Sunday, January 8, 2012

Open Letter to Deadline Hollywood

To Whom It May Concern,

Recently, you ran this post from James Franco:

That's cool. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I applaud Mr. Franco for supporting the use of performance capture while admitting that it can be a scary technology for actors. I also applaud his vocal support of a fellow actor.

However, I do not support the fact that someone at has deleted a comment I made anonymously to the article. Maybe it was an accident, so I reposted it. Here's a screengrab of post #2, in case it accidentally gets deleted again:

Maybe I don't understand your posting rules of "don't impersonate anyone." In that case, I apologize to "Not Convinced" and "Afraid of the Truth," which were the names I used and possibly the 2 people I impersonated.

Perhaps it was a mistake on my part to post it anonymously, let alone twice. Surely, I do not shy away from this topic of conversation. With that in mind, I am posting it here, where you can't delete it and where everyone knows who wrote it:

Disagree completely. Look at these 2 “Andy Serkis/Caesar Morphs” that Andy has been promoting on his Facebook page:

Now look at this animation demo reel:

This very talented animator’s shot breakdown notes that in Caesars’s Goodbye (link 1 above), “Everything (from 0:00 to 0:17) was keyframe animated, except for the character’s spine where mocap data was used & polished.” Also, at 0:44, he notes that the very same shot from link 2 above was animated entirely by hand.

So really, whose performance deserves recognition?

If you could let your readers, or even Mr Franco, know about this, I would greatly appreciate it. I would love to finally start an actual dialogue between animators and actors regarding this topic, instead of just trading tweets and blog posts about it.


Tim Borrelli

PS: An update (1/11/12): Facebook apparently considers the direct link to this blog post to be spam! Here is proof to go along with Lamar Hunt's comment below- my wife tested this claim and we found it to be true!:


  1. Update: They seem to have deleted the second comment! For shame. It's their prerogative, but I am disappointed.

  2. Just to add to the craziness of this, I posted a link to this blog post on Facebook (I'm an animator and friend of the animator you mention, and feel this kinda truth really needs to be understood and explained). After posting the link with my own comments, I got many comments from fellow animators. The next day I find Facebook has deleted my post and the comments. I tried to repost everything, and FB tells me that the link was listed as spam and could not be posted. So I simply just linked to your blog. I find it really amazing that someone would find the truth to be spam. Thanks for putting this on your blog where the truth can be found.

  3. This is astonishing news! I also posted this, MY OWN LINK to Facebook and it was deleted. I didn't inquire, as I had "shared" the link from another animator I wasn't friends with and assumed that he had deleted the post due to some sort of controversy.

    Would you mind if I quoted your comment on FB and twitter? If we are indeed being censored... it needs to be publicized!

  4. Apparently, if you post the direct link to this page but remove the preview, it will post to FB. Spread the word!

  5. I just posted this to FB with the preview and it posted fine. I think they're in your interwebs Tim. :)

  6. I've heard that its possible that the link to the thumbnail is what is considered spam. It's weird since 2 nights ago I could post the link with the thumbnail and now I can't. I wonder if it is/was a thing?

  7. Dunno. Also, to add to the conversation: It's called "Motion Capture" not "Performance Capture". We are nowhere near the place we need to be able to efficiently capture full performances without someone having to clean up that data. To be honest, until we start using something like a high speed sonar ping to generate the motion capture data utilizing a point cloud as the data holder we'll never get to performance capture. I understand that good MoCap actors are hard to find and that it makes it easier to get the data if they're competent, but at the end of the day what they've provided is data that gets translated into what the animator works with to make the performance. They've provided motion.

    As an update about posting it to FB - Friend of mine tried to re-share it and couldn't. The conspiracy continues!

  8. I understand the sentiment behind calling it "performance capture" when you also capture the voice and possibly the face at the same time (in my opinion, voice captured with body is waaaaay more important than face). But I agree that the tech isn't there yet to take a performance from the volume to screen without significant rework/cleanup/modification. The tech will get there (look how far it's come in 10 years), it just isn't there yet.

    Also, regarding the FB spammy-ness:

  9. Just posted to my fb, it's up now, but I'll update as to whether or not it stays.