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James Cameron On How Avatar Technology Could Keep Actors Young

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hollywood-can't-wait-to-abuse-this dept.

Movies 404

Suki I writes "An article at EW discusses another use for Avatar's sophisticated motion-capture technology: 'Sure, it's terrific for turning human actors into big blue alien Na'vis. But the photorealistic CGI technology James Cameron perfected for Avatar could easily be used for other, even more mind-blowing purposes — like, say, bringing Humphrey Bogart back to life, or making Clint Eastwood look 35 again. "How about another Dirty Harry movie where Clint looks the way he looked in 1975?" Cameron suggests. "Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Doctor No? How cool would that be?"' The article goes on to quote Cameron as saying you would still need actors to play the roles, and that an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere."

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH no (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797888)

NO

Re:HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH no (1, Redundant)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797896)

A one word AC first that's also pretty much exactly what I wanted to say? I need to mark this on the calendar.

A certain fly comes to mind.. (1)

Ricken (797341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797906)

Maybe they can finally continue FireFly. No need for actors any more!

Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (5, Insightful)

shidarin'ou (762483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797914)

Those weren't humans, they were blue skinned aliens with very different facial features. The uncanny valley was not addressed, so we have no idea how this "photoreal" technology stands up to that close inspection.

I'm far far FAR from unbiased on this, but if you wanted to speculate on making actors look younger, you'd still be better served looking at Benjamin Button.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (3, Insightful)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798034)

The article covers what you mention. Sigourney Weaver's Avatar looks 20 years younger than the real "version". The CGI is described as accurate enough to replicate the actor down to the pours. My take was that it gives the director another tool for making an interesting movie and they still can't replicate what is inside the actor's head.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798154)

replicate the actor down to the pours

pores?

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (3, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798248)

replicate the actor down to the pours

pores?

No, no, it really is "pours" ... see it's very hard to mimic the way an actor pours milk.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798282)

replicate the actor down to the pours

pores?

LOL, my bad usage.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798126)

I don't know for sure but I thought some of the "real" scenes were also CGIed - specifically, the scenes where the jarhead records his log at the various stations - to me they looked completely artificial - and the uncanny valley effect was there.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798262)

I don't know for sure but I thought some of the "real" scenes were also CGIed

I thought they all were. Wasn't that the point ?

Input-Output... (4, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798128)

Input part - the facial-capture tech is obviously ready. At most it may need some tweaking.

The output part... Like you said. Uncanny valley effect may still be present with humans. BUT..
Considering that Battle Angel*, which Cameron plans to do as (one of) his next project(s) is based around exactly that kind of implementation of the technology - I'd say that he is more than "just talking".

*The main character is a 200+ year old cyborg girl that changes several bodies throughout the story while keeping the same face and similar body size)

Re:Input-Output... (4, Insightful)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798276)

At most it may need some tweaking.

That's what my boss usually says right before I pull a week of all-nighters

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798238)

You are correct but still, for the most part the Na'vi did look real and more importantly they looked alive.

I've looked at the movie and at high-res stills and I never thought "this looks so fake". In fact, one scene with a Samson helicopter and a bunch of mercenaries did look like CGI to me; then, reading Cinefex I saw a picture of the scene and it was real (1:1 model of the helicopter, the people and even some of the grass)

I am doing 3d work (not at that level) and I usually know where to look for imperfections... the only place I could spot things looking fake was in the night scenes with the Na'vi tribesmen by the fire... the light on their faces was wrong, way to orange. Again, in the Cinefex article this was alluded - they had to make a special shader for that, otherwise blue skin + orange light = zombie gray.

Re:Avatar did not address the uncanny valley (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798320)

Note that what we call "Hollywood looks" is a sort of uncanny valley we learned to love. Were you in front of someone really as good looking as a movie star after make-up and post-processing, you would certainly have an uncanny valley feeling. But when seen through the screen, that looks okay. Actually, many actors are already being "smoothed" in movies and pictures.

What's next? (0, Redundant)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797916)

So, for example, we'll have a secondary actor who plays the role of a big star who is also playing the role of an historical character...

If thats the future of Hollywood actors/movies, looks quite depressing....

Re:What's next? (2, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798014)

depressing for the big stars who can no longer demand a jetplane or two as part of their fee...

We might get a few new talented actors working instead, Joe Wannabe as Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca 2.

That's got to be better than remaking a modern version of Casablanca with, say, Brad Pitt.

Re:What's next? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798164)

You mean like in terminator salvation?

Ethical line ? In movies ? (3, Informative)

bytesex (112972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797920)

"and that an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere."

Eh. No.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (3, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797954)

Yeah, this coming from a guy who tried to murder an entire alien civilization for our viewing pleasure.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (0, Redundant)

velja27 (1427879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798210)

How many times have i told you that that wasn't real.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (3, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798278)

but it *looked* so real.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798216)

Yeah, this coming from a guy who tried to murder an entire alien civilization for our viewing pleasure.

How many times does this need to be pointed out? They weren't the aliens. We were!

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797956)

Exactly. It's one easy step to go to popular "celebrities" being "imaged" into a pr0n.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797962)

"and that an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere."

Eh. No.

Look at all the people that get upset when their favorite pop star is discovered to be lip syncing during a concert - making an otherwise terrible performance tolerable for the most part. Imagine the outrage when they find out that their favorite actor delivered lines in a studio while a "B" actor was on set performing.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (1)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797970)

Looks like Matrix, as long as you believe it's real, IT IS REAL

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798122)

It needs to be drawn, then it will be halved, quartered, burned, crushed, pulverized, vulcanized, and otherwise obliterated, and probably all on this sick pit called the internet.

The future that _I_ see is much more realistic and unethical. For instance, when this becomes cheaper to use, the porn
industry will be all over it. Once you cross that twain, anything is possible. These people have no ethics and no limits.
Marilyn Monroe? Sure, we can do that. Hitler butt fucking Stalin? Yes, we can definfitely do that. What about adults controlling
the likeness of non adults. Is that child porn?

Posting AC obv.

Re:Ethical line ? In movies ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798414)

I don't see anything unethical there. Let's take that Hitler+Stalin having sex, for example. Why exactly is it unethical? Does it hurt Hitler's feelings? Hell, I am a communist (not only on internet forums but am actually active in a political party, etc.) and still don't find that so offensive.

You gave examples of people who have all passed away. I think that the potential ethical problems would be when models are made of people who are alive and haven't given a consent. Can I watch a porn movie and choose someone I know as a "skin" for one of the characters? Can a political party make videos where a politician from another party appears? Is a small "This isn't really Barack Obama" disclaimer enough? It will be a pain in the ass to create laws for this stuff.

As for this being used to child porn... The idea appeals to me. While there is some debate about the subject, I believe that if pedophiles have more access to porn, that will cause them to have less desire to go and molest a child. The problem is that we can't make child porn without harming children... Except that this technique might change that.

I'd be happy with them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797928)

removing the tattoos from Megan Fox. It's a shame that that classic beauty had to get those tattoos and look like common white trailer trash.

Re:I'd be happy with them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798272)

Remove the boob job while they are at it, right?

Re:I'd be happy with them.... (1)

briareus (195464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798372)

Bah. I have no problems with her tattoos and I'm not into trailer trash. You don't need sophisticated motion capture to remove tattoos.

"How cool would that be?" (4, Insightful)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797934)

"How cool would that be?"

I don't know. Depends on how good the movie is.

Re:"How cool would that be?" (2, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798038)

Yeah, if it's one thing that George Lucas has proven, it's that good special effects don't make a good movie.

Just like amazing graphics don't make a good game.

Re:"How cool would that be?" (1)

TBoon (1381891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798150)

And how good the actor acting the actor is acting. Otherwise it would be like a tone-deaf Elvis-clone in a wheelchair...

To cesar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797936)

"tech that cameron perfected"??? Wow. In my eternal ignorance, I always thought that was a merit first from the programmers, followed by the modelers, both being "artists" to me.

uncanny valley (3, Interesting)

GeLeTo (527660) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797938)

Cameron sidestepped the uncanny valley ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org] ) by making the navi different enough from people. I have yet to see a believable CG human character.

Re: uncanny valley (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798348)

I have yet to see a believable CG scene period. Whether the actors were real or not. In fact, I guess it is worse when the actors are real and performing in front of a green screen and the CGI is composited in later. I've noticed that many people can sit through scenes like that just fine (including my wife), but for me they are just jarring. It's usually something with perspective or lighting sources or whatnot that just screams "something is wrong here" and blows the immersion I am trying to get in the movie. I can generally back up the movie and point out to my wife the things I am seeing and then she will "get it", but it really seems like only some people notice this stuff. (perhaps like only some people notice 60 hz flicker on CRT monitors).

Maybe it is something like being "hyper observant" or something. The other thing that always jars me out of a scene is the continuity. Something like a glass in the actor's hand that is 1/2 full and then a cut to another view and it is all of a sudden totally full. A different number and placement of flowers in a vase. A scene in a House episode where he pulls out a syringe, bleeds the air out and clearly has it less than half full then a cut to another camera and it is 3/4 full.

Both types of scenes - the CGI and the "continuity error" just seem to rudely pull or push me back out of that immersion in the film.

Like Simone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797950)

Interesting, pretty much the basic premise of the Pacino movie Simone (or S1m0me)

Bad Idea (2, Interesting)

hfsys (1373009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797972)

"...and that an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere."

Yeah. The line is, 'Don't do it'.

Hollywood has plenty of new, undiscovered, actors. This only allows for the studio executives to cash in on famous titles, by developing terrible sequels that should never be made. i.e. Terminator 3, or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.

..Or maybe this great power could be used for the forces of good. Ooh! I know! They could finally make Rocky X.

No Thanks (1)

Khith (608295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797976)

This is great! I mean, just look at how wonderfully they de-aged Patrick Stewart for his brief role in Wolverine. Oh, wait..

As cool as this is for creating aliens and other strange creatures, it does NOT work well. Even if it ends up looking better in the future, this is NOT something that I would be looking forward to.

Re:No Thanks (1)

Khith (608295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30797994)

Err, rather it does not work well for HUMANS. Hit submit too quickly.

How cool ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797984)

"How about another Dirty Harry movie where Clint looks the way he looked in 1975?" Cameron suggests. "Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Doctor No? How cool would that be?"'

Actually, not that cool. What makes those actors special isn't their face but their acting. Can you generate that as well?

Too bad they didnt have this for basic instict 2 (1)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798062)

Im sure sharon stone would have happily looked like she did in the first film and shes a better actress now than she was back then.

There is no ethical line left to draw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30797996)

If you get someone "playing" in a new movie where Clint looks like he was at his 35, there is really no ethical line left to draw. Could that movie win an Oscar? Who would really get the statue? The "motion-host actor"? Cameron? Someone who sits in front of a computer to produce the "magic"?

I am sure the studios would love to make all these movies, packed with cheaply played former movie stars - just like Disney ripped off and created copyright for the stories under the studio for all the great works of classic tales.

Re:There is no ethical line left to draw (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798132)

I assumed he meant that Clint would still play Dirty Harry, but they'd replace him with a digital version of his younger self.

In which case Clint would get the Oscar for the performance and you'd hope a technical Oscar would find its way to the company who did the digital version of him.

Oh my dream will come true! (3, Funny)

nanospook (521118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798002)

Bring back Ronald Reagan!

Mix The Best (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798006)

The obvious goal is the elimination of human actors which will assure higher profit margins for the film industries. Since legal issues will arise if a character is duplicated by computer art the trick will be to take the admired characteristics of several stars and combine them into a "new" image. Blending Bogart with Eastwood if done by an artist may well present a new film star to the public and create a complex situation in which the Bogart estate and the Eastwood interests both have little if any claim at all to the proceeds. Finding a way to combine voice characteristics might actually be more difficult than the visual elements of film. The monetary interests are large enough that this work will surely be done. Obviously some of it has already been done such as with John Candy completing a film after his death due to computer replications of his voice and person. The trick is to get the cost of the computer work down.

Ethical? (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798010)

What ethical line? It's all business, actors are very expensive and often behave like divas so removing the actors and replacing them with rendered models can increase the profit margins for the movie studios.

Using rendered models not only saves you the millions that big name actors typically demand, but you no longer need to hire filming locations, stage stunts etc... Actors face becoming obsolete sooner or later.
Movie production of the future will be done in third world countries, where hundreds of poorly paid workers beaver away in a callcenter like environment constructing and animating digital models.

Re:Ethical? (2, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798032)

Movie production of the future will be done in third world countries

Don't you think you're overreacting a bit? Sure, California has been hit hard by the recession, but it's not a third world country yet.

Re:Ethical? (3, Insightful)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798050)

What ethical line? It's all business, actors are very expensive and often behave like divas so removing the actors and replacing them with rendered models can increase the profit margins for the movie studios.

Using rendered models not only saves you the millions that big name actors typically demand, but you no longer need to hire filming locations, stage stunts etc... Actors face becoming obsolete sooner or later.
Movie production of the future will be done in third world countries, where hundreds of poorly paid workers beaver away in a callcenter like environment constructing and animating digital models.

The fact that it's profitable does not automatically sidestep any ethical considerations. Case in point: It would be very profitable to chain your workers to the factory floor and have them work 18 hours a day for no money, and consumers would be able to buy the wares much cheaper, yet it would not be ethical.

In this case, one can question whether the studios have the (moral and legal) right to the actors' image beyond what they've filmed.

Yes (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798142)

If those factory workers were just a drawing in a computer, sure.

Re:Ethical? (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798298)

It would be very profitable to chain your workers to the factory floor and have them work 18 hours a day for no money

Yes, but that's illegal. Any company doing this (in the first world, obviously) be forcibly closed down. I don't think ethics figure into the decisions to not doing this.

Re:Ethical? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798456)

Actors are pretty much made by the movie companies, in future you will see the movie companies creating virtual actors (ie artificially created characters) that get reused in multiple movies...

This already happens, but only with cartoon characters because the level of realism hasn't been there.

Re:Ethical? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798338)

Most actors are cheaper than the >$300 million it took to poop out avatar.

Re:Ethical? (1)

briareus (195464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798452)

"but you no longer need to hire filming locations, stage stunts"

You clearly don't understand what motion capture is.

Reminds me of Max Headroom: (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798024)

"My Word. You could have all your politicians in little boxes - very handy."

Re:Reminds me of Max Headroom: (0, Offtopic)

cvtan (752695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798052)

Still waiting for the good quality DVDs of the Max Headroom series...

Terminator Salvation (4, Interesting)

D J Horn (1561451) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798064)

*SPOILER*

As mediocre as the movie was, I couldn't help but smile when Arnold shows up as a fresh T-800, looking like he just stepped off the set of the original film. Granted while there are only brief shots of his face - the rest of the scenes using typical hide-a-stunt-double camera angles - it was still a really cool scene in my opinion.

But as far as doing something more elaborate like a new Bond film starring a 'young' Sean Connery? I don't think the tech is there yet. The uncanny valley is really hard to get out of. Sure a still shot can be rendered to look flawless, but as soon as they start talking it just feels terribly uncomfortable.

Re:Terminator Salvation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798214)

It looked fake to me - like when he pulled the tracker out of his nose in Total Recall.

Using existing actors is only the first step (1, Insightful)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798076)

I cannot wait till actors are 100% artificial. Finally we can get rid of most of those grossly overpaid attention whores. This might be the only case where I am glad when the computer destroys a job.

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798088)

But then who is Conan going to interview?

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (2, Funny)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798136)

But then who is Conan going to interview?

CGI Conan or real Conan?

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798234)

But then who is Conan going to interview?

He'll interview himself, of course. Possibly a whole debating panel of Conans in CGI.
TV celebrities are as bad as any other at being narcissistic attention whores.

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798152)

If they've got to a place where actors can be completely replaced, I think it's safe to assume that by that time every single other profession will have been replaced as well. What is it that you do, exactly?

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798202)

If they've got to a place where actors can be completely replaced, I think it's safe to assume that by that time every single other profession will have been replaced as well.

I doubt it. Perfect computer graphics won't remove a bad appendix.

What is it that you do, exactly?

I am software developer. :-)

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798306)

Not to mention porn.

Black Market Anna Farisbot in Cybersluts 15? Yes please!

Re:Using existing actors is only the first step (1)

briareus (195464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798468)

Not gonna happen. To truly get rid of grossly overpaid celebrities (whether they're actors, athletes, whatever) you'd have to get rid of the grossly overpaying audiences. Not everyone's a slashdot geek eager to watch artificial actors.

Schwarzenegger inTerminator Salvation (5, Insightful)

Kenz0r (900338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798100)

Hasn't tech like this already been used to put a younger looking Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Salvation?

Video clip (may spoil the movie): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY57vJOQIlE [youtube.com]

Re:Schwarzenegger inTerminator Salvation (5, Informative)

glrotate (300695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798324)

Video clip (may spoil the movie)

Don't worry. The plot, screenplay, direction and acting take care of that nicely.

Re:Schwarzenegger inTerminator Salvation (2, Interesting)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798454)

Don't forget Judge Dread. I'm probably wrong but that may be the first. They couldn't get the CGI bike to align with Silvester Stallone's body so instead they made a 3D Stallone and put that on the CGI bike.

The end of prosthetic foreheads (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798106)

I think the biggest advance would be to eliminate the prosthetic forehead that has been the distinguishing mark of TV aliens since the original Star Trek.

We don't need no stinkin actors (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798108)

A few years from now all movies will be cartoons. Next will politicians, they're already puppets anyway.

Re:We don't need no stinkin actors (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798192)

A few years from now all movies will be cartoons.

Show me a high-grossing animated drama film about one of the major wars of the twentieth century, and I'll agree with you that cartoons aren't just for kids [tvtropes.org] anymore.

All bow to the Great Cameron (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798118)

Who single handedly invented, revolutionized and perfected 3D animation. This is the message I'm getting, what did he really do? He told some engineers he wanted a motion capture camera smacked on the forehead of the actors to capture their facial expressions better, he co-developed some camera system for 7 years (I doubt he did any coding).
For crying out loud, he's a 'director' with lots of cash and a name with huge momentum. I don't flame him for making CG flicks, but taking glory for the whole franchise like some demigod, please, don't start calling motion-capture 'Avatar-technology'.

I'd go the opposite. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798120)

I like classic actors and classic films as much as anyone, but, if the United States is to continue, we need to have the arts be alive and stories be retold through new actors, directors and minds. Like, I'm glad Trek got a new crew, but I think we could go even beyond that. We need to break out of racial typecasting. Like, why can't a black or asian guy play the lead in MacBeth? Are greedy kings somehow relevant only to white people? Or why couldn't a white guy play a role as a slave? Acting is -acting-. Screw computers bringing back dead people. Let's use computers to make it possible for anyone to be Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, let every high school play have great special effects. Let's mix high art and low, TV and theater, toss it all into the pot, mix things up, and do something new.

Sparticus? (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798172)

You seem to be under the impression that the world in general wants the US to continue. Interesting.

Re:Sparticus? (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798190)

You seem to be under the impression that the world in general wants the US to continue. Interesting.

You seem to be impression that I care about what the rest of the world thinks. If you ask me, I would:

a) Stop all imports from mercantile countries to the USA

b) Withdraw the USA from NATO, and maybe even the UN as well.

The world can do what it wants, so long as the USA is not a part of it.

Re:I'd go the opposite. (2, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798218)

*Shrug* You can have whoever you want in any act role. Depends if you're going for historical accuracy, or put anyone into the role.
By the same token, you could redo the stories of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and have them cast as a white skinhead with swastikas on his arm. I'm guessing that it'll detract from the canon of the story.
Hey, much better idea. Why bother with rehashing the old stories, which have a vast amount of accepted roles behind them, and create NEW stories, where the hero is a particular person from a particular background? That's what art is supposed to be, creating new. There are a goodly many 'updates' to the Shakespearean plays, with all kinds of people playing the roles. And that works nicely..
Personally, I've seen Shakespearean plays with black leads, and they were good.. Have you watched any movies at all? There are a goodly many that spring to mind with white slaves (contemporary Human Trafficking stories, or older ones circa Roman Empire, and there were plenty).. Greedy white kings? Watch the news! There are still stories on that in real life, not to mention god alone knows how many movies.. No idea where you're getting this concept that all this can't happen in stories, movies and shows when it already does.. To be honest, I think people just need to get over this absolute obsession with race, and wondering why people of a colour skin can't do something (when they blatantly do), and just get on with putting the good people in the right places.
That little rant aside, the mixing of various artforms is absolutely alive and vibrant out there.. Not for everyone, but it's good to see people experimenting with it.. Long may it continue!

Re:I'd go the opposite. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798360)

By the same token, you could redo the stories of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and have them cast as a white skinhead with swastikas on his arm. I'm guessing that it'll detract from the canon of the story.

In the case of Malcom X, would it?

Re:I'd go the opposite. (2, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798434)

Like, why can't a black or asian guy play the lead in MacBeth?

It's been done. It's been done more than once, and not just as "modern" reinterpretations. For example, there was a 1937 U.S. theater production of Macbeth in which the whole cast was black, and the setting was Haiti rather than Scotland. Orson Welles did the adaptation which employs bullwhips and muskets as well as swordplay, but kept the spoken words unchanged from Shakespeare's version. It was apparently quite successful, and toured widely. There's a video excerpt of one performance at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PiZYGfRDgo [youtube.com] and the Orson Welles script is available at http://dspace.wrlc.org/doc/bitstream/2041/60695/Macbethdisplay.pdf [wrlc.org] Note that the PDF is a scanned version of the typewritten original, and hence rather large.

Rebirth of Firefly! (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798134)

Now they can finally resurrect Firefly with CGI reproductions of the original cast! It could work as long as the industry does not get too greedy and hire Gilbert Gottfried for Mal and Miley Cyrus for Inara.

why? (2, Insightful)

xcut (1533357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798170)

Why would anybody be interested in seeing Sean Connery act in James Bond the same way he did back then? Why would you not just watch the old movie? Does anybody really give a damn if the explosions look slightly more up to date? If you want to use fancy toys, use them to innovate, and find the icons of the next generation.

twentysomething teens (1)

sophomoric (1715780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798178)

I hope they use this to make all those twentysomething actors actually look like the teenagers they are supposed to be portraying. 17 year olds are supposed to look awkward, not like Kristin Kreuk!

Good actors (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798198)

So now they can replace all the pretty people with people that can actually act without affecting the "look" of the movie?

Copyright (1)

ramjambam (1416617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798208)

How much would actors get paid for the use of their 'trade-marked' names? When does a name become common property? I'm imagining a slew of Marlene Dietrich films, because nobody bothered to keep the copyright going...

James Cameron perfected... what? (2, Insightful)

Rui del-Negro (531098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798226)

the photorealistic CGI technology James Cameron perfected [...]

James Cameron is a mediocre film director and a terrible writer, but I'm willing to bet he's even worse at coding, 3D modelling or animation.

James Cameron did not "perfect" anything. He paid some people to put something together so he could make more money from it. Most of the technology used to streamline the CGI production in Avatar was in fact developed for other films (ex., "Benjamin Button").

And, in any case, the "new" part about Avatar is the (nearly automatic) "performance capture", not the "photorealistic" rendering, which has been around for ages (how realistic you want it depends on how much time or render nodes you can afford to throw at it).

Re:James Cameron perfected... what? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798368)

Who gets remembered is not who uses pieces of a technology, but who puts the pieces together into a gestalt. We can look to Apple for that. Before the iPod and iPhone, the pieces were around, touchscreen UI, multitouch, app stores, and smartphones. However, who got the mindshare to Joe Sixpack wasn't RIM, it was Apple who spun existing technologies together to make something cool.

Cameron is the same way. The CG aliens are not new, but the way they were done as a main part of the film is, making sure the uncanny vally is bypassed by having different facial features (ears way high on the head, larger irises, flattened nose, the facial shading). 3D is not new either, but Avatar is the first widespread movie that used 3D technology without having to force theaters to upgrade their projection equipment.

These days, it is not who invents something that gets the cash (else Xerox would be in the Fortune 10 with their PARC inventions.) It is who manages to package existing stuff and sell it who takes home the prize.

Re:James Cameron perfected... what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798376)

Wow, jealous much? Like him or not, but given how successful he is, Cameron must be doing SOMETHING right.

Put another way: if he can't direct, can't write, can't code, can't model and can't animate, and if the only thing he did is to get certain people (Fox) give money to other people so that those other people would then do all the things necessary to make a movie... why aren't you doing the same thing? Obviously, if it takes no effort, no skill and no talents, then every random Joe should be able to do it.

Go on, try it. I'm waiting.

I have a bad feeling about this... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798242)

I understand that many contracts and agreements state that the movie studios own the likeness of whoever or whatever, blah blah blah but this could mean an even further shift away from [expensive] actors from entertainment.

The music industry's quality of output has been noticeably poor over the past few decades. The primary reason for this is not lack of talent, but lack of talent that can be controlled by the industry. Superstars are harder to control, after all. Movies and TV shows have always suffered from actors who demand a larger [more fair?] cut of the pie often leading to projects that never get completed or cancelled.

But with this tech, a sequel can be made without the original actor's participation. Worse, actors may not be in control of their careers if some executive producer wants to include near pornographic portrayal of, say Summer Glau, where she otherwise refuses to do such scenes.

There is heavy potential for abuse here. And where there is potential, you can be assured that it will happen.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this... (1)

briareus (195464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798474)

"The music industry's quality of output has been noticeably poor over the past few decades."

Way to confuse opinion with fact. Yeesh. Every generation makes that statement, grampa.

That doesn't strike me as a particularly good idea (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798270)

Part of what makes life interesting is that things and people change ?

Sean Connery was my favorite James bond, but what makes him so is that the ones after him were not as good, and that he stopped doing it ?

I already find today's entertainers way to artificial, what with all the nip tucks, the postprocessing, and the training... the last thing I'd like would be for them to be REALLy artificial.

Here comes the bootleg porn (4, Interesting)

IronDragon (74186) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798290)

Something tells me that being able to take virtually any actor and use them virtually in a film is going to open up two rather annoying types of movies:

Porn movies with well known actors

Chinese alternative history movies where well known US actors find themselves on the losing side of World War 2.

You've got to ask yourself one question ... (1)

maestroX (1061960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798294)

... do I feel lucky?
just isn't that impressive when Clint carries a baby-face.

Doing to movies what Microsoft did to Programming. (3, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798304)

Could this be the start of the "Quick button click movie maker"? Something akin to a rather more advanced version of the game "The Movies", where you can set a scene from a variety of landscapes (similar to Vue D'Esprit, or some other landscape renderer), add actors (taken from stock modifiable ones, as per Poser, or similar), add in movements and pathing.. Voices taken from a modifiable bank.. Add in stock effects and so on.. And have the bulk of it in a nice GUI development tool..
I get the suspicion that it'll draw a lot of derision from the real movie makers, but as something that'll be the Visual Basic of the movie world.. Hmm.. This could dispense with a lot of the actors in low prices movies, and if it grows, even in big budget ones.. Though the quality will likely still be missing that 'human touch'.. Still in mass market, like with VB, mostly the only people who'll care will be the ones that really understand the skill and craftmanship behind it.. Your average guy on the street wouldn't care two hoots..

Paul Newman leads attack on the acting clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798342)

From 2006: Newman leads attack on the acting clones [guardian.co.uk]
 
An Excerpt:

Paul Newman has lent his support to an image protection bill that prohibits the use of a person's image or voice for up to 70 years after their death. The veteran actor warned that recent advances in digital technology meant that his work could be re-edited, enabling his image to appear in "a whole movie" without his consent. "They could make a whole movie that looked like me, talked like me, acted like me, sounded like me, but wasn't me," Newman, 81, told the Connecticut state assembly last Friday. However, the bill is opposed by the Motion Picture Association of America, which fears that it could infringe on film-makers' rights of expression and their ability to use old footage in their movies.

I also remember reading that when Newman died his will contained a clause that specifically prohibited him ever being digitally "re-animated."

Perfected (3, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30798436)

But the photorealistic CGI technology James Cameron perfected...

Whoa. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. It was damn impressive, but it most certainly wasn't perfect. It was always clear that what I was looking at was CG. It is not yet at a point where the computer is going to fool the viewer into thinking that what they are seeing is real. It's come a hell of a long way but we're not yet at "perfected." Not by a long shot.

MARE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798480)

numbers. The loss every chance I got Fear the 8eaper were compounded may be hurtinVg the non-fucking-existant.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30798482)

How about this angle, you can bring people back to life that nobody living has ever seen. How about using what we know about historic figures from paintings or skeletal remains to bring them back in CGI? George Washington anyone? You could have characters that look EXACTLY like the real people in those roles. Then the question becomes which is more entertaining, to show people exactly as they were or a hollywood spin on it. I guess you would always have some spin since while they may look identical, the actor would still do their spin on the personallity and manerisms of that person.

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