Actors bring realism to animated pix

To get the arm-flailing just right for the character Chowder as he fell through a haunted room, “Monster House” filmmakers put actor Sam Lerner on a trampoline.

“We tracked the facial expressions as well as the arm movements when he was up there. That’s why we call it ‘performance capture’ instead of ‘motion capture.’ We’re really taking the whole actor’s performance into the film by shooting it in a theater-in-the-round style and then animating it later,” explains Jay Redd, “Monster House” visual effects supervisor.

“Chowder is really built on the DNA and the essence of Sam Lerner because he’ll bring preteen energy to that role that no animator could offer.”

Here actors are the newest thing in cutting-edge animation technique. Not just the human characters but even the house itself are inspired by perfs capture drawn from original performances by thesps.

“When you have actors involved, you have that strong, singular vision for a character rather than a committee, and that’s what Sam gave us for Chowder with his performance,” says Debbie Denise, “Monster House” executive producer.

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