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Digital Replicas May Change Games and Film

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the all-editor-version-of-star-trek dept.

141

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Steve Perlman is touting technology that he says can create animated digital reproductions of the human body that are as accurate as photographs, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'Game makers could use the system, called Contour, to create very realistic animated characters in videogames with fully controllable movements and facial expressions. Film makers could use the technology as a kind of digital makeup, changing an actor's looks or words or switch camera angles without costly retakes. The technology can even substitute one actor's face for another's and create exact replicas of long-dead historical figures.'"

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gnaa (-1, Troll)

Demosthenes X (992239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815783)

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Re:gnaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815810)

rofl pwnt by /. gg loser lolz

The golden age (-1, Offtopic)

m1chael (636773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815793)

of big brother is upon us! BB! BB! BB!

hooray (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815804)

finally: something to make humans totally unnecessary in all film clips! what's that, mr. president? you're addressing 50 audiences at once on live television, saying contradictory things to each? what a talented orator!!!

Re:hooray (1)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815820)

Yes, but how would you target each individual audience? Have them all tagged? Oh, wait

Re:hooray (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815912)

Stalin meets Mein Fuhrer... and remakes of historical films. Resurrections of dead actors. New chaplin movies.

Now add to that virtual enriched realities.

Could be real fun. I have a vision of young fellows marching to Verdun with gaming sports equipment in their hands.

Or watch Jesus live.

Re:hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815960)

I don't think there's enough RAM to cast an older Marlon Brando.

Re:hooray (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816073)

Just to pick nits, but assuming you mean Jesus of Nazareth, at best you'd be watching somebody portraying Jesus, as no statues or painting were made of him while he was alive.

Re:hooray (1)

Baorc (794142) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817065)

How about the shroud of Turin? Assuming of course that it is the real one, and Catholics/whoever else worships Jesus don't get too pissed off about it.

Movie to game adaptions (1, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815807)

Realistic animations are already possible, has been for ages, it's called motion capture.
I only see the use of this technology for movie to game adaptions were they can quickly copy a real life actor to 3D. For the rest, why would you want to hire multiple actors to do the same thing what a couple of voice actors, motion capture actors and animators can do.
Besides, how would you use this technology in a non-realistic game.

Rtfa (4, Informative)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815834)

And this is a form of motion capture. And if you believe the slashvertisment, a quicker, cheaper one, with better results. So that would be why.

And to deal with your second question, textures will still be added after capturing structure and movement information, so you could make people blue, tweak the models or whatever after the fact still. (Like in the example, the teeth, skin, hair etc are all being slotted back in from photo's)

Did you go near the article? Yes yes, I know, I must be new here...

Re:Movie to game adaptions (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815874)

It'll all depend on the software, if it's cheaper to use this technology than it will be used. Look at the Source engine, the mouths move with the sounds instead of just using animations, that way it's much easier to dub things. So if they combind the two technologies they can cut out animators all together and save a whole heap on a years worth of wages, plu sit'll dub into other languages extremely easy.

Re:Movie to game adaptions (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815910)

Read the article. It's apparently cheaper than motion capture. Traditionnal motion capturing of facial animation is nowhere near where what he claims his system is. I've asked a buddy from work who's at Siggraph this week to go and check it out. It seems really promising. This might be something nice to include in animation packages like Autodesk's (formely from Alias, originally from Kaydara) Motion Builder (originally Filmbox :p).

Re:Movie to game adaptions (3, Informative)

Turing Machine (144300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815957)

Yeah, it sounds sort of like chroma keying turned on its head. Rather than shooting the actor against a background that's easy to remove, you just paint the parts that you do want to show up with the fluorescent paint. I'd guess that this would make shooting in an ad hoc environment much easier. No need to set up a soundstage with a green screen, just set up the special lighting rig wherever you want.

Definitely a clever and newsworthy idea.

It fills some important gaps... (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816045)

Steve's company already does motion capture (MOVA) this gets closer to getting faces right - as good as the body mocap was in Polar, convincingly accurate expression on the faces were sorely missing - this gets you closer to capturing faces and getting a more complete model accurate to motion. If you watch the most recent Robota trailer, they even went to video on the female character to keep it as realistic as possible for the trailer. It can be seen as an attempt at a leap across the uncanny valley.

I can see a lot of practical uses (3, Funny)

ben there... (946946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816084)

Here's just a few ideas:
  • Jessica Alba steals cars and punches hookers
  • Jessica Alba bunny hops and spawn camps
  • Jessica Alba breaks bricks with her head and goombas turtles
  • Jessica Alba does the perfect varial flip kick grind
  • Jessica Alba joins a guild and raids gold farmers

Re:I can see a lot of practical uses (1)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817200)

Here's just a few ideas:
Jessica Alba steals cars and punches hookers
Jessica Alba bunny hops and spawn camps
Jessica Alba breaks bricks with her head and goombas turtles
Jessica Alba does the perfect varial flip kick grind
Jessica Alba joins a guild and raids gold farmers
I can think of many other ways to use Jessica Alba but this is a family board.

Re:I can see a lot of practical uses (2, Funny)

Drachemorder (549870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817518)

"I can think of many other ways to use Jessica Alba but this is a family board."

You must be new here.

Re:Movie to game adaptions (3, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817530)

"Realistic animations are already possible, has been for ages, it's called motion capture."

Motion capture doesn't work for the face. You could be thinking about performance capture, which does capture the face, but there's debate about how effective that really is. In any event, no, it has NOT been here for ages. If one actor really can drive the actions of another, this is a Big Deal TM. You would not believe the amount of work that is done to deal with facial movements on a character. Check out the extras DVDs on King Kong or I, Robot if you're really curious about it.

"I only see the use of this technology for movie to game adaptions were they can quickly copy a real life actor to 3D. For the rest, why would you want to hire multiple actors to do the same thing what a couple of voice actors, motion capture actors and animators can do."

Funny, the article had a couple of interesting ideas in that department. The character aging in reverse gag, for example, is a rather interesting one. As for the latter half of your question, the answer is time. The end result is a moving character. It's time consuming to hand-key animation, not to mention the potential for lack of subtlety. If you can just throw one talented actor into a scanner and get the performance you need with minimal clean-up, you're in a better place.

"Besides, how would you use this technology in a non-realistic game."

Have you played San Andreas?

I realize a lot of people in this thread don't see the point. Just remember that the human body is the hardest thing to get right when it comes to CG. Remember all those complaints in the Star Wars prequels and the Matrix Trilogy about the digital doubles not looking right? Contour may or may not drag us from that rut, I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that it's still a problem today and it's a Good Thing if they can find a solution that allows the talents of actors to drive the performance of a CG character. The possibilities are a lot broader than a lot of you can imagine. Go read an issue or two of Cinefex. You'll be surprised at what technologies are already making a huge difference in modern movies, even though you probably never have noticed.

Rick Deckard (0, Offtopic)

PrayingWolf (818869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815811)

Is this like in "Blade Runner III"?
I'm sure the UN is concealing something here... lets all take Voight-Kampff tests right now!

Re:Rick Deckard (0, Offtopic)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816060)

Leon: Care if I talk? I'm kind of nervous when I take tests.
Holden: Uh, just please don't move.
Leon: Oh, sorry. [pause] I already had an IQ test this year, I don't think I've ever had one of these...
Holden: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
Leon: Sure.
Holden: One-one-eight-seven at Hunterwasser.
Leon: That's the hotel.
Holden: What?
Leon: Where I live.
Holden: Nice place?
Leon: Yeah, sure I guess... that part of the test?
Holden: No, just warming you up, that's all.
Leon: Oh. It's not fancy or anything.
Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of the sudden...
Leon: Is this the test now?
Holden: Yes. You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down...
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: It doesn't make any difference what desert, it's completely hypothetical.
Leon: But how come I'd be there?
Holden: Maybe you're fed up, maybe you want to be by yourself, who knows? You look down and you see a tortoise, Leon, it's crawling toward you...
Leon: Tortoise? What's that?
Holden: Know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course.
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I've never seen a turtle. [pause] But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back Leon.
Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden, or do they write them down for you?
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.
Leon: What do you mean I'm not helping?
Holden: I mean, you're not helping. Why is that Leon? [pause] They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. [pause] Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the good things that come in to your mind about: your mother.
Leon: My mother?
Holden: Yeah.
Leon: Let me tell you about my mother. [shot fired]

Re:Rick Deckard (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817122)

Actually, Harrison Ford would make better use of it on "Indiana Jones IV." It could spare us the pain of seeing a 67-year-old man still trying to do stunts and fight scenes.

-Eric

Virtual Stars? (4, Interesting)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815812)

Given that TV studios already like reality TV in large part because the cast is cheap, will we start seeing 100% virtual actors? From a business standpoint, intellectual property beats a human face that ages, gets into tabloids ( and potentially ruining the carefully marketed image ) is costly and needs to be recycled regularly.

Re:Virtual Stars? (5, Insightful)

paul248 (536459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815826)

We've had those for years. They're called cartoon characters.

Re:Virtual Stars? (4, Insightful)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815857)

Most cartoon characters aren't 100% virtual. There's still a voice actor behind them. And those can be just as demanding as ordinary actors. See the whole "we want a raise"-situation of the Simpsons voice actors recently.

Re:Virtual Stars? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817429)

I fail to see how this development -- which when you get right down to it, is really just a very-much-improved animation technology -- would change that situation.

Voice actors would still be required, unless your advertising campaign is going to be all done with silent films.

Re:Virtual Stars? (4, Insightful)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815865)

However, the virtual actor doesn't fare so well signing autographs, making appearances, and quite a few other things that real poeple do. Plus it seems that having a "realistic" fantasy (in the sense that it is physically possible) with a particular actor motivates a alot of stardom. For many shows this is most of the popularity, even the fans don't care much for the story.

Plus we would loose all the nice scandals - but I'm not too sure if this would be an overall plus or minus.

I do believe this type of stuff will really help small production films. I'm not so certain how it would work out for major shows - it may be that even with 50% of the current popularity it would still be such a profit maker that they wouldn't care (just like the mentioned reality shows - they are just so cheap to produce it doesn't take much audience to make a lot of money). Though in the long run that just leaves open a great void for another form of entertainment to rule, at the least such lowered production and distribution costs would really reduce the studios influence (much as what the RIAA is currently thinking of with home studios and digital distribution).

Virtual stars sure, virtual indie films, no. (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817519)

I'm not sure I agree with your thoughts on it helping "small production films."

Actors are cheap; CG is expensive. The percieved 'cost' of actors is distorted by how much it costs to hire a super-star, but most low-budget films can't afford that anyway, so they're using no-name actors to begin with. I think the actors' salaries are a pretty small part of most small-budget films who aren't trying to hire someone with name recognition.

A machine would definitely be cheaper than hiring Harrison Ford, but to paraphrase Monty Burns, it's probably not going to be cheaper than hiring his 'Mexican, non-union replacement.'

In any major city there is probably a surplus of actors willing to work in film for a basic living wage (and quite possibly less than that). Particularly if you can script your film to use youngish actors, there's a fairly big talent pool of people willing to work for publicity; in some cases they can be quite good.

Re:Virtual Stars? (3, Interesting)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815885)

Ian McDonalds "River of Gods" has plenty about virtual actors - thing is though in order to make them feel more real to the viewers they also have their own backstories to generate interest. So they appear to have their own love lives etc going on outside the soaps they appear in. Arguably without the hype around "movie stars" there wouldn't be "movie stars" there'd just be actors. But actors don't sell tickets stars do. So in reality that bad-boy virtual actor is going to be getting thrown out of virtual clubs after a virtual fracas just to give the media something to report on.

Been done, japense virtual idol (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816607)

The first was Kyoke Date and others have followed. They are of course not completly virtual as they still need a real human to supply the voice but it is getting there.

She was apparently a moderate success, a typical idol. Not all idols are shortlived but she was and with so many real girls wanting to be idols who wants to create a virtual one? They are so hard to audition on the couch if you know what I mean.

But yeah, you can see the appeal of a virtual Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Just crank them movies out without having to deal with a grandpa actor.

UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815825)

This may revolutionize the porn industry. Imagine taking all the best porn actresses in their primes and putting them all in one movie. Check that, 1,000 different movies. Now it's possible. On a serious note, the less actual sex involved in making the porn, the less risk to the actors.

Leaving the p0rn industry for a moment, anyone who ever sold a picture of themselves and waived all future rights and royalties is going to be in for a surprise, especially if the picture is them in a birthday suit. You may see congressional action to protect people from having their images used in such ways if they signed "all rights" contracts before the technology became available.

Someday, we will have the ability to create totally new "people" for movies, without relying on any existing images. That way the whole concept of royalties and rights is avoided altogether.

Re:UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815868)


You may see congressional action to protect people from having their images used in such ways if they signed "all rights" contracts before the technology became available.


What does congressional action and protecting people have to do with each other?

I don't know if you are serious or ironic (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815932)

Are you making political commentary or are you being serious? If commentary, then touche.

If you are serious, let me spell it out. A lot of people who signed away "all rights" for the use of photographs had no way of knowing what the future technology would bring. Their contracts probably were written by lawyers with the specific intent of allowing such future technology. You'll see people who naively signed such contracts sue in court and lose. They will turn to their Congressmen, who will pass a law basically allowing these people to go back into court for a second bite at the apple. Whether such a law will ever be passed or if it will hold up in court or not I don't know, but Congress will get involved and some Congressman will file a bill if enough citizens complain.

Re:I don't know if you are serious or ironic (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816019)

I suspect Peggy Lee would be the poster child for this.

She essentially signed away all rights for a bit in the Disney cartoon, "Lady and the Tramp," thinking that meant film rights. Then videotape came along... She sued, but I don't remember the outcome.

Re:UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816008)

> This may revolutionize the porn industry. Imagine taking all the best porn actresses in their
> primes and putting them all in one movie. Check that, 1,000 different movies. Now it's possible. On
> a serious note, the less actual sex involved in making the porn, the less risk to the actors.

Oh yeah, just think of the hundreds of broken necks and sore knees that can be avoided.

Another change to the porn industry would be that they could provide porn software, instead of a rendering using the software, allowing the end user to choose such things as the sex, race and..uh..age...of the participants...

Re:virtual pop icons (2, Interesting)

meburke (736645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816009)

"Someday, we will have the ability to create totally new "people" for movies, without relying on any existing images."

This has been done in Japan. The first one I remember is Kyoko http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9702/04/japan.date/kyoko.s m.movie.html [cnn.com]
but I've seen other, more realistic stuff since then.

How long before (virtual) snuff films are so real the "thought police" legislate against them?

Re:virtual pop icons (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816656)

Look up virtual kiddie porn and you'll have your answer.

Re:UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816012)

The movie S1m0ne [imdb.com] comes to mind.

"I am the perfect female type, age 18 to 25." (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816215)

The movie Looker came to my mind first. [imdb.com]

Sorry, Porn Stars are Still Cheaper (1)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816071)

Do you know how many "actors" you could hire for the $2000/minute cost associated with creating just one CGI character?

Re:Sorry, Porn Stars are Still Cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816258)

That was $2000/second, not $2000/minute. Now if you think about a 90 min movie involving about 3 actors on average in each scene, the porn stars would have to cost more than $32400000 (32 million dollars) before this new rendering solution becomes cheaper. That would probably translate to $5M to $10M for the main star(s) and $1M to $5M for the other actors.

Call me when starring in a porn movie can be paid more than 5 million dollars. I might reconsider my career plans...

Re:Sorry, Porn Stars are Still Cheaper (1)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817360)

Call me when starring in a porn movie can be paid more than 5 million dollars. I might reconsider my career plans...

Getting paid $5M is not very likely with more and more amateurs posting their own videos from camcorders and webcams for free/revenge.

Re:Sorry, Porn Stars are Still Cheaper (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816289)

That's $2000/second.

Re:UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (2, Interesting)

Sathias (884801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816103)

This may revolutionize the porn industry. Imagine taking all the best porn actresses in their primes and putting them all in one movie. Check that, 1,000 different movies. Now it's possible. On a serious note, the less actual sex involved in making the porn, the less risk to the actors.

If this technology is used for pr0n its only a matter of time until someone sells custom-made pornos of the buyer with the partner(s) of thier choice.

Re:UNLIMITED P0RN! and some serious comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816205)

Why copies of real porn stars? I imagine gay porn featuring a G.W.Bush-Osama-Saddam threesome to be way more profitable...

$2000 per second... (1)

deathcow (455995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815832)


Did I read that right? So if we want to get rid of the real Tom Cruise and only use a virtual Tom for, say, 30 minutes of a film, that will run us... $2000 * 60 sec * 30 mins = $3.6 million

Re:$2000 per second... (2, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815908)

Did I read that right? So if we want to get rid of the real Tom Cruise and only use a virtual Tom for, say, 30 minutes of a film, that will run us... $2000 * 60 sec * 30 mins = $3.6 million

Given that the top stars regualarly charge $20million for a movie, that actually is a bargain.

The challenge, though, would be to get your virtual actor to that star status (so much harder without the chat shows and celebrity magazine stories about who he might marry).

Re:$2000 per second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815983)

The challenge, though, would be to get your virtual actor to that star status (so much harder without the chat shows and celebrity magazine stories about who he might marry).

For the first one, that's easy. Having a convincing CGI star on your chat show is so gimmicky, the broadcasters would lap it up. Ditto with hype over fake weddings for the star characters. They'd do all the scandal as the characters get together, fall out etc leading up to sickly sweet true love. The rpess will love it. For the first time. Gets old fast but you get a star or two established. Plus it got old fast with real actors, but somehow some people still aren't bored out of their tiny minds by hearing about it.

Re:$2000 per second... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815936)

But that's $2000/second this year.

Next year it will be $1000/second. The year after, even less. In 5-10 years, it will be possible to do it on a $2000 desktop in near realtime.

You just have to look at how quickly morphing technology went from top blockbusters only (Terminator 2) to TV commercials, to something that can be done at home right now.

Re:$2000 per second... (2, Funny)

jcinnamond (463196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816213)

$3.6m to get rid of the real Tom Cruise sounds pretty reasonable to me. Shame it's only for 30 minutes though.

The tin-foil hatter in me is screaming (5, Interesting)

Alranor (472986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815838)

I bet Homeland Security will love this.

Suspect that someone is a terrorist, but have no evidence at all to support your allegations. - No problem, just whip up a photo-realistic animation of them attending a local bomb-making class. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Re:The tin-foil hatter in me is screaming (1)

gigne (990887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815847)

Like the scene at the end of running man where they map the image of Arnie strangling the bad guy.

Not so far fetched after all.

Re:The tin-foil hatter in me is screaming (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816126)

Well, the best defense from this kind of accusations would be making a pr0n movie involving the whole police department. If they can use this technology, you can do it too.

Re:The tin-foil hatter in me is screaming (1)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817459)

Doubt it. What's more likely is video evidence won't be allowed in court... wonder what that'll do.

Re:The tin-foil hatter in me is screaming (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817556)

"Suspect that someone is a terrorist, but have no evidence at all to support your allegations. - No problem, just whip up a photo-realistic animation of them attending a local bomb-making class. Lather, rinse, repeat."

Yeah yeah, we all saw Wag the Dog. So... do you remember how that movie ended? There'll always be somebody who wants to talk. Now you're involving a team of people who spend a great deal of time on the net.

Who needs photo-realistic Games? (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815846)

As seen in the case of film, improving technology of film camera and sound systems means nothing to quality of film (it doesn't improve films, it doesn't degrade films). After a few months/years of photo-realistic-games-shock-therapy we will all get back to unrealistic Mario worlds. I don't think that graphic performance is limiting factor (any more) for todays games quality

Re:Who needs photo-realistic Games? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817409)

Graphics don't necessarily make a game good, but you seem to be implying that good graphics are a bad thing. That's just as bad an attitude as the developers who think graphics make the game.

Graphics are a component. Better graphics make a game better, but it can't be at the expense of other game components.

Heck I'd LOVE if we could get photo-realistic World of Warcraft for example.

Gruesome Advertisements! (1)

xav_jones (612754) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815848)

The technology can even ... create exact replicas of long-dead historical figures.
OK but since you apparently need to scan in the body, don't be surprised when little Janey screams as Abraham Lincoln endorses some insurance company. :D

Re:Gruesome Advertisements! (1)

21st Century Peon (812997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816449)

Reminds me of my all-time favourite Weekly World News headline:
"ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S CORPSE REVIVED FOR NINETY SECONDS"

Create replicas of long-dead historical figures? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815853)

create exact replicas of long-dead historical figures

I don't think you want to witness this, judging by how the process is described in TFA:

First, an actor's face is coated in ordinary phosphorescent makeup like that worn by children at Halloween. The actors then conduct their performance in a studio surrounded by fluorescent lights and digital cameras.

Dig 'em up, cover 'em in phosphorescent makeup and dangle 'em in front of the camera?

AI (3, Interesting)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815892)

Game makers might achieve photorealistic representations of human appearance and motion, but our new (mostly welcome) digital overlords will still bump into walls, get stuck behind things, get in your way, not look at you while they're talking and generally make mistake and act like they're just computer representations. Game makers for the most part have all the graphical juice they need to convince us of a world's authenticity.

Though I really do enjoy advances in the level of graphical detail that increasing sophistication in hardware and software bring, I feel we need better AI, not fancier graphics . If a game's AI was as big a selling point (and therefore had the same amount of money invested in developing technologies and software for it's advancement) as the graphical prowress of the hardware then I think Alyx in Half Life 2 would probably have gone sentient at this stage.

"I'm sorry Gordon, but your apparent lack of regard for your own safety means I don't want to get involved with you, i'm just afraid of getting hurt."

Re:AI (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816091)

What I loved in Half-Life 2 was how people would clearly get annoyed if you threw stuff at them, but "killing" items would bounce or pass through them harmlessly, and the characters complete diregard to me hopping around like a loon while smashing crates.
And the reviewers complained that characters 'forced' you along!

Neat (1)

Rorian (88503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815924)

So when can I get this on my PC? I'd probably buy Quake 5 if the people looked completely real - Awesome way to do a tech demonstration..

Re:Neat (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815952)

And then cast your boss as monster. Of course, you'd still have to convince him to wear phosphorecent makeup first.

bad news for films (3, Interesting)

chucken (750893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815933)

I think in some aspects this is bad news for films. I'm completely turned off the idea of watching a movie if I think that they've messed about with an actor's face in order to improve on their expression or fix something. I think it's horrendous. I wonder how many actors will shortly have in their contract that film makers can't animate over their face without written consent? Speaking of which, I wonder how many actors currently have written into their contracts/estates that their image can't be raped after their death in cheesy car adverts etc?

Re:bad news for films (1)

chucken (750893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815971)

P.S. I do realise that they already mess about with actors faces by removing pimples, smoothing the skin etc. It just seems that actually editing their expression is a whole different ball park. It's not them acting any more, it's CGI.

They've been doing that for years (1)

DoubleRing (908390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816951)

Um, then you can't watch ANY movies, because they've been doing this for years. You know how easy it is to splice footage and make it look natural. They've had technology for decades to do anything from make an actor blink a few more times ina scene, to today's bullet time in the Matrix movies. It's just been easier until now to simply tell the actor to do whatever it is (you ARE paying them for a reason) Really, with a little bit of clever foley, you may not even need to touch the image--the human mind gets most emotional information through sound. Think, what would affect you more, seeing a silent film of someone getting shot, or hearing the guy actually screaming? Usually your brain will "fix" the image on screen to match your sound, and unless you've seen it enough (or the foley is done badly) you never notice it. Honestly though, did you think the CG departments of those large studio houses sat around and did nothing? Green/Blue screen is one of the oldest cinema technologies. Studios are constantly "messing" with an actor's face to improve it. With that mindset, are you against makeup in drama and theatre? It's called acting for a reason. It's not real--we trick ourselves into believing it is. (I'm oddly reminded of the Thermians in Galaxy Quest)

Would virtual Mel Gibson be an anti-semitic nut? (0, Flamebait)

beoswulf (940729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815940)

William Gibson's "Idoru" had me expecting virtual celebrities to come out of Japan first. On the other hand nobody more than Mel Gibson could probably use a virtual Mel Gibson right now. A virtual Mel that can only drink whatever comes out of the Internet tubes and not his pub's taps.

Hmmm (1)

KeithLDick (984953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815949)

Not in my life time...

Quote (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815953)

"Wohlschläger, team up with the digitalised Humphrey Bogart."

  - Last Action Hero

di3k (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15815966)

t;o work I'm doing, networking test. [theos.com] on his coming a piss polite to bring were compounded are looking very Are inherently My effo7rts were

Other uses... (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815986)

There are a couple of other uses that come to mind. How about a fake presidential declaration of war, a nulclear strike on the U.S., casting doubt on bad footage, demonizing an enemy, child porn, incriminating political opponents, or blackmail? Or even better, embedded reporters.

Ah, but the danger lies not in accusatory power... (5, Insightful)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15815999)

Now I see some are afraid of forged "photos".... Actually, the larger problem with this technology is not that you could possibly manufacture photographic evidence to damage someone else's ambitions, goals, or whatnot; it's that in creating that possibility, hard photo/video evidence loses its credibility in court, and will only continue to do so with time.

I guarantee that when this becomes mainstream (just as most CG geeks knew would happen years ago), that implicating a person of influence/wealth will become nearly impossible, as any time any damaging photo/video evidence pops up (oh, say, like photos of torture at the hands of the US government at Guantanamo or a worse and nameless fascimile) the powerful will declare that it's been manufactured by the opposing side.

Re:Ah, but the danger lies not in accusatory power (1)

Murodese (991864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816130)

Similar to email technology, which potentially had the evindencial-quality of a handwritten page of paper, which in turn was supposed to be a good form of evidence. Pretty soon law enforcement agencies will be relying on DNA/bioindentification alone, and we also know that that, too, can be planted with relative ease. But then, if it can be created it can be destroyed or modified.

Re:Ah, but the danger lies not in accusatory power (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816174)

Then these people should read the article. You need a special paint applied on your face and then be in a specially lit room in order to be recorded. There's is no concern to be had over this forgery "issue".

Re:Ah, but the danger lies not in accusatory power (1)

paganizer (566360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816541)

The Paint and special equipment in the article can be thought of as first generation equipment; there is little doubt the technical hurdles requiring the paint or bulky equipment will go away in time.
There is no reason a decent hi-res multi-angle view of someone could not do the same thing, given enough refinement to the software and processing horsepower.

Re:Ah, but the danger lies not in accusatory power (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816799)

Sure. But the reaction to this particular implementation of the technology is still overblown.

Awesome (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816016)

Chuck Norris vs Mr T, without the universe exploding.

Uncanny Valley, anyone? (1)

John Straffin (902430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816070)

Anyone else think that they have a pretty big hurdle to overcome before truly human-looking digital actors are anything but creepy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org]

"The Uncanny Valley is the region of negative emotional response for robots that seem 'almost human'. Movement amplifies the emotional response."

Long Dead Characters (2, Funny)

Kev_Stewart (737140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816127)

Quote 1
...and create exact replicas of long-dead historical figures...
Quote 2
Mova has run into problems with facial captures, even with its older motion-capture system, when actors have recently had Botox injections, which can immobilize sections of the face
those two quotes seem to be at odds with each other. Come on guys, can you bring dead people back to life or not? ;)

Gender Bender (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816132)

I just want to copy my fact on to a hot girl's body...

I'm skeptical (2, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816134)

Does anyone else here cringe when they see computer animation superimposed on film or passed off as a real action sequence? Graphics have definitely gotten a lot better over the years but I always laugh when someone describes the next gen of movie effects as lifelike or realistic.

Take Spiderman for example - I find those swinging sequences to look so horribly fake and robotic. The character model looks pasted-on because the light doesn't strike his body as it should and he isn't as softened by the camera as other objects, and the body motion appears jerky and forced.

So we'll see what the next gen has in store for us, but I have a feeling it will impress us only the first time we see it in a theatre. Jurassic park looked amazing that first time, but in subsequent viewings anyone can easily tell the difference between CGI and a model.

I love video games but I hate movies full of computer effects. Practical effects like those in Sam Raimi's movies are still the only way to go in my books!

Gollum! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816207)

How about the awful CG in the Lord of the Rings--Gollum in particular. I could have forgiven the terrible pacing. I could have forgiven the endless fake Frodokills (come on--we know he survives to the third movie so don't give us a poorly acted, terribly directed fake death scene every 45 minutes). I could have forgiven the bad casting. I could have forgiven the mood-killing dwarf/elf humor. I could have forgiven the terrible final battle. I could have forgiven the 9+ hours stolen from my life. But I simply could not forgive the endless shitty CG and terrible greenscreen shots. Gollum in particular looked like a fucking cartoon and rarely matched the tone of the surrounding shots.

Re:I'm skeptical (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816560)

Spiderman was a Sam Raimi flick ... how else would Bruce Campell have gotten a cameo?

But I do agree that I like his "practical effects" and overall style.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817001)

Spiderman was a Sam Raimi flick

I TOTALLY forgot that!! Sam, how could you??

how else would Bruce Campell have gotten a cameo?

And Bruce in an A film? Is it -30 in hell? I missed his cameo - who did he play? Bruce RULES!!

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

shinma (106792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817103)

In the first film he plays the announcer at the wrestling match. In the second he's the doorman at MJ's (hideous) stage version of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817391)

He's quite a Bruce of all trades, isn't he?

I'll watch the first movie again just for his cameo but I don't care to see any of the sequels, even for Ash.

The slashdot comment is misleading. (3, Informative)

master_p (608214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816165)

The /. comment is misleading. The technique to digitally capture the surface of a human body will not help make digital movies with no actors. You still need a real actor to do the job; the described technique only projects the original actor's image on the new actor. The age of the digital actor is not here yet, although this technique may be useful for ressurrecting dead actors.

In order to make fully digital actors, there are several problems to be solved:

1) animation that follows real life physics. Although digital animation has made great steps, the human motion can not be fully synthesized yet in a way that it totally fools the eye.

2) realistic voice synthesis. Computers still can not make realistic synthetic voice.

3) putting emotion into the above. In some day truly believable synthetic animation and voice will be achieved using only digital techniques. But what about the emotions? humans can do many emotions at the same time, all with subtle expressions, and using their face and voice in various subtle manners.

I would love to have truly believable synthespians. It would allow my favorite series to keep going on for ever. For example, there would be no problem doing a new Star Trek movie with Kirk and Spock (many fans have disagreed with the new movie due to the new actors that will be playing Kirk and Spock). But I just don't see it in the near future.

Re:The slashdot comment is misleading. (1)

john82 (68332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816276)

The /. comment is misleading. The technique to digitally capture the surface of a human body will not help make digital movies with no actors. You still need a real actor to do the job; the described technique only projects the original actor's image on the new actor. The age of the digital actor is not here yet, although this technique may be useful for ressurrecting dead actors.


Actually, I think the background article is misleading. Seems like Perlman & Co tried to explain what they were working on and the reporter extrapolated incorrectly. For instance, note that the reporter says you use a fluorescent light. But a fluorescent light won't pick up the phosphorescent paint (cetainly not with any efficiency). You'd need a blacklight to see the paint properly.

Yes, the reporter says this could be used with dead actors, but the technique described relies on using enhanced motion capture from the real actor. If the actor in question is dead, where are you getting the face from to paint and create the motion capture? The answer is that you can't. The best you can do is paste an image map of the dead actor on an armature created from this process. It would still seem to be suspect if the armature does not accurately conform to the contours of the dead actor's face.

Re:The slashdot comment is misleading. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15817352)

3) putting emotion into the above. In some day truly believable synthetic animation and voice will be achieved using only digital techniques. But what about the emotions? humans can do many emotions at the same time, all with subtle expressions, and using their face and voice in various subtle manners.

Considering the amount of botox in the average Holywood actor's face, I'd wager a computer simulation won't have much trouble with facial expressions... Or the lack thereof.

America is ready for this (0, Flamebait)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816225)

This will make hollywood movies even more idiotic but I'm sure box office sales will increase. The craft of acting (in hollywood) is at an all time low, but the audience doesn't seem to care.

As accurate as photographs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816396)

Steve Perlman is touting technology that he says can create animated digital reproductions of the human body that are as accurate as photographs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

If they are anything like the photos I take, does that mean that the animated digital reproductions are missing heads and have giant thumbs hovering in front of them?

This reminds me of the 1981 movie: Looker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816595)

Ever see the movie Looker? It seems thats where we're headed (minus the hypnotizing guns). Real, high-paid actors are no longer necessary. See how many TV commercials aren't even live-action anymore, most are CGI or animated anymore.

inconceivable! (2, Funny)

DanHibiki (961690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816752)

Why is it that each time someone claims to be capable of creating "photo realistic" or "lifelike" digital images only have a shity demo to show what might pass as "realistic" to the clinicly blind?

Celebrity culture (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15816843)

So this could mean the replacement of real actors with virtual ones? An eventual upside of this technology could be the death of the childish, self-indulgent celebrity culture which so many people inexplicably worship.

This can be used for evil/ (3, Funny)

hrrY (954980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816913)

Does the film, "The Running Man" ring a bell? And if so, do you remember how technology that was exactly like this, was used? Scary to say in the least...but I am cynic by nature so...

Games? Siggraph. (1)

ayeco (301053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816921)

Does this really go under "Games"? I guess it has an application in game production, but no more than in film.

This is the kind thing that I'm missisng at siggraph this year. :(

The basics was at SIGGRAPH back in the 90's (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15816946)

I can't recall the exact year though. :-( In one of the Siggraph presentation videos, there was a presentation about a system to take a 2-D photo and create a 3-D model (w/ skin texture from the photo) from it. They created an "average" face from hundreds of 3-D face scans and then used information from the photo to build up the 3-D model of the new face from the average face. I was wondering when it would show up in a practical application. TFA seems to indicate his team may have done this on their own though. But since they will be at SIGGRAPH, I'm sure the original team will pipe up. :-)

This looks shopped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15817413)

I can tell from some of the pixels, and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.
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