CGI in the rebuild films.

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition").
The third installment debuted in Japan on November 17, 2012.

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Postby robersora » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:01 pm

It's fascinating how we've grown so accustomed to the flaws of hand-crafted 2D animation, that the flawlessness of CGI feels inherently wrong to us...
Don't get me wrong, those examples you've posted already look very good good* and I'm by no means an opponent of the technology. It's just an observation that fascinates me.

I wonder how long it'll take for the first completely CG Anime I'd consider on par with 2D anime - while they are certainly already doing a great job with non-characters, all the examples for CG characters still feel to gamey... Then again, maybe that's also just something I've "learned" from exposure, rather than an ineptitude of the craft itself.

*I mean, compare it to Blue Sub No. 5, Anime has really come a long way in integrating CG
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Postby Arcadia's legacy » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:07 pm

View Original Postrobersora wrote:while they are certainly already doing a great job with non-characters, all the examples for CG characters still feel to gamey

Does this look gamey to you?
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Re: CGI in the rebuild films.

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Postby pwhodges » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:15 pm

Actually yes (though I don't play games!), the faces specifically. They have an "uncanny valley" look to them which CG still hasn't quite lost - though they're certainly a great deal better than RWBY manages! They're closer to realism than 2D is, but the flaws are disturbing rather than artistic; actually, I think there's an effect that when something is almost realistic, the flaws jump out at us because we assess them as reality, whereas something less realistic we see as a mere representation and adapt to..
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Re: CGI in the rebuild films.

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Postby robersora » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:16 pm

Man, I like the wacky cute Leiji stuff more. Or it's just that I'm bored by the gritty reboot train.

But yes, this looks very Final Fantasy to me. In a good way, let's see, how well it'll age.

And also it's a little bit besides the point, because they went full on 3D for that - what I was talking about was CG more in the veins of Expelled from Paradise.
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Re: CGI in the rebuild films.

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Postby Shark Knight » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:44 am

View Original Postrobersora wrote:It's fascinating how we've grown so accustomed to the flaws of hand-crafted 2D animation, that the flawlessness of CGI feels inherently wrong to us...
Don't get me wrong, those examples you've posted already look very good good* and I'm by no means an opponent of the technology. It's just an observation that fascinates me.

I wonder how long it'll take for the first completely CG Anime I'd consider on par with 2D anime - while they are certainly already doing a great job with non-characters, all the examples for CG characters still feel to gamey... Then again, maybe that's also just something I've "learned" from exposure, rather than an ineptitude of the craft itself.

*I mean, compare it to Blue Sub No. 5, Anime has really come a long way in integrating CG


I think this is quite fascinating as well! Very good observation, I am inclined to agree with you.

View Original PostArcadia's legacy wrote:This
SPOILER: Show
Image
doesn't look good?

[/spoiler]

Only the first one looks good but the moon thing they shoot at looks awkward. The rest looks blocky and like stickers on a different paint. Using cgi on 3d animation should be very limited to quick shots, effects or stuff that would take tons of time. But so far the rebuild films have been abusing it like a michael bay film.
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Postby Arcadia's legacy » Sat Mar 12, 2016 11:53 am

While we're on the subject, here's a film on Youtube i found that amusingly blends 2D animation with live action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_yGcdW-gQU&t=1578s
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Re: CGI in the rebuild films.

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Postby plofchan » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:39 am

View Original PostShark Knight wrote:Well naturally all entertainment media has the goal of making money, still there is no reason of not making something amazing and making money out of it. To me cgi in anime it's lazy and looks cheap. Period.


Came here to see if anyone else felt this way. I'm not an animator and I don't know if it's lazy, but I don't like how the rebuild films look. EoE wouldn't be the masterpiece that it is had they used CGI... its all about the drama and the fluidity of the 2d art... you can feel it when those eva hit the ground or throw a punch. In the new films they just bounce around.

I guess maybe the CGI stuff is good for the creators and they can go a lot crazier than they used to. I can't stand it though.

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Re: CGI in the rebuild films.

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Postby Reichu » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:13 am

View Original Postplofchan wrote:EoE wouldn't be the masterpiece that it is had they used CGI...

EoE does use CGI. :uhh: Very, VERY obvious CGI. So that clearly isn't the reason you don't like the look of the new movies -- or, at least, it's far from the full story.

You're also overgeneralizing about the new films. There is some bad and weightless CGI, yes, but there is also no shortage of excellent hand-drawn animation. Where, yes, the Evas have weight. (Look at Eva-13 lumbering around and tell me with a straight face that it doesn't look massive and heavy.) Even some of the CGI is able to pull this off well (see e.g. Eva-05).
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Postby Justacrazyguy » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:38 am

Now that I think about it, EoE belongs to that "first wave" of anime that started to use CG as more than just a gimmick. The good old chopa in Golgo 13 is older, but it's unusual, and CG in the 80's was on the level of unicorns when it comes to frequency.

In those last years of the 90's there were many anime that used digital effects or camera zooms and other technical stuff not possible before computers became generalized. Stuff like Cowboy Bebop and Now and then, Here and there, to cite some of the more well known examples, used CG, but, like the EoE movie, only in a few scenes, to the point where you could easily forget it was even there.
Well, to be honest, there were a few more heh, adventurous? anime that used CG in much larger amounts but these were thankfully not that many.

I think it is kind of ridiculous that EoE, despite being the older movie, is aging much better in my eyes than the Rebuilds. Oh sure, the CG has improved, definitely, but it still ages like milk when compared to 2D animation.
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Postby Derantor » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:33 am

The only scenes in EoE I can think of that clearly stuck out as CGI to me were the souls floating towards GNR (the body-shaped things, with Rei-transition guides at their side) and part of the live-action sequences. All the rest of it seems to be hand-drawn. Even if it isn't, it didn't feel that way, so I don't need to overanalyze this, I think: If it looks good, it is good, however it was created.

The rebuilds did something similar. Right from the get-go, the angels where clearly CGI. And while I was a bit miffed at first, I really came to appreciate that in 1.0 and 2.0. The angels truly do not belong in the "normal" world, and it only enhances the feeling of strangeness that they invoke to have them so obviously different visually from everything else. There are some great shots of the angels bursting into LCL/Blood where the CGI is replaced by drawings, and those are some of the greatest scenes in the Rebuilds.

Where things start to break down for me is in 2.0. I distinctly remember seeing Unit 01 running towards Sahaquiel/The 8th, and if that "Running faster than the speed of sound" sequence wasn't bad enough, there is this sweeping shot of it taking a corner via platforms raised from the ground. That's obviously something only really possible because of CGI, and the fluidity and ridiculousness of the whole thing (they PLANNED all that in advance?), which was previously reserved for the angels, starts to seep into the "real world" of the "cartoon reality" - the hand-drawn world of the characters.

3.0 of course amps that up to eleven. To me, a lot of the action seems to be utterly devoid of any weight, as early as the sequence of Asuka's booster rockets igniting, and the sequences of the Wunder rising feels like is is a part of some video-game. In essence, everything is too clean, too fluid when CGI fills the screen. It is the same sense of uncannyness you get when wathing something in 4k at 120 fps. Those images are sharper and clearer than reality. At the same time, there is a choppiness to it all that just doesn't jive with the rest of it.

If I had to point to a single thing why EoE feels so good, it is that shot of the door-handle in the hospital scene. That's peak "cartoon reality" right there. And for all the exquisite details in the Rebuilds, they never feel that real. The original series and EoE have this grittyness to them; you can see the flaws in the drawings, the limitations of the tools used to create the moving pictures. Everything is a little blurry, masking many of the imperfections, or rather, blending the imperfection together. Even the deliberately minimalistic scenes of EoTV still feel like they belong in the world of NGE, because they were created with the same tools.

In 2.0, the scenes of normal life in Tokyo 3 exemplify why the Rebuilds do not capture that feeling. You have characters in the foreground walking with buildings rising behind them, but the buildings are far more detailed than the characters; they even seem to move at a different framerate than the foreground. Shinji walking down the bridge has cars on the road which are not only perfectly identical, they again move far more fluidly than the people on the bridge above who seem to stutter rather than walk.

Movement in the rebuilds is off in either case; things do not seem to have innertia most of the time. They change direction and experience too large a change in velocity too fast to feel anything like the giant things they are supposed to be and seem small as a result. Constant, sweeping camera movements made possible by CGI enhance that feeling of not being grounded in "cartoon reality", and feel unnatural compared to reality as well. Do the experiment yourself: Stand up, focus a single point, and then move around as smooth as possible without changing your focus. It seems impossible: Your eyes want to jump to the next point to focus on, so even when they constantly return to the point you try to focus on, there is never a moment without some jitter.

I am not saying that everything in NTE is bad, or that everything in NGE is good. There are some extremely jarring scenes in NGE; The static background of people on the aircraft carrier comes to mind. NGE just has a pretty constant level of detail and flaw, while NTE rapidly shifts, sometimes having different levels of detail in the same scene, an artifact of blending in "flawed" hand drawn animations with "perfect" CGI. As I said, in the case of the Angels that works, at least for me. But most of the time it doesn't.

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:49 am

The CGI in these movies is fine. Honestly, the only example of Rebuild CGI that sticks out too much for me are the instances in 1.11 where Unit 01 is shown going up the chute to fight angels. Everything else in these movies feels pretty solid for the most part after that. The scene where the Evas are running towards the "Fallen Angel" in 2.22 actually switched from CGI to hand-drawn animation from shot to shot, and I couldn't tell that's what they were doing until I bought the books of keyframe animations for the movies and saw hand-drawn Eva running animations. (I always assumed that all the shots were CGI, for some reason.)

The cinematography and editing in Eva Q is too hectic and documentary-style in order for me to notice any sense of weight out of any of the CGI. I don't even know if I can blame the animation at that point. If the action scene if full of a lot of quick cuts and crash zooms, it'll be more difficult to portray a sense of weight through the animation, no matter how hard the animators try. But I really don't care about that because I still like the cinematography and editing of Eva Q.

Honestly, if we're seeking weighty-looking CGI, anime is probably not the best place to start looking anyway. This is the style of filmmaking that depicts Eva Unit 01 jumping almost a thousand feet in the air, regardless of how it's being animated. I'm not saying anime can't look weighty, but that the weightiness of the animation is definitely a selective aesthetic choice, and not a constant rule. (Asuka's Final Battle on EoE has the most weighty animation of any Evangelion scene ever animated, while that same Eva Unit is depicted as having a dainty-looking running animation in Episode 12.) Using CGI might simply be an extension of that decision of whether or not to make something look weighty to begin with.

To me, it's not that CGI is "too fluid," or whatever, it's more that fluid animation only really looks impressive when it appears to be hand-drawn. Physical animations look their best when they are fluidly hand drawn. Camera movement, on the other hand, always looked better using CGI. If the focus of the shot is on the physical movement of the character or figures on screen, then I prefer hand-drawn. If the focus of the shot is the movement of the camera itself, then I prefer CGI. But if a movie can switch from one method to another within the same scene and I not notice it (like the running scene in 2.22), then I rally don't care how they do it and I'm simply impressed by it all.
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Postby Derantor » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:24 am

Oh sure, the CGI isn't terrible, far from it; compared to something like Berserk 2016(17?), it is an outright masterpiece. I think this comes down to personal preference; I prefer the old, "grimy" look of 80s and 90s lo-fi animation to more modern, cleaner animation, whether it is CGI or not. I also can't stand high-framerate movies in general, possibly because of my not very good eyesight, which plays into me noticing the fluidity so much. It seems "more than real", which puts it in the uncanny valley again. CGI just doesn't seem to age well, and with higher resolutions more common now, it becomes even more obvious when it is used. Hand drawn animation also seems "weighty" by default, since you brain recognizes it as something "real", while CGI looks fake by default, as it is something outside of the human evolutionary path. It is a very recent development, and nothing comparable existed before, so it has to go the extra mile to fake it.

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Postby plofchan » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:22 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:EoE does use CGI. :uhh: Very, VERY obvious CGI. So that clearly isn't the reason you don't like the look of the new movies -- or, at least, it's far from the full story.

You're also overgeneralizing about the new films. There is some bad and weightless CGI, yes, but there is also no shortage of excellent hand-drawn animation. Where, yes, the Evas have weight. (Look at Eva-13 lumbering around and tell me with a straight face that it doesn't look massive and heavy.) Even some of the CGI is able to pull this off well (see e.g. Eva-05).


I shouldn't have said eoe didnt have CGI. Didn't mean that, but obviously the stuff in the rebuilds is a whole different animal. There are quite a few shows with obvious CGI that i don't mind. Maybe it's just the contrast between the original art and the new stuff that makes it so jarring.

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Postby plofchan » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:27 am

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:
Honestly, if we're seeking weighty-looking CGI, anime is probably not the best place to start looking anyway. This is the style of filmmaking that depicts Eva Unit 01 jumping almost a thousand feet in the air, regardless of how it's being animated. I'm not saying anime can't look weighty, but that they weightiness of the animated is definitely a selective aesthetic for the animation, and not a constant rule. (Asuka's Final Battle on EoE has the most weighty animation of any Evangelion scene ever animated, while that same Eva Unit is depicted as having a dainty-looking running animation in Episode 12.) Using CGI might simply be an extension of that decision of whether or not to make something look weighty to begin with.

To me, it's not that CGI is "too fluid," or whatever, it's more that fluid animation only really looks impressive when it appears to be hand-drawn. Physical animations look their best when they are fluidly hand drawn. Camera movement, on the other hand, always looked better using CGI. If the focus of the shot is on the physical movement of the character or figures on screen, then I prefer hand-drawn. If the focus of the shot is the movement of the camera itself, then I prefer CGI. But of a movie can switch from one method to another within the same scene and I not notice it (like the running scene in 2.22), then I rally don't care how they do it and I'm simply impressed by it all.


I agree with this. Also, maybe it's unrealistic for me to compare all this new stuff to Asuka's final battle. I just always think of that as the benchmark.

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Postby Blockio » Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:38 pm

View Original Postplofchan wrote:I shouldn't have said eoe didnt have CGI. Didn't mean that, but obviously the stuff in the rebuilds is a whole different animal.

You're gonna have to elaborate there. Any specific scenes in mind?
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Postby Joseki » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:51 am

I think the main issue for people is that they don't notice how much CG is in anime nowadays except for the 2-3 times it looks evidently CG, while at the same time they are more used to not care about classic hand drawn animations of poor quality (and there is plenty in NGE).
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:00 pm

^ This. Absolutely. Anyone who complains about the CGI in the "Rebuilds" has a right to their opinion (it isn't beyond criticism, after all), but they also need to go back and rewatch Episodes 6 and 11 on a loop. Almost none of the character animations looked good in either of those episodes. (There's a reason why much of the Episode 6 scenes used in Evangelion: Death had to be reanimated.) Even the worst CGI in any of these "Rebuilds" looks far better than Shinji's baby face in Episode 6.
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Postby Justacrazyguy » Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:39 pm

It's an apples and oranges thing though.

Evangelion's TV animation had flaws, but it was a TV anime, with all the schedule and budget and limitations that entails.

The Rebuilds are movies with, I hope, better schedule and work conditions, not to mention they could have chosen not to use CG.

Like, come on, is it too much to ask for my anime to be animated? What state are we in that the Evas could all be 2D in 1995, but these days they have to use ugly CG for anything mechanical?
It's anime, I watch it partly because it uses 2D animation. I don't care how pretty you can make the CG, it's not what I want to see.

I can say with confidence that if the Rebuilds were all CG, I wouldn't watch any of it, even directed by Hideaki.

This mini rant to say that I'll take some wonky animation over ugly CG in every case.
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Postby Blockio » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:22 pm

Except that a lot of the things that look handdrawn are actually CG, and you really can't see the difference until you look at the production material; saying "all CG bad" is very much flawed arguing
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Postby Reichu » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:20 pm

View Original PostJustacrazyguy wrote:What state are we in that the Evas could all be 2D in 1995

Talk about "apples and oranges". I invite you to compare how much the Evas are actually moving in NGE to how much they're moving in NTE.

Blockio wrote:Except that a lot of the things that look handdrawn are actually CG, and you really can't see the difference until you look at the production material; saying "all CG bad" is very much flawed arguing

Same thing with hand-drawn stuff being mistaken for CGI. This whole purist argument repeats itself beat for beat with the whole "practical effects vs. CGI" brouhaha. It's completely ridiculous. I get the feeling that what most of these folks really want is for everything to be made through 100% analogue means again. Never mind that when film-makers were making the stuff that's placed on a pedestal behind rose-tinted glass today, they were constantly lamenting the limitations of the time and wishing they had the tools that are available now. :facepalm:
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