I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Movie Night

I watched three movies last night.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Funny movie. I like Will Ferrell, and he teamed up with some of his favorite cast members (see Anchor Man) for a good comedy. Made me laugh, but I don't know if it has the kind of comedy that would keep me coming back to watch it repeatedly.

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Excellent movie! Based on the weird novel by Philip Dick by the same name. I had trouble working through the book, and then got sidetracked and never finished it. This is an animation with Keanu Reeves and other stars doing the voice. This approach, I thought, was fantastic for capturing the surreal and dream-like quality. The characters are interesting, quirky and on top of that they are all a little paranoid.

There was one scene that was that was better captured in the book. The four slightly stoned friends are trying to figure out if they were ripped off because they count the gears on their newly purchase 18-speed bike and find that they only count 9 gears! Get it, like, you can't count the gears to get the speeds, but the friends don't really think very well because they are on Substance D, a drug that destroys the brain.

This movie also raises some intriguing ethical questions about whether or not it is ok to sacrifice an officer for the greater good - without his knowledge!
Some say this is the best adaptation of a Philip Dick novel to date.

I also saw The Prestige a second time....but I've already mentioned this one...


Melody said...

Interesting animation on the Scanner Darkly movie...from the picture it looks like they used a technique where live footage is run through a posterization filter.

It's not really animation per-say, but it looks cool.

It was used in a series of commercials a while back...Alice hates them...they are, as you mentioned, surreal.

Jonathan Erdman said...

You mean the investment commercials? Charles Schwab, I believe? The ones where they are "interviewing" some people who are not happy with the fact that their brokers get huge commissions for doing jack squat?

If these are the ones then, yea, that's the kind of "animation" that it was.....Are you saying that the actors actually "acted" and then the film was like transformed into this surreal "animation"??? Please elaborate and inform!

Melody said...

Yeah, those commercials.

Yes, the actors actually acted. I'm not sure what else there is to inform you about.

In photoshop there are various filters that can be used to alter photos. You can make a photo look like a photocopy or give it a motion blur or a colored pencil look...most of the time they're pretty useless.

They probably have a move sophisticated version of that filter. Technically the process could be automated so that the computer would convert each frame to the posterized style...but to make it look good they probably have to change the settings for each scene at least. It's still alot cheaper and easier than animating an entire film.

Plus, there is absolutely no way to replicate posterization by hand drawing. Those drawings would have to be amazingly intricate and they still couldn't match the real life movements that come with posterization (which is what freaks my roommate out).

If you want to get more technical you'll have to ask a programmer...I don't know how they make those filters.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Very cool. I had no idea. I was just thinking that they must have drawn up all those characters and just based them on Keanu Reeves, etc. But I think it makes the movie all the more interesting to know that the actors really did the acting and that they just filtered it into this animated thing-er-ma-jig.

Very cool. I am fascinated. So fascinated that I can't wait to get home and watch it again. Or, better yet I am going to go home and do a home movie of myself and find someone to filter it so that it looks animated/penciled.

Title: A Day in the Life of a No Name Theo-blogger.

Jonathan Erdman said...

All right. I watched the Special Features on the DVD of Scanner Darkley. They did, indeed, shoot the movie with actors the way a film is normally done. (They did the filming in Austin, TX, a very, very cool city.) However, they actually did animate each and every character/scene. It took a crazy amount of hours to get it done. I think they said that their original estimate for hours was 320 hours of animation man power for ever 1 minute of movie. Yikes! On top of that they said that they ended up with way more hours put into the animation than originally estimated. That's something like 50-60,000 hours of animation. In the special features they show the animators using their tablet PCs to sketch over top of the film and animate it. They would try to use the same people for the same characters. For example the people who were used to drawing Keanu would stick with scenes that had Keanu in them. Also, they used different people for the fine details (drawing the lines, etc.) and other people for coloring and less detailed animation.

Very cool stuff.

Melody said...

Very interesting. Those people must have wanted to die before they were done.

LINDSAY said...

That kind of animation makes me so angry!!!! I hate how they apply a filter over the people. I am a purest at heart! Give me true animation, or non at all! And by the way Jon, I am Alice.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I don't believe it. Because that is the exact kind of thing that Lindsay would say.