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The Polar Express - Performance Capture CGI

By Murray Bourne, 16 Dec 2004

We caught "The Polar Express" with Tom Hanks playing a multitude of roles. The CGI (computer graphics imaging) is very interesting. They developed a new technique for the movie - "Performance Capture" - where real actors wore a device which allowed 72 motion cameras to detect tiny facial movements and store the huge amount of data in a computer. The graphics artists could choose between many different camera angles and wrap a digital 'skin' over the movement data. The effect is extraordinary - it is like animation but with very real motion. The lighting is particularly interesting - check the nuances in the hair colour as the characters move in the light - especially Lonely Boy. The story was for kids, of course, but enjoy the movie for the technological breakthroughs.

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