I met Neil Krepla at a birthday party today. Neil has been a visual effects supervisor on many movies over the last n years (n > 20). We had a nice talk about the benefits of Renderman over ray tracing, interesting changes in visual effects over the last n years (n > 20), how he watches visual effect films and many other topics.
We spent a good amount of time talking about human faces, and the difficulties and failures of human face animation that make it so unconvincing. I suggested that the Final Fantasy production team did a pretty good job of animating human faces and he said that they did a good job with poses, but once they moved, they gave themselves away. He explained to me one of the big flaws of The Polar Express was that you could not see the childrens' souls in their eyes. I said, "I just don't understand why they do it. If it's unconvincing, if they can't hide the fact that a human face is a visual effect, I'd just rather not have them do it."* He said the new Lemony Snicket movie has a young child, and that they did a surprisingly effective and seamless integration of a CG representation with twin child actors which was important because, hey, you couldn't have a two-year-old performing all these dangerous stunts. Apparently this movie is actually successful in pulling it off. I'm interested in seeing for myself.
Here's an article about CG on Lemony Snicket, and Sunny in particular.
* Ok, I didn't really say that, but I'm making the story flow.