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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Co-director Motonori Sakakibara, sequence supervisor Hiroyuki Hayashida, sets & props lead artist Tatsuro Maruyama, and Phantom supervisor Takao Noguchi (in Japanese with English or French subtitles) Rating:7.0/10 (4 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by pat00139 on February 28th, 2006:Find all reviews by pat00139
First off, these guys are having so much fun. They laugh at almost everything and anything. They reminisce about older versions of the movie, and remember the work they'd started to do 4 years before. While making the DVD, they found about 50 versions of the script. They also expand on whatís happening on screen. Sometimes they say things that might already be fairly obvious from watching the movie, like why Gray and Aki are on the gondola, but other times they explain things that might not be too clear, like the hawk and the ending. They also joke about some things, like during some simulations, characters were missing heads or clothes (which must have been pretty funny during the love scene). They also talk a lot about how hard some of the shots were, especially the lighting. They say they spent up to 3 months just for one shot at times. They even explain Asian beliefs, and how they relate to the Gaia theory running through the movie (and most of the games). Itís all very interesting with some dead time but not too much. Worth listening to very much. Oh yeah, this track is in Japanese, with optional English or French subtitles (thank you to Columbia for the French subtitles Ė those donít appear much on R1 commentaries).
Commentary 2: Animation director Andy Jones, editor Chris S. Capp, and staging director Tani Kunitake Rating:6.0/10 (5 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by pat00139 on February 28th, 2006:Find all reviews by pat00139
These three guys arenít as animated as the Japanese fellows (not many are), but they still do provide a very nice track. Itís very informative. Theyíre watching the movie and talk about whateverís on screen. Itís a fairly relaxed track, and interesting to listen to. You hear, for instance that it took about a year to get the look of the barrier cities right. They talk about the evolution of the Phantoms. The editor talks a lot about what he cut out. There seems to have been a lot of scenes that were cut out (and that arenít in this set in any way, shape or form). They praise a lot of the lead animators, the storyboard artists, the voice actors, the motion capture actors and directors. They talk a lot about motion capture. They mention what was captured and what was key-framed. They also mention the lighting and how great it looked at times. One really interesting thing is that you find out about the meaning behind the final part of the movie being in the Caspian Mountains. The guys talk through most of the track, and they provide for some nice jokes a few times, and a lot of information (something, Iíve found, which is not lacking in this set). Itís not as nice as the Japanese track, but is still well worth hearing.
Reviewed by grimjack on December 10th, 2020:Find all reviews by grimjack
One of those commentaries that makes you both appreciate and dislike the film more. Why? Because by explaining so many parts of the film that werent obvious (after just seeing it), you realize all the different ways the makers failed to make us understand what they did. They explain little things by pointing out scanners on a ship that meant nothing, how the barriers work, or the falling sparkles in the beginning. And the really big thing was explaining more of the plot.

Yes, the plot is more obtuse rather than nonsense, which is what one usually thinks when they hear the term incomprehensible. But when they explain how this world works, and point out things like a pregnant hero at the end, and its like ... Wait, that is what was going on there? Did anyone watching this understand that the alien Gaia was sort of infecting Earth Gaia at end because of the laser cannon, otherwise everything would have been saved and fine anyway? There is at least five times where they point out a number of things like how things work, and what the point was of various moments, and extras in background reappearing for a reason.

But most of this commentary is technical. And interesting, when you realize how many things software still could not do, and they did by hand. They constantly point out what is motion captured vs keyframed. And which shots were so difficult, and how hard it was to animate certain things or characters. Most of the hands were keyframed, and it sounds like motion capturing wasnt up to the challenge for hand movement or even facial expressions yet.

In truth, even after twenty years, you could learn a lot about how to animate faces, people, and how objects interact, by listening to just the first 30 minutes of this commentary.

Their amazement at having two fully animated characters arguing, and circling each other while they yelled. It seems so easy and casual, but they talk about multiple motion capturing, and plotting out where people stand, as they could not do it at the same time. And it sounds like the motion capturing took so long, with so many corrections, that none of the voice actors did the motion. And some characters were motion captured by the same person, only one time would be in sneakers, and the other in heels, to make them seem more feminine.

They constantly point out various details that I think we took for granted, even back when I saw it in the theaters. Things like the wind blowing clothing. Running fingers through hair (which I think they said took the most hours to figure out AND to render). Talked about reflections looking wrong because to save time they didnt animate the face because character was shot from the back, and didnt know they would be in front of glass.