Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame -

Richard Percy Jones, who voiced the lead char­ac­ter in Dis­ney’s 1940 an­i­mated adap­ta­tion of Pinoc­chio, died July 7 at his home in Northridge, Calif. He was 87. Bob Hast­ings, a vet­eran voice ac­tor who played Su­per­boy in The New Ad­ven­tures of Su­per­boy cartoons of the late 1960s and Com­mis­sioner Gordon on Bat­man: The An­i­mated Se­ries, died June 30 at his home in Bur­bank. He was 89.

The four teenage he­roes of Penn Ward’s webtoon sen­sa­tion for Fred­er­a­tor’s Car­toon Han­gover come to the printed page in this one-of-akind, seek-and-find style art book. The premise is that side­kick crit­ter Cat­bug has eaten some weird new food cubes, caus­ing him to lose his limited con­trol over his jump­ing abil­i­ties and send­ing him ca­reen­ing through di­men­sions. Your mis­sion as pe­ruser of this tome is to help the Bravest War­riors hunt through the uni­verse, ex­pertly il­lus­trated by more than 25 artists. Fans should be es­pe­cially jeal­ous of the lucky 250 peo­ple who picked up the spe­cial foil-cov­ered edi­tion at Comic-Con last month, which sold at the show for $30 and is prob­a­bly on eBay for sev­eral times that.

26Take home the mu­si­cal in­die fea­ture Le­gends of Oz: Dorothy’s Re­turn on DVD and Blu-ray to­day.

set and then we were go­ing to be able to cap­ture some­how the fa­cial per­for­mance.”

But to get the nu­ances needed to make the Turtles not just amaz­ing but also funny required some se­ri­ous tech­ni­cal up­grades in ILM’s mo­tion-cap­ture tech­niques.

“The chal­lenge here is it is an ac­tion-ad­ven­ture-com­edy, and so to do those com­edy bits we had four ac­tors — re­ally funny ac­tors — ad-lib­bing a lot of stuff,” says Hel­man. “Some of th­ese very comedic sit­u­a­tions came out of dif­fer­ent per­for­mances, so we had to be able to edit the data and bring in one line from this take, an­other line from this other take, a look from an­other take.”

That de­ci­sion ini­ti­ated some­thing akin to a huge sci­ence ex­per­i­ment that re­sulted in a new sys­tem ILM calls Muse, Hel­man says. “The whole premise of this sys­tem was we were go­ing to be able to edit those per­for­mances be­cause we needed to rein­ter­pret this sci­en­tif­i­cally got­ten data into some­thing that was ap­peal­ing and that was

telling the story that we wanted to tell with the char­ac­ter,” he says.

There were rea­sons for in­clud­ing the mo­tion-cap­ture data in­stead of key-frame an­i­mat­ing the Turtles from the start. “You get the tim­ing right and you get the at­ti­tude and ba­si­cally the tone of the per­for­mance is there,” says Hel­man. “And then af­ter that is in­ter­pret­ing this data so that you’re be­ing true to the char­ac­ter you want to por­tray.”

Liebesman says di­rect­ing ac­tors in such cir­cum­stances was fairly nor­mal. “It’s ex­actly the same as di­rect­ing nor­mal ac­tors be­cause you have the ac­tors on stage,” he says. “I think the chal­lenge is there are new pos­si­bil­i­ties ... (such as) mak­ing sure you are shoot­ing a lit­tle wider than you think you need to be­cause some­times an an­i­ma­tor can add some­thing that isn’t pos­si­ble or wasn’t pos­si­ble on set.”

The Se­cret In­gre­di­ent

An­i­ma­tion ended up be­ing the es­sen­tial se­cret in­gre­di­ent needed to turn that raw data into char­ac­ters that were be­liev­able and true to their long his­tory, says ILM as­so­ciate an­i­ma­tion su­per­vi­sor Kevin Mar­tel.

“Even though the (cap­tured) move­ment is 100 per­cent real, it just might not look ap­peal­ing on the tur­tle’s face,” he says. “And it can be some­thing as sim­ple as a smile and try­ing to dis­sect what it is that makes a smile look one way on an ac­tor and some­thing dif­fer­ent on the tur­tle.”

Do­ing this with com­edy is even more dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially since men­tion­ing an­i­ma­tion and com­edy in the same sen­tence in­evitably brings up the work of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.

“This is not that,” says Mar­tel. “Th­ese guys have to feel like they are liv­ing, breath­ing crea­tures in this world. So it be­came about mi­cro-sub­tle looks and shifts. The amount that you can do with an eye dart is pretty in­cred­i­ble. It can com­mu­ni­cate so much if its timed and done right. So that was def­i­nitely a goal of ours on this was to get the com­edy to come through.”

Animators had a wide range of con­trols at their fin­ger­tips via Muse they could use to ad- just the data as sub­tly as pos­si­ble. “We can just boost things and move them around and just sort of re-fit it onto the tur­tle’s face,” Mar­tel says. That re­tains the spirit of the ac­tor’s per­for­mance while also mak­ing it look the way it needs to on the Turtles’ anatomy to con­vey emo­tion.

“It’s def­i­nitely a very del­i­cate thing,” says Mar­tel. “You need to keep it on model with the tur­tle but you need to keep the in­tegrity of the ac­tor’s per­for­mance and that’s always the chal­lenge with all of the tur­tle shots, is try­ing to get the per­for­mance but make it look good on the tur­tle.”

Start­ing with the Data

Ad­di­tion­ally, fa­cial cap­ture gave the animators a strong base to work with that in­cluded the most sub­tle and un­con­scious of fa­cial move­ments that also fit ex­actly with the dia­log the ac­tors were per­form­ing. “From a per­for­mance stand­point, there was a lot of stuff for us to feed off of,” says Mar­tel.

With data com­ing from not just mul­ti­ple

ILM used a mix of mo­tion-cap­ture tech­niques and an­i­ma­tion to cre­ate a new level of per­for­mance for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, al­low­ing them to be funny and in­ter­act with hu­man char­ac­ters like April O’Neil, played by Me­gan Fox.

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