One Polar Express CGI glitch made it into the final cut of the movie and VFX artists Corridor Crew are explaining how it could’ve been missed.
While notable for its technology, one Polar Express CGI glitch made its way into the final film, as noted by VFX artists Corridor Crew. Based on Chris Van Allsburg’s children novel of the same name, the 2004 film centers on a young boy who finds himself invited aboard the titular magical train headed for the North Pole with several other children to meet Santa Claus before he heads off into the night to deliver Christmas presents. Starring Tom Hanks in multiple roles, The Polar Express became popular for its use of motion-capture technology in order to recreate the iconic imagery of Van Allsburg’s picture book.
In the latest episode of the group’s “VFX Artists React” series, Corridor Crew looked back at the cult classic Christmas animated adventure, The Polar Express.
The VFX artist group take particular notice of a scene nearly the latter portion of the film in which the kids aboard the eponymous locomotive finally arrive at the North Pole, greeted by a large group of elves. The trio highlight a CGI glitch in the film in which one of the elves was left without any animations, resulting in them simply floating along the ground. The group go on to discuss how the Polar Express CGI glitch likely made it into the film, citing everything from a potential broken file to server overload. Check out their breakdown of the glitch at the 13:10 mark in the video above:
How The Polar Express Was A Landmark In CGI Filmmaking
Though partly utilized in the years before its release, The Polar Express became a landmark in CGI filmmaking for being the first fully-motion-capture movie. Hanks, who had worked with Robert Zemeckis previously on their Oscar-winning Forrest Gump and Oscar-nominated film Cast Away, was the motion capture reference for six characters, including the unnamed lead character. Zemeckis had initially planned to have him play more characters, though changed this idea after realizing the toll it was taking on his star.
At the time of its release, The Polar Express was met with mixed reviews from critics in regard to its motion-capture filmmaking, with some praising the stunning visuals, while others felt it veered too close to the uncanny valley. This wouldn’t deter Zemeckis, however, as the near-two-decades since have seen him further experiment with this technology, even just a few years after with his adaptation of Beowulf. He would even get back into the holiday spirit with the Jim Carrey-led adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
While Zemeckis and Hanks’ latest collaboration, Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, may have proven to be a misfire, there’s no denying the groundwork laid for fully-motion-captured movies the two made with The Polar Express. The unique CGI technology has since become a trademark for much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as that of James Cameron’s Avatar films. As Zemeckis embarks on a number of new projects, including a movie adaptation of Here reuniting him with Forrest Gump collaborators Hanks, Robin Wright and screenwriter Eric Roth, it will be interesting to see if he ventures back to the technology he helped popularize.