A new article on awn.com examines how ILM animated the Avatars in Ready Player One. The task was obviously a daunting one, especially when you are dealing with the always high demands of Steven Spielberg.
After directing The Adventures of Tin Tin, Spielberg was well-versed in converting motion capture data to fully fleshed out animation. But just because he didn’t want the avatars to resemble human beings, it didn’t mean they couldn’t elicit our empathy. That’s because they were constantly inter-cutting between the real life characters (who were mo-capped) and their avatars.
This impacted both design and performance, and was especially true of the hero, Parzival (played by Tye Sheridan). In fact, it took nearly a year to complete Parzival. The animation work was a collaboration between ILM teams in London (supervised by David Shirk) and Singapore (supervised by Kim Ooi). “We did a lot of design tweaks to find his character…it didn’t work on the first pass,” said Ooi. “The facial capture [using the Medusa system from Disney in Zurich] provided the movement but it lacked personality.
The animation teams took the capture data for face and body and stitched together different takes and added keyframe on top of that. They also used stunt doubles to mix with the actual live-action characters and performed additional keyframing because of the tricky physics of the OASIS.
You can read about the other challenges the filmmakers and actors faced on the set of Ready Player One here.