Triscope vs. rotoscope: Netflix’s The Liberator wants to change the animation

For most of history, people didn’t know how horses ran. Sure, they put one hoof in front of the other, but did it at an astonishing rate that the naked eye couldn’t record the pattern of a particular step. When the British artist Edweard Muybridge shot a racehorse at full speed in the 1870s, the image was smeared with motion blur. Until the photos were retouched, traced, and shown quickly and continuously, the general public was finally able to solve the mystery of this normal movement.

A century and a half later, the team behind Netflix’s World War II miniseries Liberator I’m trying another step that aims to achieve similar results. Make the most of your subject by reducing complex photos into streamlined drawings. The comparison may seem controversial, but one exists without the other, as Mybridge not only laid the foundation for animation in general, but also unknowingly wrote the first chapter in the history of augmented reality. It’s important to remember that you didn’t get it. ..

Liberator, Grzegorz Jonkajtys, 2020
Image: Netflix

But Liberator Similar to countless other war dramas, with exaggerated action sequences, heavily dependent scores, and timeless assumptions of horrific situations that bring the best to people, but one It can be unique. Shot with a trioscope.

Invented by filmmakers LC Crowley and Greg Jonkajtys and realized by producer Brandon Barr, the trioscope is a new technology that gives live-action footage the appearance of hatched drawings. Variety, AV clubs, and Engadget all call the end result an “animated graphic novel.” This is fairly accurate, but it underestimates the nuances of the software itself and blinds us to the rich and complex history of humanity’s attempts. Capturing and manipulating the world to create art.

As a photographer, Mybridge is not the father of Rotoscoping, the brother of Trioscope. The title rests on the shoulders of animation entrepreneur Max Fleischer, who deals with clowns rather than horses. In an early groundbreaking short story, Freisher persuaded his brother Dave to dress his brother Dave in a clown costume and imitate his movements with pen and paper.Although Freisher painted the clown’s suit to avoid the hassle of animating the wrinkles of his clothes, he simplified Dave’s limbs into the shape of a pro-travers hose that would later be applied to people. Sailor PopeyeIt turns out that this process is still too time consuming and not worth the effort.

When the animation industry changed from an experimental playground to a greasy machine, rotoscoping was rarely a central part of the process, but it still played an important role in many works. Freisher revisited techniques for distinguishing between humans and living things. In the 1939s Gulliver’s Travels And 1941s Go to Mr. Bug Goes to, Disney used it to realistically render complex sequences such as dance Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The princess’s spinning shots are recycled Robin Hood.

Accepting the fact that animation has come to be seen primarily as a medium for children, artists have gradually prioritized visual imagination over authenticity, pushing rotoscoping further down the toolkit. I was killed. It was finally rediscovered by Ralph Bakshi in the 1970s. Ralph Bakshi is an adult animator who feels that the Disney style he sees on the screen doesn’t reflect the gritty, gritty reality.Bakshi first used the rotoscoping method in the 1977s Wizard, And then expanded its presence with the groundbreaking adaptation of JRR Tolkien in the 1978s. Lord of the Ring.. First and foremost, he did so because it was the fastest way to run, scream, and animate hordes of flared orcs, but it also brought a sense of reality rarely seen in fantasy movies.

However, despite the benefits of rotoscoping, it comes at a cost. One is to reduce animators from artists to robot tracers, leaving little room for exaggerated physical and facial expressions that appeal to most traditional animated films. When presented with hand-drawn animation, Rotoscoping can also weaken the stylistic unity of the film, as in Bakshi’s 1982 film. Hey Good Lookin.. These issues could give emotionally involved filmmakers a real headache and ultimately forced one of them to look for engineer expertise.

Rotoscoping image of a silhouetted red-eyed man riding a red-eyed horse in The Lord of the Rings of Ralph Bakshi

Lord of the Ring, Ralph Bakshi, 1978
Image: United Artist

Trioscope’s most obvious predecessor came from Bob Sabiston, who graduated from MIT’s Media Lab in the 2000s. He combined his love of drawing with his obsession with computer programming to create software called Rotoshop. The rotoshop worked a little differently when previous iterations of rotoscoping traced live-action footage with varying degrees of accuracy. Instead of copying life, I automatically created an intermediate for linking keyframes drawn by real artists.

Saviston tested the software on several shorts, but in Richard Linklater’s 2001 film, he made his mark known throughout the world of indie films. Waking lifeA set of irrelevant inquiries to the biggest questions that plague human condition. Saviston used his program to deal with film vignettes in a variety of visual flavors, from highly stylized to stunningly realistic. This is the style used for Linklater’s more consistency and liquidity. Scanner Darkly After five years.

Rotoshop also offered other benefits. Not only can you manipulate the actor’s body as separate and related shapes, but you can also move the background to mimic the look and feel of your dreams. But most importantly, it did not prevent the animator from depriving him of his creative freedom.Has a very realistic scene Waking lifeNot only that, some characters have their facial features fully amplified in ways that traditional rotoscoping (now trioscope) harsh naturalism cannot.

Lotto shop image of a man talking to a second man made of clouds in Waking Life

Waking life, Richard Linklater, 2001
Image: 20th Century Fox

Liberator Here are some of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the technology that drives this new kind of cinematic experience. The first thing viewers notice is the stability with which a graphic novel-like look is applied to the footage. Bakshi’s rotoscope images are constantly upset and flickering thanks to the imperfect human hands that created them, but the trioscope masks with laser-like precision that feels more stylized than by chance. Apply.

Bold color filters and empowered shadows easily create a dramatic sensation that other filmmakers may struggle to achieve, Liberator Don’t use the trioscope to creatively add to or manipulate reality Waking life To do. While Freisher and Saviston left room for artists to draw faces and tweak their performances to produce their favorite effects, trioscopes Crowley, John Casino and Bar were at the mercy of the actors’ limits. Faithful to photorealism. That’s not a problem in general — Star James Bradley and his fellow cast members play a compelling role. However, this technology rarely enhances them, despite the enthusiastic promise of the series’ promotional materials. at least, Liberator Some of the elaborate and colorful reels on the studio’s website don’t bring the imagination and artistry to showcase.

The Trioscope enhances the relationship between living, breathing actors and digitally invented props, sets, and effects without having to create more than the sum of their stories. Unprecedented range.. Developers have been very mysterious about how their inventions work at the technical level, probably because they are still patent pending. Have got It sheds some light on how its use can assist in ongoing production. In a brief interview with Television Business International, Barr argued that the trioscope could significantly reduce production costs. Action Projects — Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Premium Drama — Trioscope projects range from 40-50% of the cost. “

That’s a lofty claim, but it’s not unfounded. Initially planned for the production of a longer history channel, Liberator Had Trioscope Studios not intervened to cleverly incorporate CGI to reduce costs, it would probably have fallen into development hell.In this respect, technology may be more like a set like virtual reality found in. Mandalorian From previous iterations of rotoscoping. This technology allows filmmakers to venture from reality to imagination, so they don’t mess with the quality of the shot itself.

Throughout the history of cinema, reality-enhancing technology has been foresighted, but not everyone is equally enthusiastic. “The audience will be experts in human movement,” animator Shamus Culhane wrote in his book. Animation: From script to screen.. “This makes it pointless to try to imitate human behavior using rotoscopes and other devices … Real-life imitation is not art, art is what we are involved in. Instead, he advocated an edited action. This is a way for artists to actively distort inspirational reality rather than passively copying it, as in rotoscopes and trioscopes.

Aside from Culhane’s ideals, animation is a difficult, time-consuming, low-paying job that any animator on the surface of the globe knows. The medium thrives on creative innovation, but it survives on financial efficiency. Since the film’s founding, artists have turned to technology to free their hands for the richer and more rewarding aspects of their work. Trioscope is just the latest technical tool in the box. The images that Trioscope produces may not be “art” in the traditional sense, but the freedom you give artists can be far more valuable than any label.

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