Story or Bugs Bunny.

But I felt the flaws were minor compared to the overall accomplishment of FF. Especially since, unlike TimW:
Quote:
Many like it, but I've seen hair shaders,caustic lighting, bump mapping, cloth shaders, dynamic physics, realistic human models, etc. all before.
I've never seen anything like FF before. Motion capture, hand-drawn, infinite monkeys with paper and pencil -- I don't know, but it blew me away.

#9 of 13 Jeff Kleist

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Posted October 23 2001 - 03:52 AM

Personally, I refuse to watch any "dramatic" CG series (Starship Troopers comes to mind) on television. The animation is just awful, and usually they spend so much time trying to make it work intheir limited time and budget that the story flushes. Cel animation for TV!

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#10 of 13 Morgan Jolley

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Posted October 23 2001 - 04:22 AM

No offense, but you're being too nitpicky. There have been way worse films with way worse problems. Nobody seemed to complain that the humans in every Pixar movie look like total crap, but when there aren't enough blood vessels in someone's eye in Final Fantasy, everyone is complaining! Yes, there were problems, but how many other CG films had moments where it looked real or at least looked as good as this film?

The reason nobody liked it is probably because they thought it was slow. Its not an action movie and never was. I went into TSW knowing that it wasn't all things blowing up and people swearing, and I loved it. You could blame Square for false advertising, but had they not advertised it as such, it would have bombed even worse.

#11 of 13 DaveF

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Posted October 23 2001 - 04:56 AM

Quote:
No offense, but you're being too nitpicky. ... Nobody seemed to complain that the humans in every Pixar movie look like total crap, but when there aren't enough blood vessels in someone's eye in Final Fantasy, everyone is complaining!
Morgan -- yes, we're being nit-picky (the title of the thread should have clued you in to that Posted Image ) And yes, I commented on the lack of blood vessels in the eye. But if you read the rest of what I said, you'll find this:
Quote:
But I felt the flaws were minor compared to the overall accomplishment of FF
You'll also see that I pointed out that Toy Story, etc., are not critqued for the simpler depiction of humans -- it's obvious they aren't real people. At it's heart, they are cartoons. FF aspired to be "real", and not a "cartoon".

I think that FF:TSW was in part too good for itself. It acheived a nearly photo-realistic depiction of humans. The problem is that we, as humans, are experts on what humans should look like. FF gave us humans that had many minor deviations from how humans ought to look. I experienced a minor cognitive dissonance, where I was seeing humans who yet weren't human, in ways I couldn't always identify, since the problems were very subtle. And it was unsettling, and pulled me out of the movie at times.

Regardless, this is on my Xmas list Posted Image


#12 of 13 Morgan Jolley

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Posted October 23 2001 - 05:45 AM

I admit that there were problems with the animation at some points and that the lip sync might not have been perfect, but everything was pretty good. When you look at someone, you don't look for the little stuff, like how many hairs are on the back of their hands. You are supposed to watch this movie and see it as CGI while accepting the characters as humans. If they improved the mouth movements and some of the animation (and a little on the facial expressions) then it would be perfect.

I've seen live action movies with faker characters than this, so I consider this to be a huge achievement.

#13 of 13 DaveF

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Posted October 23 2001 - 08:38 AM

Quote:
When you look at someone, you don't look for the little stuff, like how many hairs are on the back of their hands.
It's not that I was looking for it; rather, I felt it. Because Aki, etc. were so lifelike, I viewed them as real people unconsciously; and so all the little nuances that weren't "real" jarred me, slightly.

I think it's to Square's credit that they achieved that level of realism, that I'm bothered by missing nuances of human behavior. But, it's a double-edged sword that must be addressed for digital "actors" to become a reality.

All IMO, of course.


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