Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Peni-mator, Halle Berry, the Watchmen and Twitter

Back when I used to be a technical director for animated TV commercials, I worked on a project in which a CG brand character had to interact with Halle Berry while she swam around in a pool wearing a skimpy bikini. This meant that I had to be present on the set while they filmed the live action footage so that I could measure everything in exhaustive detail in order to ensure the seamless integration of the animated character with the live action elements--including the bikini-clad Halle Berry. I repeat, I had to measure everything.

People who heard about this aspect of my job were envious, but the sad reality is that examining sexy things in minute technical detail is kind of awkward and robs them of much of their appeal.

I mention this because a friend of a friend of mine was reading the previous blog entry about Dr. Manhattan's CG Johnson in the Watchmen and recounted a story about how a friend of his (that's right, a friend of a friend of a friend) knew the guy who had to full body digitize Angelina Jolie (and her playboy bunny body double) for her role in Beowulf. The friend of my friend thought that job of the friend of his friend would be less bad than the job of being the peni-mator for Dr. Manhattan.

In case you are wondering, peni-mator is the official technical term for a person who animates a CG person's business. As opposed to the peni-modeler, who is the person who has to build the CG business, or the peni-master, who is the person who has to get the CG business ready to be animated by the peni-mator.

Anyway, the point is that I don't know which is worse. Based on my own experiences, I suspect the friend of my friend is only partly right. I think it might, indeed, have sucked more to have built Doc Manhattan's CG business (or scanned it, or whatever) than to digitize a naked Angelina Jolie. But I think it probably wouldn't have been that big a deal to animate the CG business. Sure, it was probably weird--especially if it involved extensive viewing (or even the creation) of unfortunately detailed reference footage, but it was probably less weird than the building and rigging of the Johnson itself.

At the end of the day, however, I'll admit that I just don't know for sure. So consider this an open invitation. If you are the person (or persons) who did any of these things, from building Doc Manhattan's CG junk to scanning Angelina Jolie's nakedness, or if you are a person who has done something similar, write in and let me know about your experiences. Or comment here for the world to see. After all, that is the true purpose of the Internet, isn't it? To facilitate the growth of human knowledge and thereby improve the human condition?

Oh, and apparently, also to watch porn. And to socialize with people on Facebook. Oh, and to tweet on Twitter.

P.S. Thanks to Tony, the friend of my friend, for the inspired coining of the term Peni-mator.


Unknown said...

Don't forget the peni-rigger -- the person who adds the, um, skeleton (!) to the CG model for the peni-mator to, um, manipulate. Hhrrmm... a whole new use for a data glove.

Interestingly enough, in the late 60's, the term 'rig' was slang for a johnson. And so the circle is now complete.

Jim Hardison said...

Ah, Tony! Thank you for touching on a sensitive subject. Wink.

When I worked as a technical director, the term we used to refer to rigging a CG model with a skeleton was "boning". So, the Peni-rigger in this instance would have been responsible for boning Dr. Manhattan's Johnson--his rig, his kit, his tool, his dingus, his thing, his schlong, his subwoofer...Okay, I just made that one up.