Characters with faces

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Terrellatron, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. Terrellatron

    Terrellatron REPAIR REPAIR REPAIR

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    How should they do characters with actual human like faces so they are not so creepy or weird?
     
  2. Soundwavelover2004

    Soundwavelover2004 Well-Known Member

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    Make them all look like sunder
     
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  3. Prime Noble

    Prime Noble Well-Known Member

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    Drift, Quintessa and Canopy did a good job of it.
     
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  4. YeetSwag

    YeetSwag Well-Known Member

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    Hound
     
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  5. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave The Fox

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    Personally...I'd be fine with only facemasks and speakers and stuff like that in live-action. To me the G1 faces with mouths are a good example of something that works well in a cartoon (especially 2D cartoons), but doesn't entirely work in live-action. Quite literally every live-action Transformer with lips has been controversial. While we may have grown to accept designs like Drift and Hound over the years, we can't forget that a fair amount of people initially considered them quite ugly and creepy. Both of those designs were actually very controversial back in 2014. Canopy, Lockdown, and Optimus all received similar complaints. And even with the aesthetic change in Bumblebee, I still feel like Cliffjumper (the only robot with lips and an overly humanoid face) looks quite creepy. Which to me is evidence that the human face look may never entirely work.

    Aside from having a bit of an uncanny valley effect, I feel like lips on robots sort of pushes the suspension of disbelief a bit too far. It's the sort of thing I don't think about in a cartoon because the animation is so stylized. But in live-action, I'm always asking myself why metal lips can pronounce words like human flesh. Not that Transformers has to be beholden to real-life physics and anatomy...but metal lips pushes it just a tiny bit too far for me. It's an issue that could easily avoided by just giving them speakers or some sort of alien mouth contraption like Shatter and Dropkick have. There are plenty of other ways to give the faces emotion and expression, there's no real need for any of them to have actual lips or a human-like face.
     
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  6. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Hm. It's tricky to say because what people find creepy or uncanny can depend on the person. I do think the faces given to characters like Drift, Hound, Crosshairs, Quintessa and Prime minus-mask AOE onward are closer to how they SHOULD look, or the faces given to Brawn, Arcee and Cliffjumper from Bee. At least for the Cybes that have more traditional faces.

    Some good examples:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is how Bee would've looked if the team working on it cared about doing it right instead of that fugly, inferior speaker-mouthed face which only exists to call back to what should be left behind.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  7. Moy

    Moy Constructicons!

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    [​IMG]
    If They must look human, Sentinel is a good template.
     
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  8. QLRformer

    QLRformer Seeker

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    Hound, Jetfire, Sentinel Prime, their beards look cool but they just mask the issue.

    A robot face can never look really right, because it's bound to look like a mechanical skull with moving parts/components. Unless you are prepared to use a skin to overlay the muscles/bones framework.
     
  9. MJY78

    MJY78 Member

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    I quite liked Crosshairs, Drift and Lockdown as they still appeared quite robotic in the movement; Cliffjumper's face just looked too 'rubbery' and Hound's too cartoonish. I agree that Sentinel's worked well, and even ROTF Arcee had a good balance. I must say, though, that they did a good job with Dropkick's face, not too complex, not monster-like and not particularly humanoid either. Shatter's worked well too.
     
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  10. daniel 97

    daniel 97 Autobots' second in command

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    They shouldn't have humanoid faces to begin with.
     
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  11. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Here's the problem, many other people, myself included, find live-action robots with humanoid faces creepy - it's bad memories from I, Robot for most people. The I, Robot faces are an example of how not to design something - I didn't like the faces in AOE and TLK, because they looked too humanoid.

    Humanoid faces on the robots work in a 2D cartoon - in a live action movie, they're bloody creepy. They invoke the uncanny valley like hell. Look at, again, I, Robot - and wonder how people responded to that.

    Here's the problem - Bee emoted fairly well with the speaker-mouthed face. If the face emotes well and conveys the character's personality, that is doing it right. There's no real reason to change it other than the purely aesthetic, which isn't a reason to change anything. If it works, keep it.

    What I think both Movieverse versions of Bumblebee have proven is that there is no real need for CGI characters to have lips or a human-like face to give them emotion and expression. If you know how to do it right, you can get expression out of anything.

    A non-Transformers example? Kaa in the 2016 Jungle Book, who was both a very emotive character as body language was concerned and could talk without looking freaky, despite having the rough facial range of a real-life Indian python (i.e. no eyelids, eyebrows or lips).

    If you can make Scarlett Johansson's voice come out of a photoreal Indian python convincingly, you can make giant robots expressive even without a humanoid face.
     
  12. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave The Fox

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    I think it also depends on the individual character. A pretty common "rule" in art is that the more detail and lines you add to a face, the older it looks. Hence why designs like Sentinel Prime and TLK Megatron look okay with human-looking faces. Plus, they're villains, so it's fine if they look a bit uncanny. I don't think someone like Bumblebee would ever look good in live-action with a human face, because he's supposed to look youthful. And you just can't make him look youthful if you have to cover his face in joints so he can have a moving mouth.

    I don't think that's an awful design, but even that has a bit of an uncanny look to it. Especially the last panel. I could see a design like this looking good on a different character. But there's a major problem with this design as Bumblebee. Bumblebee is supposed to be youthful. In giving him a mouth, they had to add all sort of lines and joints to make the mouth movable. Which makes him look more like a middle-aged man than a teenager. This would probably look pretty bad if you were to model this design in live-action.

    I think they made the right call giving him the speaker mouth. It kept his face simple and really sold the idea that he was supposed to be a young robot. Quite frankly, I don't think I've ever seen a design (even a fan design) for live-action Bumblebee that gives him a mouth and makes him look youthful. It's possible that it could be done, but it's going to be inherently problematic.
     
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  13. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    There's also the reason that I think many people find robots with smooth, human-looking faces creepy - it's bad memories from I, Robot for most people. The I, Robot faces are an example of how not to design something - I didn't like the faces in AOE and TLK, because they looked too humanoid.

    I like the intricate, panelled faces for the first trilogy Autobots, as well as TLK Megatron, because they look quite alien and robotic, whilst still being emotive.

    I sincerely hope they don't keep the liquid-metal faces on the robots in the Cybertron scene in Bumblebee for future films - that will turn audiences off like a light. Look at what people thought of I, Robot.

    The other reason is it makes him unique; I've always thought that Transformers faces were too interchangeable - it's just mouths, mouthplates and Shockwave. A few speaker-mouths, mandibles and whatever Dropkick had that flashed when he spoke would be much appreciated.

    And before people start saying the characters wouldn't be emotive if they did that, both Movieverse versions of Bumblebee, as well as Bayverse Frenzy, have proven is that there is no real need for CGI characters to have lips or a human-like face to give them emotion and expression. If you know how to do it right, you can get expression out of anything.

    A non-Transformers example? Kaa in the 2016 Jungle Book, who was both a very emotive character as body language was concerned and could talk without looking freaky, despite having the rough facial range of a real-life Indian python (i.e. no eyelids, eyebrows or lips).
     
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  14. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave The Fox

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    I tend to agree. I love the G1 aesthetic, but a lot of the faces (ignoring the helmet part) are very samey. And interestingly enough, most of the really popular designs have face masks or visors or some other non-human element. Optimus, Soundwave, Grimlock, Shockwave, etc. People love Megatron's helmet, but how often do people talk about his face?

    I would also point to K-2SO from Rogue One. He is often regarded as the character with the most personality in that movie, and all of his expression came from eye movements, body language, and head tilts. R2 and C-3PO have even less expression in their faces and also have a lot of personality. I don't think the Transformers need to be that restrictive, but it goes to show that good voice acting, clever camera work, and appealing desgins can do just as much as facial expressions.
     
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  15. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    A bit uncanny, I'll give you that but I think that's moreso due to our deep rooted primal fear of things that look as if they're imitating humanity. It will inevitably trigger that instinct in people, like looking at a robot with a very real, but obviously artificial face put onto it that doesn't move quite right. I think he looks youthful enough, I don't think Bee is meant to be a teenager, or at least I don't think he should be. Cybes don't age like we do, so it feels arbitrary to get hung up on that detail. He's meant to be a brave scout that goes where others aren't willing or can't, that doesn't exactly make me think of a teenager.

    Er... now you've lost me. How does having a speaker mouth 'sell the idea' that he's meant to be young? Speakers aren't related to youth, last I checked. It's fine that you feel that way but all the designs I posted are superior, more accurate and honestly better than what Bayformers Bee had, I don't think he needs to look youthful cuz he's not human, let alone a teenager. Even if he was built or forged yesterday and looked that way, I could still believe he was 'young'.

    Besides current Bay Bee doesn't look young or 'youthful' either, I know he behaves like a child at key moments for comedy's sake but I could say the exact same thing about Bay Bumblebee, but I probably wouldn't since getting hung up on age in such a literal manner with these aliens seems pointless.

    [​IMG]

    To drive home my first point, Sophia often makes people uneasy and gives them that uncanny feeling because it's an AI dressed in a human-like body, it plays on deep rooted fear in our psyche, which is why films like The Thing or the Terminator films often creep us out so much. Even though the Autobots are meant to be heroic, I can easily see people feeling unnerved by their human-like faces. There's simply something innately unsettling about something that isn't human trying to look like us.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  16. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave The Fox

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    Bee might not be a literal teenager, but he's still supposed to be "the young guy" on the team. That's basically his character, and has been since G1. I feel like the design should reflect that, in the same way that Megatron should look like a bad guy or Optimus should look strong and leader-like. It would be weird to have a youthful voice coming out of an old-looking robot. It's not just a matter of how the Transformers age in-universe (which has always been iffy), it's also a matter of making sure the visuals line up with what we're hearing. The average moviegoing Joe should be able to look at a lineup of Transformers and pick out Bumblebee as "the young one".

    I'm not saying the speaker itself makes him look young, I'm saying that the lack of a mouth (with a bunch of joints and seam lines) makes him look young. Plus, the speaker is round...and round things tend to look cuter. And cuteness is often associated with youthfulness. That may sound goofy, but these are real tactics that art designers use. There's a reason they gave him a round (or oval shaped) speaker instead of a square speaker.

    I think the face in the movie looks very youthful. Granted more baby-like than "young guy", but still youthful. How accurate it is to G1 isn't hugely important. What matters is that the design conveyed what it needed to. It conveyed a young, lovable, innocent, and vulnerable underdog (which is what was needed for this particular story). I'd say that's good art design.

    And I think that comic design (or something similar) would work for Bumblebee in a different story. For instance, maybe if they were to do a story where Bumblebee is a bit older and more experienced. It worked in a comic where Bumblebee is a more experienced secret agent. It could definitely work in the right context. But the 2018 movie called for a Bee that was supposed to look lovable and vulnerable.

    By "current Bay Bee" do you mean TLK Bee? If so, I completely agree. I don't think the Bumblebee from the Bay movies (1-5) looks youthful. I like aspects of that design, but I personally wouldn't hold it up as particularly good art design. I certainly don't think it conveys what it's supposed to.

    Travis Knight and his designers took that design and made it more friendly for the 2018 movie. I think the Travis Knight design looks quite youthful and is a very good design.

    But should the Autobots have that effect? I'd argue not. Not unless the plot calls for them to be unsettling for some reason. The Terminator is basically a movie monster, so it's fine for it to look creepy...that's the desired effect. Even the good Terminators are supposed to feel a bit unnatural. Not to mention the good Terminators usually stay in their human form. If you see a Terminator in full creepy skeleton form, it's usually one of the bad ones.

    Again, it's best for the visuals to reflect what the movie is trying to say. If you have a heroic robot that looks a bit creepy, it's going to make the audience question whether that robot is good or bad. Some movies do that very well. The robot in Ex Machina was intentionally designed to have a slight uncanny valley look, to make the audience question whether she's trustworthy or not. The Transformers movies don't try to make the audience think that the Autobots might be secretly bad or anything like that. Some of the human government characters question the Autobots, but the movies always make it clear that the Autobots are the good guys, and the characters who doubt the Autobots are usually made to look like fools. If the uncanny look is intentional, it's sending an unwanted mixed message (a message that actually goes against what the script is telling us).[/QUOTE]
     
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  17. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    You haven't articulated as to why, in your opinion, they are "superior, more accurate and honestly better" - by the way, you've just made a redundant statement, in the sense you've said three synonyms for the same thing as separate points.

    Personally, I like the speaker face because it makes Bumblebee unique; I've always thought that Transformers faces were too samey - the G1 faces are just mouths, mouthplates and Shockwave. The new Movieverse using the Bayverse's speaker-mouths and mandibles, or something like whatever Dropkick had that flashed when he spoke would be much appreciated.

    Here's the problem, many people, myself included, find live-action robots with humanoid faces creepy - it's bad memories from I, Robot for me. The I, Robot faces are an example of how not to design something - I didn't like the faces in AOE and TLK, because they looked too humanoid.

    Nobody wants Transformers faces like the ones in I, Robot.

    And the other reason is, both Movieverse Bee's emoted incredibly well with the speaker-mouthed face. If the face emotes well and conveys the character's personality, that is doing it right. There's no real reason to change it other than the purely aesthetic, which isn't a reason to change anything. If it works, keep it.

    Exactly - and that's an argument for moving away from human faces and in favour of speaker-mouths and mandibles. You have just invalidated your argument. Humanoid faces on the robots work in a 2D cartoon - in a live action movie, they're bloody creepy. They invoke the uncanny valley like hell. Look at, again, I, Robot - and wonder how people responded to that.

    What I think both Movieverse versions of Bumblebee have proven is that there is no real need for CGI characters to have lips or a human-like face to give them emotion and expression - and it's a more impressive accomplishment from an effects standpoint, anyhow. Somehow, a Bumblebee with a more G1-like face would feel like a step backwards, when we've learned that CGI characters don't need human-like faces to be expressive.
     
  18. tfgato

    tfgato Member

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    Shatter is the best IMO, also Sentinel, Hound and Lockdown are acceptable, thankfully Optimus only has a faceplate again, he was the creepiest to me.
     

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  19. Magnum Dongus

    Magnum Dongus Stupid Idiot

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    I really don’t like it when Transformers have beards. If they have ornamental pieces or colored marks on their face that are meant to emulate a facial hair look, I don’t mind. But when I see them with actual big, bushy, floppy wire beards I can’t help but wonder why the hell a robot would have that on their face.
     
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  20. Rodimal Rodimus

    Rodimal Rodimus Agent of Unit:E

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    All the more reason why I prefer TFP/RID's look