The LA Times and NY Times recently published articles on synthespians (all-digital actors); although both would be described as "think pieces," their main purpose seems to be hyping two upcoming movies: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Simone. (By posting and mentioning those titles, I'm playing my part in the spin-cycle. Where do I pick up my check?) The LA Times piece is better, because it's more of a straight trade-mag account of the new processes and film industry responses to them. (I love that the article mentions Tron, even though I disagree that it "set back computer animation by a decade": its retro-futurist approach looks better than a lot of what's being produced now!) The NY Times piece, "Perfect Model: Gorgeous, No Complaints, Made of Pixels" by Ruth La Ferla, is more annoying, because it's hype disguised as criticism: lots of mock-profound gushing from people in the synthetic human biz, with the obligatory quote from a culture-studies prof. One concept mentioned in the LAT article is "the uncanny valley," a principle of robotics that says the more an android resembles a human, the more we focus on the minute differences between us and it. This makes sense, and would seem neatly to demolish the NYT's pitch about virtual models and actresses.
- Tom Moody 5-09-2001 4:24 pm


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