Weta Digital Monkey Business
One of the misunderstandings that people have with performance capture, according to Letteri, is they tend to view it as a mechanical process."I think that comes down to concentrating on the body, where it's very joint-driven," he suggests. "They look at those markers and think you're just moving a skeleton around. But on the face you don't have that. The way these things interact with each other and float against each other, there's no mechanical reference. When you're capturing the shapes of the face, nothing on the face is ever fixed; there's nothing locked down to refer to it, so the first thing you have to do is figure out your baseline. And so there's a big interpretive effort that goes into that. But then it comes back full-circle: You go through this whole process of tracking and analyzing the data, interpreting it through these FACS poses and then putting it back on the face through all the combination muscle shapes. And then you just look at it side by side with the performance from the actor and say, 'Does that look like the right performance or not?' If not, why not?"
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. He has a new blog, Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), and is currently writing a book about the evolution of James Bond from Connery to Craig, scheduled for publication next year, which is the 50th anniversary of the franchise.