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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

Computer animation replacing humans? Not for a while!

A couple of coworkers hazarded with films like Shrek and Final Fantasy(trailer), that soon there would be no need for screen based actors.

Ironically the reverse of how it started. Originally they were faces without voices, now they'd be voices without faces. Personally, I think the time is decades off. Yes, we're talking 20-50 years.

I've explained to people that when they try to computer generate a living creature, (For example: The L.A. Times had a trailer in local cinemas showing a computer generated Basset Hound), that something in my brain just won't buy it. I have yet to be fooled.

Happily, an article has come out supporting my reasons. Quite simply, when animated figures don't look entirely human. Take Shrek for example, the characters are likable. Even the evil ones. But if you pass too close to human, (such as many of the newest video games), the figures become disquieting and a bit spooky. See examples by Brian Carpenter here and here.

There is some mystery of 'life' or that spark that animators just can't reproduce. The mind is programmed to detect those little inconsistencies that make something look 'not quite right'

I will admit, the person that figures out this miraculous, "Xeno's last step" is gonna be rich. On the downside, I take solace for now that they can't fool me into believing someone fake is someone real.

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call routine turing_score_keeper

The Brian Carpenter-based clips are impressive; some of the best I've seen, although the mouth movements when he's speaking don't look at all natural. When he's not speaking, the creepiness, to me, seems mostly due to the eyes, which are too "perfect-looking"; there are some technical details involved in making the eyes look less piercing, but I can imagine those being solvable in a year or two. I do think that we'll have indistinguishably "real-looking" virtual actors within ten years.

Note, though, that this sort of animation, which is intensively motion-capture based, certainly does not eliminate the actor -- someone has to perform the motion capture, and that person is acting the role whether his/her actual skin shows on screen or not.

What this does open up -- and I think this is very exciting and will be the future of film acting eventually (say, 30 years or more from now) -- is the possibility that an actor's actual physical appearance won't have much to do with what roles he or she can play. You want Tom Hanks, in his 70s, to play your 20-year-old romantic lead? No problem -- he can capture the performance which will be applied to a virtual thespian. All of Tom's acting skill and ability to evoke nuanced emotion will be put to good use, and the filmmakers will be able to have the best of both worlds.

The future of movie stardom may have a lot more to do with actual talent and a lot less to do with a person's physical appearance. This could be a good thing.

But did you have to go and mention the stupid Rythym and Hues Beagle?

George Lucas predicted in the ealry 90s that the need for actors would have been eliminated by now. I am so glad he's wrong. Honestly, I don't think that actors will be replaced in my lifetime- because people like me will always be willing to pay to watch talented human beings tell stories to the rest of us. We still watch theatre, don't we? The Lysistata is just as funny and amusing now as it was 2500 years ago, isn't it? Even if the day comes where we cannot tell the difference between a graphic and a real person, films made without actors will suffer from having too much control by a single person, just the way films edited by their directors end up being disjointed and 99 times out of one hundred, failures.

Remember the rocket in that old movie about space flight...like 50's or 60's? Basically they had to change the movie cuz the rocket technology was too real and useful by enemies and the government didnt have control over it.

You'd be surprised what can actually be done already...but when you cant tell the difference on digital media...who says who can frame who or what?

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