Why do animated CG characters always feel fake?

Usually if a CG character is an animal (or humanoid creature), they tend too look kinda off. Their movement tends to look oddly smooth or lightweight, even if aided with motion capture. Compare to real human or animal movement which is jagged, and has slight irregularity or weight. It doesn't matter whether the texture looks photorealistic, the movement of CG characters always feels off.

I'm guessing it's because the animation curves for the final images are smoothed out or simplified, like smoothing a bezier curve or something. Is that the case? Is absolute, true-to-life movement possible for CG characters?

  • $\begingroup$ It's possible, however if you have an issue with the interpolation part specifically, then you'll just need to sample the temporal domain more finely. $\endgroup$
    – lightxbulb
    Feb 21, 2019 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm quite sure you have seen full CG characters in some movies especially vfx heavy ones, without even realizing that the creatures are CG. In most cases you only recognize the bad ones. And very often your reception is biased if you know that the creatures are not real, e.g. the Hulk, or Arnold in Terminator Genisys. $\endgroup$
    – haggi krey
    Mar 6, 2019 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @haggikrey Cats are real, but the end credits scene where a cat from that recent movie coughs out that cube thing still looks fake. It's especially noticeable if the creatures are real, in fact, because you're more familiar with real things than something completely made up like say giant alien robots. The only CG I never noticed was CG of inanimate things, like in The Wolf of Wall Street. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2019 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


Because animators haven't fully bridged the uncanny valley.

There are a ton of little details you notice subconsciously that hasn't been fully mapped out.

Things like how muscles and tendons move under the surface, how clothing and hair behaves as you move around. Even how you adjust your stance as you move your arms around, prepare to move, etc.

Even with mocap it is difficult to capture and recreate all that. It is also not trivial to capture the movement of the fingers.


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