Will we ever have completely digital actors intermingling with real ones? Will we soon have feature films where dead actors are brought back to life through the miracle of CGI and motion capture? Will computer generated images of humans ever be so good that we can’t distinguish them from the real thing in any way?
It seems strange to be actually writing these words knowing that I’m not penning a work of science fiction. We’ve talked about this stuff for a very long time. But it’s different now, because this is real. It’s a real topic for debate because we have the technical ability to do this now.
As you can see from the picture at the top of this article, there’s no difficulty (but still an immense amount of skill) for artists, with the right technology, to make a human face that’s extremely, ultra, hyper-realistic. And motion capture has solved many of the issues that haunted films like The Polar Express where the characters were motion-captured, but, ultimately, unconvincing. Avatar got round this problem to some extent with detailed facial capture, but, quite clearly, we’re not authorities on the facial features of real Na’vi, so we’re not in a position to judge or be repelled by the accuracy of their representation in the film. We weren’t so lucky with Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, which was a perfectly charming and effective film, despite the creepiness of the motion-captured actors.
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