Let It Be Untrue! JLA To Be In ‘Photo-Real’ CGI?

Published 8 years ago by

SupermanCGI Let It Be Untrue! JLA To Be In Photo Real CGI?Am I alone here? Does anybody else see the major flaw of so-called ‘photo-real’ CGI? Aren’t Pixar films more ‘realistic’ than these kind of extended video game cut-scenes? I’m sorry… let me backtrack a little.

A strong rumor has surfaced to suggest the upcoming Justice League of America film from Warner Bros. may be shot as a motion capture CGI film, similar to Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express, upcoming Beowulf and James Cameron’s much talked about Avatar. Sure, it settles the issue of casting, with Christian Bale and Brandon Routh not really needed. Sure, it allows a scope that regular live action might not be capable of pulling off within a budget. But, seriously people – don’t you find this kind of ‘animation’ distracting?

Let’s get one thing straight: ‘photo-real’ is not photorealistic. Watching the trailers for Beowulf, I feel as though I’m watching a video game trailer. What appears to be live action one moment suddenly switches to a bizarre Star Wars prequel-esque, gaseous reality. Rather than being wowed and amazed by great animation, I instead find myself viewing the image as live action with bad (or all-too-obvious) special effects.

I say leave animated films to Pixar and abstract CGI artistry to films like Sin City and 300. If you want real life, do real life.

The human eye can tell the difference, you know.

Source: IESB.net

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  1. At least they wont waste Christian Bale’s contract

  2. First, thanks for writing this up… it needed to be done but I hadn’t quite decided on an angle yet.

    John over at TheMovieBlog.com actually really likes the idea, and my first reaction is that this may be the best (if not ONLY) way to really get this film made and have it turn out possibly decent.

    I’m curious to watch Beowulf to see where the tech is now… Polar Express’ Tom Hanks was positively creepy in my opinion.

    The director they’ve selected for this now makes a heck of a lot more sense considering his CGI movie background.


  3. CGI animation that tries too hard for realism often falls into the “uncanny valley”, the point at which the flaws become glaring precisely because they are so few and so subtle that only the human senses can tell something’s “off” with the animation.

    That said, I could get on board with the animation angle if they took it in a more stylized direction, ala the Incredibles, but with a DC twist or making the animated Justice League into a 3D equivalent. Heck, they could probably swing Bale and Routh as leads that way considering voice work isn’t likely to intrude much on their independent live action work.

    The script is still the major concern. If it’s rushed as I suspect it probably will be due to the upcoming strike, then it all might be for naught anyway, but I won’t dismiss this until the finished product reveals it’s true quality or lack thereof.

  4. No, no no! Avatar is NOT CGI motion capture. It is ‘performance capture’ where the film is approx 60% CGI and the rest is live action. RELAX man. Secondly, every year the improvements to the technology is growing by leaps and bounds. Soon you WILL NOT be able to tell the difference between live and CGI. Period. That will be a fact. The point is, they will be able to create movies on a much more grander scale, MORE CHEAPLY that going to locations, even if they existed. The benefits far outweigh the few naysayers who didn’t shell out a few bucks to see the $456,000,000 blockbuster, “300″, which for your information was made for a paltry $65mil. Thats almost $400mil in PROFIT. That’s why the technology is going to keep getting better. Theres money in it. And money drives the world doesn’t it? And besides, how are we going to get to the point where the audience actually JOINS THE MOVIE and can interact in real-time without CGI? Imagine that. In a perfectly realistic world.

    Read more about the upcoming technologies on my blog: http://marketsaw.blogspot.com – especially the James Cameron entries about Avatar.

    Nice blog btw! :-)

  5. Totally relaxed… erm… man.

    The article wasn’t about ‘Avatar’ – it was about ‘JLA’ – but the mention of James Cameron’s film came from the source at IESB.net, so blame them.

    As for never being able to tell the difference between real and CGI… maybe that’ll be true for you… but I, thankfully, have both human eyes and instincts.

    The subtlest nuances of the natural form will never be 100% replicated by technology, at least not in our lifetime. 99.9%, perhaps, but that 0.1% will not go unnoticed to people with an eye for it.

  6. How much money are thy really going to save going this route? While I realize the now defunct Square Studios was pioneering a lot of things at the time, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (which failed miserably, greatly due to the fact that it had nothing much to do with the mythology upon which it took its name) cost $137 million according to BoxOfficemojo.com, which isn’t exactly chump change. That’s the one “photorealistic” CGI movie I can think of.

  7. Look no offense man, but I have got to respectfully disagree with you. The human eye can be tricked NOW into thinking it is a perfect image as it cannot perceive less than 2 arc seconds of separation of pixels. So it is now down to a matter of the NUMBER of pixels being displayed and the DISTANCE the viewer is from the screen. There is technology now that crams the ability of 17 standard 1080i HD TVS into one. Now that is a sharp picture. Stand back a bit. It is perfect. TODAY. Have you not seen the advances in CGI in the last 5 years? Not only will you be realistically immersed in a CGI movie in 5 years time, it will also be in 3D. First evidence will be Memorial Day 2009, Avatar.

    Yeah, I am not blaming you, but the human eye has limits. Unless your name is Steve Austin?

  8. Jim,

    I think you’re missing the point that Kane is making… it’s not about the pixel resolution, it’s about the physics of movement.

    Personally, I think that eventually the tech will be such that those physics issues will be conquered and it will be impossible to tell the difference. But right now, they still don’t have it quite down regarding movement. It’s really not as noticeable in a movie like “Shrek,” but the closer you get to rendering people realistically, the more the mind (subconsciously) picks apart what’s on the screen.

    The subtlest of movements that don’t look exactly right aren’t noticeable when they’re performed by a green ogre but jump out as the character becomes more and more human. One example of this was in fact in the movie “Shrek” where the artificiality of Fiona and the prince stood out much more than that of the other characters. Also, look at the web swinging in the Spider-Man movies. Sure, it was well done, but it was still obvious that it was CGI… not so much because of the look of the character as it was to how the character moved.


  9. This will be my last post on the topic – sorry to persist!

    The physics of movement are certainly an issue. However, every year it moves closer to the truth. James Cameron has invented new technology for this – Gollum was created using sticky electrodes stuck all over Andy Serkis – Cameron is now using a device that will fit over the head of actors to capture their emotions and movements. Details are sketchy but it speeds up the process and enables a better representation. Further, Cameron is rumored to NOT be using optical cameras entirely! What do I mean by that? I don’t know! No one knows for sure yet as security is tight, but it could be a technology to capture human body movements without all the wires.

    Anyway, the point is CGI is advancing far faster than many people realize. Mix this in with cheap 4K digital cameras (http://www.red.com) and 3D and we have the saviour of the theater experience.

  10. Jim,

    Appreciate the discussion on this. :-) And like I said, I think that eventually the physics issues WILL be solved and that we won’t be able to tell the difference.


  11. Fascinating discussion.

    But the point at which we are able to technologically “jump” the uncanny valley, the question must be asked, that unless there is some specific sfx shot that couldn’t be achieved realistically otherwise (such as some kind of morphing effect), what is the point of avoiding live action performances? Great animation (CGI or traditional) is about the slight exaggerations (such as larger eyes) that enhance emotional or comedic elements of a story. The advantage of animation is the designed unreality of the world while maintaining the believable aspects, not adherence to physical perfection – which seems to be the goal of a new crop of motion capture animation.

    So again, what is the point of using a medium or technique in ways that minimizes its innate advantages? When live action performances will suffice, why spend gobs of money recreating them digitally?

  12. OMG! Please tell me this is not happening! It’s gotta be real!

  13. I must say, I’m at a loss here; Superhero Hype! has a poll about it–CGI/mo-cap, live action or not made at all. I haven’t answered, mostly because I don’t know if the scripts good or not, and whether we’ll get crazier action in CGI/animation vs. live action. Obviously, you can do anything in animation but the problem modern day CGI is that it’s overused.

    Jon Favreau’s movies have great FX because he still relies on a mix of practical and CGI FX, which is why JURASSIC PARK still holds up.

    Also, for the record, I’ve seen footage from the Avatar camera, the Pace/Cameron Fusion 3D, in ultra high definition “4k” quality in Vegas last April (NAB). They shot some NBA action in 3D and projected it in 3D, and it was incredible!


  14. Regardless of what happens in the future, I’m gonna go back to the topic of ‘JLA’… rumoured to be made in around 6 months time.

    If it looks anything like ‘Beowulf’, I’m gonna be bummed. If I want to watch startlingly real video game cut scenes, I’ll go watch something on Xbox 360 and a HD TV. If I want to watch a complete narrative motion picture that sucks me in and absorbs me mentally, I’d like physical movement, eyes and the subtle luminosity of human skin to be truly ‘real’.

    I don’t want a ‘JLA’ that’s merely an experiment or CGI work-in-progress.

  15. Why don’t they just use the cut scenes from Justice League Heroes? Ever since I heard that JLA was gonna be made into a movie it seemed like a dream come true to me. But all the recent news surrounding the film has just turned that dream into a nightmare. I say live action movie or no movie at all. I may have liked the cgi idea for a TV show,but the League deserves better treatment than this for their first film. Another bad thing about this is that if it’s made this way than it’ll be years and years till we see this on the big screen. That said,I’m now going to go hang myself so I don’t have to see this movie.

  16. DUDE! i agree with you, why go hyper real, might as well hire actors and do it live action.