[LAEM] Visual style for the movie

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[LAEM] Visual style for the movie

Postby Chowwow » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:56 pm

I think one of the concerns that people have with the idea of a live-action Eva movie is how the movie will maintain Eva's "look" during its transition to live-action. I think that it's apparent by now that this production will have heavy use of CGI. The problem is that too much CGI can make a production look cartoony and force the audience to suspend their disbelief a little too much. I was wondering what everyone thinks (or rather, WANTS) the LAEM should look like and how it would stay "true" to the anime.

Here are some of my thoughts:

I was watching a few parts of the live action Death Note movie and noticed a few things different about its visual style compared to that of its source material. I did like how the combination of actors, costumes, and make-up were used to essentially bring the anime characters into flesh-and-blood form. Yet, what I missed were the dynamic camera shots and dramatic lighting and colors used in the anime. By comparison, the live-action movie was shot too traditionally and looked too flat and bland. It also didn't help that Ryuk, the creature character of the movie, was depicted in full CGI and interacting with live people. Though he was accurate to his anime counter-part, the effect he had on the movie looked jarring.
[url]http://tokidoki.animeblogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/death-note-movie-2.jpg[/url]

With that in mind, I also looked back at the art work done by Eva's character designer and manga author, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. I noticed that his work used a lot of bold colors, light touches and smooth features. He makes it look really elegant, even if a bit misleading considering how BRUTAL the actual anime is:
[url]http://www.lonelyangel.com/v3images/official_art/pics/off_189.jpg[/url]
[url]http://img458.imageshack.us/img458/3732/pics1404mp4.jpg[/url]
[url]http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii165/chowwow138/TooCool.jpg[/url]
[url]http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii165/chowwow138/Eva2.jpg[/url]

Finally I thought about the ReBuild of Eva movies, which speaks for itself:
[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btkl5lQSRyU[/url]

Keeping all of these in mind, I have been thinking of the kind of style that an artistic LAEM could have.

The movie can be shot in the same or similar way the anime was done, with extreme far shots, close shots, background panning, etc. More importantly, the scenes and colors used would be bolder and highly saturated and lighting made dynamic, lightly touched up with CGI. Bloom lighting effects, smoother surfaces and textures can be added here and there on backgrounds and on the actors themselves. I suppose this could be called CG Shading (like Cell Shading in video games, but with CG on live pictures). Scenes could be filmed with live actors working with props, sets and full scale models (i.e make it as material as possible). Then CG is applied not just for say, full Eva shots, but also on the live actors, props, and backgrounds.

The overall effect of this (hopefully) is that every human character and CG model visually and aesthetically blends together; they appear to be in the same "plane" of existence rather than having one being layered on top of the other. While the flesh-and-blood actors retain their unmistakable humanity, the line between them and their CGI backdrops blurs and makes it harder for people to distinguish. The light use of CGI on the actors themselves (which is something I'm guessing happens a lot nowadays, anyway) could also allow them to preserve the "smoothness" that their anime counter-parts have; adding the color and appeal of an anime figure on a live human being. In essence, it would look like Sadamoto's artwork coming to life.

I believe that the closest match to such a technique in a modern movie would be 2004's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow starring Jude Law.

You can see for yourself here:
[url]http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0346156/mediaindex[/url]

I liked how the CGI gave everything a retro-futuristic look, and even the outlandish visuals (like the mechs and Angelina Jolie with an eye patch) were given a sense of charm and fluidity using this technique.

Of course, all of this will take a HELL of a long time to produce and will take a God load of money to do (applying this method on EVERY single shot could bring the production way over the projected budget, I would imagine). Also, this would take someone with a really good eye and a talent for anal-retentive artistry to see what kinds of things each shot needs to blend.

But, since this is a discussion of wishful thinking, I think this would be a way to go: make a real-life anime.

Thoughts?

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Postby Szmitten » Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:33 am

Firstly, Death Note began as a manga, then a live-action movie, then an anime. I'm slightly shocked at the number of people who jumped on the bandwaggon as soon as the anime came out.

Secondly, I have seen parts of Sky Captain, and it really doesn't appeal to me. If such effects were used for Eva I think there would be a surprisingly large backlash from the fans wanting a more "realistic" look.

Furthermore, we already have the anime, we don't want a "real-life anime", we want a live-action adaptation.

Not criticising you if it sounds like I am.

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Postby Indigo Arcangel » Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:17 am

I really like your ideas. You've obviously given this a hell-of-a-lot of thought. And I agree with your ideas to a very large degree.

The sky captain comparison is a very good idea. I have not seen much of the movie myself, but from what I remember, the live-action actors superimposed on the eerie cg backgrounds had a very surreal, artistic look and feel, and I thick Eva would work extremely well with that, escpecially, for example, in scene like the Rei-quarium. It would be an extremely good look when it comes to scenes which involve the sci-fi geofront-terminal dogma etc backdrops.

As for the outside views, Sadamoto's artwork really needs to be used - for example, this pic - http://gallery.point-blank.cc/dermond/Der_Mond_Yoshiyuki_Sadamoto_019_020?full=1 - which displays exactly what you meant by the blending of lighting with the backdrop.

However, the big issue that needs to be concentrated on is the Eva's themselves - Sky Captain failed hugely when it came to the cg robots. They looked, quyite simply, crap.
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Postby V » Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:50 am

Weta will know what they are doing
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Postby Steve » Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:01 am

There'll be a fine line between making everything look right for live action and keeping the "spirit" of the anime. But basically I agree with V: Weta will know what they're doing. I trust them with this. There seems to be a lot of love for the source in the LAEM project - that is, it's not just a complete cash-in - so I'm optimistic that we'll get something that does Eva justice.

I also largely agree with Szmitten: it's be a live action adaptation, it should be one. The Sky Captain idea has merit, but that treads another fine line: the one between being a live action adaptation and a 3D/CGI animated adaptation. The latter is something that I don't think is necessary and have little desire to see come to fruition.
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Postby THE Hal E. Burton 9000 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:29 pm

V wrote:Weta will know what they are doing
yet the real question is whether the cast, director or screenwriter will :|

and for those who think it will NEVAR happen, all I can say to that is never say never

people thought that a Speed Racer or Dragon Ball live action film would never happen, but check it now, IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND! (sorry, the forces, too strong to not throw that zinger out)

but (IMO anyway) when it happens, ADV will HAVE to fall into the loving arms of Murdoch, Spielberg, Bruckheimer or somebody with a MASSIVE bank account or the project would easily bankrupt ADV
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Postby darkness713 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:22 pm

WETA has done a lot of good work, but I don't know. I saw some concept drawings (I'm sure most of you saw those too), and I realise those designs and such aren't set in stone yet, but if they follow the same pattern with what I've seen so far, I don't know how well it'll go together. Still, all we can do is sit and wait and hope they really do know what they're doing.
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Postby Steve » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:59 am

The only concept art I've seen that worries me too much is that of the (human) characters. There are some problematic images, sure, but I'm not so worried about casting or anything at this point. I think it's more important for them to get the design of everything else right - the Evas, Angels and locations - and for early production images they seem to be well enough on track with that.

In terms of casting I think I can deal with actors who aren't the spitting real-life image of the characters provided they're good actors. Of course keeping a visual authenticity in the casting wouldn't go astray, but above all the film(s) need to be well-acted.
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Postby darkness713 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:29 am

My biggest complaint is that the Eva's in the concepts that I've seen look too organic. It's probably just personal taste, but I'm sure that if the humans were portrayed well by the actors, then I'm pretty sure I could overlook it. But like most movies, I'm pretty sure I should expect the worst.
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Postby Steve » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:47 am

I'll agree with you on that. The mouths in particular look too organic (too much tongue).
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Postby V » Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:45 am

to be honest I secretly hope the Wachowski Brothers would want to do it.

I say this because: James Cameron is busy with his Avatar movie project, which he's been hoping to make since the mid 1990's. I seriously doubt Senor Spielbergo would be attached, and George Lucas has openly said he's not really looking to do major new movie projects but is settling into being semi-retired with art house films.

The Wachowskis are gigantic anime fans, and I think they'd be at least interested in making it.

I'm not saying they would, or even should, but I'm saying I think they're more likely than Spielbergo or Jackson.

I honestly don't think the Wachowskis are super-masters of film, but they know how to incorporate special effects pretty well and they're...."not Hollywood" if you follow me. They at least wouldn't try to cast non-Asians.

My biggest complaint about the Weta concept art was their Misato: you see, the design scheme of the show is "this is 20 years from now", so stuff doesn't look THAT different from today; as opposed to super-scientific and "futury" like Voltron or Gundam or something...

so they DID do that with the Eva plugsuit designs: take what the show did and make it a bit more realistic (and they were pretty realistic to begin with).

but like....the Nerv personel aren't wearing Star Trek jumpsuits or rings like from the Jetsons; they wear more or less normal uniforms and military outfits.

So their Misato design was to give her a futuristic jump suit like she's on a space ship, which I think not only takes away Misato's iconic red jacket, but really, goes against the design scheme of the entire storyverse that "this isn't the far future".
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Postby Steve » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:20 pm

Re: Misato's outfit.
I completely agree. How is her standard red outfit not instantly do-able in real life?

The Wachowski brothers could do a great job. I don't look quite as poorly on the Matrix sequels as a lot of people do; particularly as a whole I think the trilogy showed their ability to utilise a deep, layered mythology which is exactly what you'd need to do for a LAEM. They stumbled a bit in creating their own, but they could probably handle an existing mythology quite well.

I hadn't thought of them before, very interesting idea.
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Postby master_lloyd » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:24 am

Just wondering if anyone has a link to these concept designs? (sorry if this has been already asked...)
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Postby Chowwow » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:07 am

For anyone who hasn't seen the concept art done by WETA Workshop already:

[url]http://www.wetaworkshop.co.nz/projects/filmography/galleries/neon_genesis[/url]

Personally, the stuff looks good to me on its own, but I also agree that it looks a little too rough and organic. They should smooth things out with them as time goes on, if WETA knows what's good for them.

Anyway, when I mentioned Sky Capitan, I only meant to use it as a close example to my vision. Of course, one of the appeals to Eva is that it is both smooth and surreal and disturbingly real all at once.

For the LAEM, this style should be taken into consideration, so that would mean that the shading should look darker and somewhat more detailed than Sky Capitan, and the CGI models should look more textured and blend in with the characters more. You know, advancement of special effects technology.

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Postby universalperson » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:58 am

I don't know about the Wachowski's; did you see what they did with V for Vendetta? It was good, but it could have been better
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Postby chee » Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:31 pm

They would definitely have to change some of the character costumes. Certain things are done in animation for a reason. I'm thinking of the plugsuits in particular.

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Postby BobBQ » Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:58 pm

If LAEM ends up in the hands of the Wachowskis, you can be sure that plugsuits are among the things which will not be changing.

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Postby chee » Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:19 pm

Probably.

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Postby Gendo'sPapa » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:23 pm

I'll go against the Wachowski's for Eva.
Mostly because I'm bitter but also because they tend to...get lazy sometimes.

Case in point- their reshoots and inserts into "The Invasion". Admittedly a bad film, but the Wachowski inserts included such lame gags as the Aliens hacking phlegm AND suddenly throwing molotov cocktails.

They're really more smoke and mirrors kind of directors. It's not exaclty like The Matrix had never been done before. It just had never been done in live action.

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Postby Asuka's Plug Suit » Sun May 04, 2008 6:45 pm

I think the look of the film is the least of our worries right now...I'm much more concerned about the subtleties in the story getting flattened under typical Hollywood mindlessness.
Finding a director who can coax brilliant performances out of a teenage cast AND deliver huge action set pieces is no easy task.
I think it would be best just to forget about the project entirely, but if not, I think you'd almost need TWO directors...one to deal with the human intereactions with wit and truth, and the other to handle giant robots kicking the shit out of each other.

Or else get the director who did The Host, which deftly handled character complexities AND had great, scary, giant monster mayhem.

(Guillermo del Toro could also probably do a fabulous job, but I think he's a little busy these days, and probably WAY out of LAEM's price range...)
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