Monday, July 14, 2008

As predicted virtual humans are becoming popular. Unfortunately the most common ones are the brain dead ones on the phone. And then there are the virtual human actors that creep us out, like in Polar Express and Beowulf...although the latter had definite improvement. It seems the film makers, especially Robert Zemecks, just don't understand the psychological factors involved in creating believable virtual actors. It's doable with todays technology. The problem is that they rely too much on technology and not enough on the art of virtual human design. They don't do anything with the personality to overcome the botox faces that creep us out.

It's possible to write scripts for virtual human actors that will help them overcome the limitations on motion capture, but more than that, we need hand animated nuances that are lost entirely in the MoCap.

Thankfully, Dr. Paul Debevec who's contributed so much to the vfx industry, is teaming up with Image Metrics in Venice, California, to help bring in a new generation in face motion capture. Done at extremely high resolutions on a pixel tracking basis, the results should virtually eliminate the Botox look. I understand some of this new technology is being used in the Benjamin Buttons movie and that we won't be able to tell the virtual actor from the real one. I'll believe it when I see it as the movie is due for release shortly.

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