"It's a tremendous strain on the animators' wrists."
February 16, 2016 2:33 PM   Subscribe

The Simpsons to air live episode (well, kinda sorta...)
"The final three minutes of the May 15 show will use motion capture technology to animate actor Dan Castellaneta — the voice of Homer whom Jean called 'a great improviser' — in real-time."

"To get involved, fans can tweet their questions using hashtag #HomerLive beginning Sunday, May 1 through Wednesday, May 4. For the record, [producer Al] Jean assured us that early Twitter deadline simply allows them to obtain usage permission from the tweeters, not to prepare Homer’s animation."
posted by Atom Eyes (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hah, good use of the "outofideas" tag.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:39 PM on February 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


relevant
posted by zippy at 2:40 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


[Link isn't working for me. Here's the article I think it's supposed to link to.]
posted by Rock Steady at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling that this might be how they're doing it.
posted by Guy Dudeman at 2:48 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Have no fear, we've got stories for years.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:50 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Moe gets a cell phone! Has Bart ever owned a bear?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Simpsons have done it.
posted by barnacles at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Boo-urnsing myself for botched link. Save me, Jebus!)
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:55 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


So it's come to this.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:57 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Fixed link, in real time
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:01 PM on February 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


Hello, Iowa! Does anyone have a doughnut?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:01 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Who knows what adventures they'll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?

Which, sadly, did not come at the end of Season Eight.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:09 PM on February 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


pointless gimmick. My default webcam software can roughly map my face to a 3D model of a statue (or at least a vectorial impression), and it's a cheap webcam on a midrange 2010 laptop.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:15 PM on February 16, 2016


Unless everyone in this thread is Steve Allen, you're stealing my bit!
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 3:21 PM on February 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


pointless gimmick. My default webcam software can roughly map my face to a 3D model of a statue (or at least a vectorial impression), and it's a cheap webcam on a midrange 2010 laptop.

Give the quality of mocap these days, I expect it'll be very pointed.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:36 PM on February 16, 2016


Have no fear, we've got stories for years.

That song is almost 14 years old, originally airing on April 21, 2002. It's now older than The Simpsons was at the time.

I'd say they have a plausible claim to have successfully delivered "stories for years".
posted by Hatashran at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


True, they said nothing about interesting or funny stories, so they are in the clear.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:46 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Simpsons did it.

Twice.
posted by SansPoint at 3:48 PM on February 16, 2016


[obscure Simpsons quote]
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:55 PM on February 16, 2016


[followup telling me that it's not obscure, using another Simpsons quote]
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:55 PM on February 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


[points and says "ha ha!"]
posted by eriko at 4:14 PM on February 16, 2016


Some people think the Simpsons isn't as good as it used to be?
posted by howfar at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some people think that earth is spherical, too
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:52 PM on February 16, 2016


The Simpsons is still perfectly cromulent
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:58 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


[so-very-meta comment about frequently made comments]
posted by Zonker at 5:29 PM on February 16, 2016


It'd be nice if they'd just rename the show at this point.

Maybe something like "Homer and the Ship of Thesus", y'know?
posted by solarion at 6:12 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Motion capture technology? You mean Animotion?

Jebus. It's possible to carry on entire conversations using nothing but Simpsons references. It's like that Star Trek TNG episode where Picard finds that race that speaks in nothing but cultural references.
posted by BiggerJ at 6:21 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Homer, his doughnut eaten, his eyes wet.
posted by dannyboybell at 6:27 PM on February 16, 2016 [24 favorites]


Some people think the Simpsons isn't as good as it used to be?

If you search my comment history, you'll see that I'm no knee-jerk new Simpsons basher, but occasionally the show will come out with one of these Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour-type promotional stunts, and even an old softy like me has to cry out "Not again! The line must be drawn here!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:39 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Censor it! For the love of god, censor it!

Wait, wrong show
posted by Existential Dread at 8:03 PM on February 16, 2016


Rest assured that I was on the internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:12 PM on February 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


For all of the problems with the show in recent decades, Dan Castellaneta is not one of them. Seing him improv Homer live would be about the best damn thing Fox did with an animated prime-time slot since Tina read aloud her erotic Friend-Fiction.

Also did anyone else notice they hired Jud Hirsch to develop a prime-time animated show? And did anyone else think, "Crap, they should have hired Rebecca Sugar! Hirsch's plotting is a mess of well-worn tropes, and Dipper is the only boring character in the series, but he's the lead."

I may have.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:49 PM on February 16, 2016


This is one case where the Simpsons didn't do it first.

In 2014 there was an anime called Minarai Diva which ran a 50-minute mostly live show for 10 episodes. It had live characters, animated using motion capture technology and lots of ad-libbing. It had a live keyboardist playing the background music. They accepted lyrics suggestions via Twitter during the show and used them to write an original ending theme song every week. One week a camera crew went to visit viewers live via satellite and they asked questions to the characters. The final episode was an actual live concert.

Here's a video where show producer Hisanori Yoshida demonstrates the motion capture tech live at AnimeJapan 2014 during the first announcement of the show. Around 21:40, a USB cable comes loose and the character freezes up about the same time as voice actor Nozomi Yamamoto reads from the script, 'And there's no lag at all!'. After eventually getting hooked back up he pushes his luck with some tricky poses and loses connection again.

This video is a commercial for the blu-ray and DVDs showing off the bonus 'staff intercom heckling' audio track. But I'm really linking it here because it's the only one I can find where you get a good view of the production set. You can see the keyboardist, whiteboard for the song lyrics, and big screen for displaying tweets. You might also notice the inner-tubes. Those are to help the voice/motion actors not to stick their arms through the characters' clothes. (The end of this video also shows the infamous time where one character's body became frozen in a 'T-pose' for the entire latter half of the first episode due to technical difficulties.)

And here's another video made by the animation director demonstrating the motion capture rig that was used in the show. I'm not exactly sure if it uses accelerometer & gyroscope tracking or something else, but it's not an optical system. You can see the calibration poses including the above mentioned 'T-pose'. During the show they had a separate 'animator' controlling the characters' facial expressions and triggering other special effects with what looked like a game controller. I believe there was also audio-based automatic lip flap.

So anyway, I can't muster too much excitement for a 180-second experiment, but I do hope it goes well because I'm interested to see how a full episode would go.
posted by umrain at 1:22 AM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


[Obligatory Futurama is better comment]
posted by Pendragon at 2:07 AM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


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