Corridor Digital, the VFX company founded by Niko Pueringer and Sam Gorski, started out as a simple YouTube skit channel working alongside Freddie Wong of Rocketjump. While Rocketjump’s YouTube channel went silent after doing projects for Hulu, Corridor Digital has focused on YouTube, expanding to the behind the scenes channel Corridor Crew, which does other computer animated special effects project, reactions to stunts and animation by actual stunt people animators. and side projects focusing on various topics. They’re very busy over there.
While producing shows for YouTube and their own subscription-based website for longer and more intensive videos, the team has decided to try their hand at animation, but not with the normal animation techniques. In addition to learning programs like Unreal for their animations they opted for a new process of AI animation as a new form of rotoscoping that they recently dropped a try-out for. I’ll show you that surrounded by two other videos. One came out before, highlighting the new technique, and after we see the results we’ll focus on how they made that particular animation. Then I’m going to judge the daylights out of it because I saw part of it on Literature Devil’s Morning Nonsense stream and frankly it’s a work in progress.
First let’s look at the process itself, in video from February 26th of 2023. So if you want the shirt get a move on unless you already missed it. Niko is clearly excited about this new AI rotoscoping.
It’s a lot more work than just a filter. I was watching this on Literature Devil’s Morning Nonsense stream today…half-asleep because I had trouble falling asleep last night and I was watching on the unused smartphone that serves as my bedside bed because there’s no room for a regular TV, so this is my first time watching it without interruption on a decent screen, aka my computer monitor. So let’s see the final results. This is “Anime Rock, Paper, Scissors”.
I’m not surprised that they went for the same kind of exaggeration they do in the live-action “anime” videos, even though it comes off less like imitating anime and more like imitating the Wachowskis imitating anime in their take on Speed Racer. I’m not a fan of that style frankly. It comes off more as a parody than actually trying to mimic the Japanese animation style. Frankly, the callout flashback sequence looked better because it wasn’t such an exaggeration. The art itself does match the Vampire Hunter D footage they showed and it doesn’t look bad. The animation just looks very uncanny because it’s trying to look human but also trying to look like a cartoon. The more photorealistic you try to make something the less realistic it becomes. That’s why artists and animators take liberties to not represent the real world but not imitate it. It’s why A Scanner Darkly never impressed me with its animation style.
On the Morning Nonsense dream, host Literature Devil was joined by computer modeler and animator Shiney FX and artist Eerie The Ghost, formerly going by The Bored Enthusiast (separate channels). I wish I could just show you that part but I don’t know how YouTube’s “clip” feature work. When the recording goes to member mode I don’t know if it disappears or if it shows up on my channel. I don’t think it does unless you’re a member and he has to save the streams that way because of YouTube’s algorithm. Eerie said that it looked like a filter, which I think they did for A Scanner Darkly, and it’s a feature I have on my video editor. Shiney pointed out numerous times the AI didn’t properly redraw a frame or set of frames, making hands look deformed, numerous clipping issues, teeth either disappearing or gaining an extra set, one moment where Niko’s eyes gain an extra pupil while looking at their father, and that in the dancing scene Niko’s character and the woman he’s dancing with don’t mesh well. Of course they do more in this field than the special effects added to live-action skits Corridor Digital is known for. Lit Dev also noted that they don’t look like brothers since they look like Niko and Dean, though someone in the chat suggested they could be fraternal twins.
I’m a bit annoyed evil wins, but it does set up the montage of the “series” as Dean’s character (did they even have names?) journeys Batman-style to become the ultimate Rock, Paper, Crossblades (attempting to put a fantasy twist on “scissors”…I’m neutral on that) master and reclaim the crown while Niko’s character lives in luxury. We know he’s the villain not only for eliminating his own father but Dean’s character states that the kingdom is in a sorry state and the people are struggling. The art isn’t terrible but when animated in this style is when the flaws shine through, especially when the actors start exaggerating their facial expression attempting to look as dramatic as the game and ending up hit or miss. I said, the art is fine when it’s static but when they start moving the uncanny valley can come into play and the AI rendering isn’t quite ready yet.
As a proof of concept this works very well. Work on the flaws (not that the comments offered anything other than glowing praise) and it might have merit. Right now however, it’s not quite ready for a major project. They may want to stick to what they’re doing while trying to iron out the problems. I don’t think it will replace other animation styles but if mocap can work as an animation tool this “AI rotoscoping” technique might have possibilities someday.