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[P]
The downside of ultra realistic CGI

By enterfornone in Technology
Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 09:46:45 AM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

Computer Generated Imagery has come a long way. The CGI used in Toy Story as little as five years ago is positively amateurish compared to the CGI used in films such as Final Fantasy today. Already CGI is being used for special effects in live action films in such a way that the casual observer has no way of knowing. In the next five years we may have full CGI films that are indistinguishable from live action.

However while this is good news for many, this technology has a downside that few have considered.


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The obvious implication of this technology is its effects on the acting profession. Will there be any need to pay an actor such as Julia Roberts $20 million per film when an indistinguishable computer generated duplicate can be created for a significantly lesser cost? Even if you don't care much for the welfare of the ultra-rich megastars, consider that CGI technology has the potential to make professional stuntpersons obsolete as well.

There is even the possibility of CGI artists resurrecting deceased actors. This would create the potential for, among other things, more Elvis Presley films.

Of course, as realistic as CGI becomes, we would not expect the media to mould their CGI creations on the average person. More than likely we would expect our CGI heroes to be in the Lara Croft vein, with unrealisticly perfect bodies and looks. With young people already struggling with the unrealistic body image promoted by the media the effects of this are obvious.

Closer to home, what is to stop a CGI artist creating a duplicate of you or me. An expert may be able to tell that the video of you and the sexy college intern is a fake and a judge might believe him. But will your wife? The potential for blackmail will be unbelievable.

The gaming industry is always at the forefront of computer graphics. Computer games are becoming more realistic and more violent. Soon you may be able to replace your character with your own image. You may be able to replace the images of your combatants with those of your teachers and classmates. While many would see this as harmless fun, but if the past is any indication, parents and governments will not see it this way.

The pornography industry will also be keen to take advantage of new CGI technology. In a rare show of technological foresight, computer generated child porn is already illegal in the US (as are such things as anime depicting underage girls in sexual situations). However the legality of such things as porn with computer generated celebrity lookalikes is not so clear. While celebrities are currently able to sue for copyright violations involved with "cut and paste" fake nude pictures, completely computer generated fakes are another story all together. There are also the possibilities of such things as computer generated rape and snuff films.

On the other hand, many would argue that there is no reason why "victimless" rape and child porn films should not be allowed. In fact, some argue that child porn can help to control the urges of those that might otherwise commit crimes against children and that as such child porn should only be banned if children are harmed in the production. However the availability of computer generated child porn would disturb many, and with many countries having less restrictive laws than the US it will be impossible to prevent the widespread distribution of such material.

Technology is moving at such a fast pace that we often fail to see their implications until they begin to occur. While ultra realistic CGI will be a huge plus for the entertainment industry, we need to look at it from all angles now and not wait until it is already upon us.

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The downside of ultra realistic CGI | 55 comments (55 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
thoughts (3.50 / 6) (#1)
by gregholmes on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:56:11 AM EST

Well, certainly new technology will displace and change old professions. That in and of itself is nothing new. Doubtless live acting will still survive (until we have holographic realtime cgi).

I'm not too worried about blackmail, unless I am among the first victims! Once it is a well known phenomenon, most intelligent people will tend to discount it. Of course it still raises the specter of what is sufficient evidence.

A lot to think about ...



Unaware of faked media? (2.25 / 4) (#4)
by Holloway on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 06:56:41 AM EST

Oh come on, "Tango and Cash" prepared us for this years ago.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]
hmmm Silent Movies (4.33 / 3) (#13)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:20:44 AM EST

K5 Entry Circa 1927:

Well, certainly new technology will displace and change old professions. That in and of itself is nothing new. Doubtless silent acting will still survive.

heheheheh


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
mimes (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by gregholmes on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:44:05 AM EST

;)



[ Parent ]
Won't replace actors (4.60 / 20) (#2)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 06:45:21 AM EST

Think about it. In order to make a film that anyone will want to watch, you've got to generate not just an image, but a performance. The reason that big stars are big stars is not that they have unfeasible bodies or perfectly symmetrical features, but that they are able to act; they have presence, which is about the way that they move, the way that they speak, the way they carry themselves, all sorts of incredibly subtle things that an audience picks up on subconsciously.

Think of, for example, Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. In order to get that same effect through CGI, you'd have to reproduce all the nuances of his body language, posture and movement. To put that kind of detail into a CGI would be incredibly difficult; many orders of magnitude more difficult than simply animating someone flying very fast across the screen while something explodes in the background to distract the audience. Furthermore, in order to create a CGI performance ex nihilo, rather than mapping an image onto Sir Anthony's movements, you would need someone who was not only as gifted an actor as Hopkins, but also a master puppeteer, expert with the software and possessed of superhuman patience. I can't see this person coming in all that cheap.

Basically, a performance has to be created. If you want a character to display controlled rage, or deep inner peace, or sexual chemistry, you can't just load up lib(mannerisms_sexual_chemistry). It's difficult enough for a director to summon a decent performance out of an actor that can communicate back to them, and who has an idea of the story.

The only real application I can see for CGI is in those kind of films that come out eveyr summer and which would be better off as having been made as cartoons in the first place. But you're never going to get the real blockbusters like "Titanic" out of a computer.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Didn't you think it was trollish? (3.00 / 6) (#5)
by elenchos on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:42:21 AM EST

The idea that CGI could replace acting is so silly that I don't think he really meant it; your reply states the obvious reasons why.

Add to that the unsupported conclusions like "Lara Croft has a perfect body" (sure, if you're a 13-year-old boy), or that unrealistic body images have an "obvious" harmful effect on young people.

Well, what difference does it make? I'm not really against trolling anyway; I only dislike bad trolls, and this article is not bad.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Not a troll in the ordinary sense (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by Ken Arromdee on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:31:01 AM EST

A troll is not "anyone who posts something idiotic". A troll is someone who deliberately posts something when they know better, because they like getting people mad.

The claim that Lara Croft has a "perfect body" and the "obvious" harmful effect of such images has been widely championed by the left. You might think that you'd never say such a thing yourself because it's so ridiculous, but there are huge numbers of people who do believe exactly that (and many of them have a lot of political influence too). Someone posting that probably posted it because he really believes it, not as a troll, and it is an attitude that must be noticed and responded to.

[ Parent ]

Right. `troll-ISH' I said. (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by elenchos on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:01:47 AM EST

I guess it was because enterfornone generally seems much smarter than you would think from the sort of off-handed kind of barbs and incendiaries he seemed to be tossing out in the article. But then maybe that makes for a good article, because it gets everyone going. And too, streetlawyer seems too smart to take bait like "GCI will make actors obsolete" or whatever it was. So I was basing my opinion largely on the record of the people involved, rather than just taking their words at face value. It becomes an endlessly convoluted psychological parlor game, which serious adults avoid playing.

I only take an interest in it because I am on daily call for jury duty, and so have a lot of time to kill, but can't start anything long-term.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

"Titanic"? (3.50 / 2) (#10)
by boris on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 09:56:41 AM EST

While I absolutely agree with your post, I found the mention of "Titanic" in the last sentence ironic - I was told that the mass scenes in it were made with just a few real persons, transformed into a crowd by CGI.

But we're not yet at a point when a computer-generated character can star in a movie, looking human on close-ups and acting convincingly. Even when the technology makes it feasible (not in the next few years, I venture predict :-), there will still be demand for real acting, just like there is a demand for paintings, acoustic music etc.

[ Parent ]
What about Toy Story ? (2.66 / 3) (#12)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:13:21 AM EST

They were able to create fake characters that were able to put emotion across the screen. Now the voice was a part of that..but try watching it on mute you still can feel what is going on...maybe in the future ugly actors will get a fair shot :)


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Toy Story doesn't count (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by Ken Arromdee on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:26:16 AM EST

For the same reason that A Bug's Life doesn't count. If a toy, bug, or other non-human character is shown with emotions, it can move a little stiffly or unconvincingly and that will still look okay because the character isn't supposed to be human. It's a lot harder to make convincing *human* emotions than it is to make what are essentially CGI cartoons.

[ Parent ]
Impossible! Never! It can't be done! (none / 0) (#23)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 01:12:15 PM EST

The difference between a human face and the face of Buzz Lightyear, which had something like 700 controls, is only a difference of degree, not of kind. Model the bone, model the muscles, model the skin, and give it a high level control interface, such as motion capture of an actor's face. This has been done, and it's good enough for simple cartoons and still improving. In ten years time you probably won't be able to tell it from a real face.

[ Parent ]
Depends on what you mean (none / 0) (#29)
by ubu on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 02:38:52 PM EST

Stephenson's The Diamond Age described the concept of motion capture from an actor's face to map CGI imagery. I don't see how this is significantly different from using a "real" actor. The end result will be filtered with CGI but the original input will be human-generated, always.

It will obviously change the acting profession but there's no reason to believe that this is somehow a gross distortion of human performance.

Ubu
--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
What about.... (none / 0) (#35)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:56:25 PM EST

Wait for FF, i have a feeling that the human characters will be able to portray emotions. ..perhaps not entirely convicingly but consider how far we have come since toy story.

It continues to boggle my mind that people continue to say "This will never ever happen...maybe in a million years" ..just look at the evidence.

Humans will never fly
Humans will never go to space
We will never survive the cold war
We will never need more than 512 byest
We will never need more than 512 kb
We will never need more than 512 MB
We will never need more than 512 GB
We will never stop watching silent movies
The heavens are a glass ball.
The sun obviously orbits the earth.
The earth is obviously the center of the solar system.
The earth is obviously the center of the galaxy.
The ozone layer is a con
The ozone layer will grow back
I'm not drunk, I can pilot this boat
I'm not drunk, I can fly this plane
I'm not drunk, I can drive this car



I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
The potential of CGI (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:38:57 AM EST

You shouldn't dismiss CGI so easily. Expressing subtle emotions from the outside is precisely what painters and sculptors have been doing for thousands of years. Doing this in motion would be difficult, but not more than, say, spending three years upside down painting a ceiling.

A CGI movie would be different from true acting, obviously. It would have to find its own mode of expression, possibly a combination of camera realism and cartoon simplicity, with a large emotional arsenal denied cameras and pens.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that there are nobody in Hollywood today capable of taking CGI beyond cartoon style humor and super-cool effects. It also goes without saying that most Hollywood actors could be replaced by basic CGI without anyone noticing.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

False Assumption (none / 0) (#39)
by eskimo on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 09:07:07 PM EST

You point is based on the assumption that joe the CGI guy is as talented as Picasso. Somebody has to appreciate the nuances AND be able to portray them. The vast majority of people in the world, and I mean really, really vast majority, are incapable of that little feat of multi-tasking. And to do it on the level that somebody like Picasso or Matisse or Shakespeare... I'd have to be struck by lightning while being eaten by a great white to appreciate the numbers.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Geniuses exist (none / 0) (#46)
by Beorn on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 04:02:15 AM EST

You point is based on the assumption that joe the CGI guy is as talented as Picasso. Somebody has to appreciate the nuances AND be able to portray them.

But I'm not talking about any joe the CGI guy, I'm talking about future Michelangelos, perfectionist geniuses who are driven to spend years of spare time making that one, great CGI movie. Just because we're drowning in mediocricity doesn't mean we should stop believing in greatness.

I am waiting patiently. Please inform me when it happens.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

I agree, but... (none / 0) (#51)
by eskimo on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 02:23:02 PM EST

I know geniuses exist. Thank God. But to think that there is a genius out there who is a genius at film making, art (painting and sculpture), acting, and maybe writing seems pretty implausible. While he's at it, maybe we should expect him to score the movie too.

What is the most nearly perfect movie you have ever seen? Could one man do that? All of it?

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Missed the point (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by loner on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:13:41 AM EST

You're thinking of CGI today. enterfornone is talking of CGI five years into the future. Five years from now, it is quite possible, and probable, that CGI libraries do exist to convey all kinds of emotions to the generated images.

Perhaps you won't be able to simply "load up lib(mannerisms_sexual_chemistry)" but you could connect physical sliders to input parameters for basic emotion functions (pout lips, swing hips, unfocus eyes, ...) and have a talented operator adjust the sliders continuously to convey the desired effect.

In a sense, the CGI of the future will put the "actors" behind the control buttons. Except the new actors will be a completely different set of artists who will be talented in manipulating the controls of basic CGI emotion functions in just the right way. So we'll see a different set of humans get paid mega-bucks for making movies, and today's actors will go back to live theater which will, hopefully, become more popular again.

[ Parent ]

cost vs. benefit (3.66 / 3) (#19)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:30:24 AM EST

but you could connect physical sliders to input parameters for basic emotion functions (pout lips, swing hips, unfocus eyes, ...) and have a talented operator adjust the sliders continuously to convey the desired effect.

But is it ever going to be cheaper to do this than to just hire some recording equipment and some actors? I don't see it, somehow; the cost of talent is determined by supply and demand, which is unlikely to change, while generating graphics is always going to be stuck in the price/performance race against simply taking images of physical objects. I really only see CGI as ever being useful for things that human beings can't physically do, which is to say, about five per cent of what makes a film interesting. E4N is right to say that this sort of thing is more of a threat to stunt doubles than actors.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Haven't you seen The Matrix? (none / 0) (#38)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:04:08 PM EST

I really only see CGI as ever being useful for things that human beings can't physically do
Or for things that the camera can't physically do. And that could mean all of a movie - even a touchy feely chick flick without any action at all.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
You are a machine, and a machine can emulate you (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 12:55:03 PM EST

If it were so difficult to get human-like emotions out of non-human objects, how can you explain the effectiveness of traditional animation and puppetry? A computer model is nothing but an elaborate puppet, and there is no reason why the nuances of human movement and facial expressions can't be captured into algorithms. There is a great deal of research going into that right now (in which I participated a few years ago), and I've seen things that, while nowhere near photorealistic, express so much lifelike humanity it even gives me the creeps.

There will still be a talented human behind these artificial actors, but they will be writing the dialog, animating the puppets and/or speaking the dialog, and designing the software that makes it all possible.

The only real change is that you may never see, or even hear, the actor performing a role. The superficial differences between actors won't matter so much, so perhaps we'll no longer see things like The Endearing Bimbo Julia Roberts or the Humble Everyman with Inner Strength Tom Hanks making millions playing the same characters over and over again. Acting will be commodified, and I think that's cool.

[ Parent ]
If it were so easy ..... (3.80 / 5) (#24)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 01:21:28 PM EST

If it were so difficult to get human-like emotions out of non-human objects, how can you explain the effectiveness of traditional animation and puppetry?

If it were so easy to get human-like emotions out of non-human objects, how come Julia Roberts is an international star, while the best puppeteer in the world is a geek act?

:)

And while we're on the subject, why is it that if Bob Dylan plays the guitar and harmonica at the same time, he's a genius, but if you add a pair of cymbals to his knees, suddenly he's a loser?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

You forgot (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 01:38:37 PM EST

about John Malkovich. :-)

[ Parent ]
Won't replace actors (1.62 / 16) (#3)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 06:45:21 AM EST

Think about it. In order to make a film that anyone will want to watch, you've got to generate not just an image, but a performance. The reason that big stars are big stars is not that they have unfeasible bodies or perfectly symmetrical features, but that they are able to act; they have presence, which is about the way that they move, the way that they speak, the way they carry themselves, all sorts of incredibly subtle things that an audience picks up on subconsciously.

Think of, for example, Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. In order to get that same effect through CGI, you'd have to reproduce all the nuances of his body language, posture and movement. To put that kind of detail into a CGI would be incredibly difficult; many orders of magnitude more difficult than simply animating someone flying very fast across the screen while something explodes in the background to distract the audience. Furthermore, in order to create a CGI performance ex nihilo, rather than mapping an image onto Sir Anthony's movements, you would need someone who was not only as gifted an actor as Hopkins, but also a master puppeteer, expert with the software and possessed of superhuman patience. I can't see this person coming in all that cheap.

Basically, a performance has to be created. If you want a character to display controlled rage, or deep inner peace, or sexual chemistry, you can't just load up lib(mannerisms_sexual_chemistry). It's difficult enough for a director to summon a decent performance out of an actor that can communicate back to them, and who has an idea of the story.

The only real application I can see for CGI is in those kind of films that come out eveyr summer and which would be better off as having been made as cartoons in the first place. But you're never going to get the real blockbusters like "Titanic" out of a computer.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Interesting Example (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 08:32:08 AM EST

You know, I agree with you that wholly CGI characters require, essentially, AI to drive them, but was Titanic a sarcastic choice? Does anybody have a figure for the percentage of that film that did, in fact, come out of a computer?

[ Parent ]
Ratings Abuse (none / 0) (#30)
by kagaku_ninja on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 02:52:09 PM EST

Why does this message have 3 zeroes, and 3 1 ratings?

[ Parent ]
because it's a duplicate (none / 0) (#34)
by enterfornone on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:41:15 PM EST

it was originally rated 0 and the second instance rated 5, but a few people missed that

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
redundant (none / 0) (#41)
by eMBee on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:10:12 PM EST

because it's been posted twice.
compare #2 and #3

greetings, eMBee.
--
Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
[ Parent ]

I think you're making a huge leap ... (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by Bad Mojo on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:54:15 AM EST

"Already CGI is being used for special effects in live action films in such a way that the casual observer has no way of knowing."

Just because YOU can't spot it, or it looks real to YOU, doesn't mean other people are still spotting it big time. Just look at The Patriot that recently came out. Gah! The entire thing was like watching a bad computer game cut scene. The CGI RUINED the visual aspects of the movie. Even when used very sparingly, it's easy to spot and often detracts from the movie instead of adding.

While I'm at it...

"Technology is moving at such a fast pace that we often fail to see their implications until they begin to occur. While ultra realistic CGI will be a huge plus for the entertainment industry, we need to look at it from all angles now and not wait until it is already upon us."

The ability to forsee the ramifications of technology is, at best, a shot in the dark. You're better off lobying congress to outlaw science so that no one accidentally creates a black hole and kills us all. The odds that you know what is going to happen and can calculate all the variables is so remote, that it's statistically not in your best intrest to even think about it. When CGI is good enough to totally replace actors, it might not matter at all. The entire outcome of this dinky little technological marvel is at the total whim of millions of decisions, people, and the general perception of the masses.

In my experience, nothing will change. We fear change.



-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

Actors are one thing but... (3.25 / 4) (#8)
by schporto on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 08:51:17 AM EST

What about when the CGI is being used to replace stuff. They do some of this in sports already (yellow lines for a first down, glowing pucks, ball speeds appearing behind a batter). Its easy enough, and start bluring the lines between reality and fiction. Take a recent example - Mario Lemiuex just returned to hockey in Pittsburgh, PA. Great thing for hockey everybody's excited. They play hockey there in a dome type building. One of the downtown buildings shined (shone?) a light on it saying "He's Back - 66" (or something like that). Well the announcers talked about it for a second then went on. They thought it had been a special effect their own crew was adding. The guys doing the broadcast didn't know it was real. Despite there being snow in the light beam shinning rather prettily. So if the people involved in the news (or sports) can't really distinguish between the reality and fiction how are we supposed to?
Consider some more disturbing possibilities -
The million man march suddenly has two million people
In the middle east a new round of fighting has begun
The streets of Philly are quiet tonight during the Republican convention - no idea where reports of mass riots are coming from
This is comeplete possible especially when you consider news videos usually are not of the highest quality.
-cpd

Paranoid Crap (2.83 / 6) (#9)
by theboz on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 09:47:12 AM EST

I'm sorry but this is paranoid crap...I am sure there were equal complaints from people that raised horses when the automobile came about. Seriously, people adapt, and for reasons stated in an excellent post by streetlawyer on this article, I doubt that they could replace people with CGI very easily. In the previews I have seen of the Final Fantasy movie, the people look realistic to a certain degree. We may be able to fake a snapshot, but we can't fake emotions (yet.)

I don't really think your rant can be considered as anything but paranoid garbage, or a troll. While I do think that there will be abuses of technology as there always has been, I don't think it will be something that could stop society as we know it which seems to be your impression.

Feel free to disagree with me.

Stuff.

Just a few things (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:09:04 AM EST

. In the previews I have seen of the Final Fantasy movie, the people look realistic to a certain degree. We may be able to fake a snapshot, but we can't fake emotions (yet.)

The aim of FF was not to generate /believable/ human figures. I imagine they could have made believable images easily..it will be interesting to see.

As far as emotions go I agree that is far more difficult, our brains are finely tuned to recognize subtlties in human faces so that may be a little tricky.....but just throw enough processing power at it and it should be in the next 2 years or so.

I saw that CGI newswoman on TV again and her emotions seem to be getting a little better.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
CGI newswoman? (none / 0) (#21)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:55:10 AM EST

What are you talking about? Link?

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Ananova (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Wormwood on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 02:08:23 PM EST

I beleive he was talking about Ananova. Virtual newscasts in real-time or something. I don't think it caught on.



[ Parent ]
yeah thats her (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:58:36 PM EST

No its not great, not useful, but it is possible with todays technology, what about tomorrows, the day after ...etc.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
There's an artificial distinction being made here (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 01:30:44 PM EST

between real performances and CGI performances. Use your imagination - there is a sliding scale between these extremes. All sorts of things in between that might make use of the subtle nuances of Hopkins's acting and the novelty and art of CGI that aren't strictly speaking just models animated by puppeteers. Unfortunately anyone who is working on this stuff and has anything interesting to contribute is likely to have to keep it secret for obvious reasons.

The potential for blackmail will be unbelievable.
Why is there potential for blackmail? You're going to have to elaborate on this. If I send an email 'confession' to the police, claiming to be by you and apparently signed by you is anyone going to believe it? So why, when CGI people are convincing, should anyone be convinced by a video of you committing a crime?

The gaming industry is always at the forefront of computer graphics.
Wrong. CGI in computer games is cheesy crap compared to anything in current movies. I say this unhesitatingly. Give me an instance of a single game out now that has technically better (animated) graphics than any movie with a budget larger than say $100,000,000. Even Jar Jar is better than games will be for at least the next few months.
There are also the possibilities of such things as computer generated...snuff films.
Would it be, technically speaking, still called a 'snuff' movie if it's CGI?

and not wait until it is already upon us
It's already here. I have personally worked on many shots that no film critic or member of the public has had any clue are CGI. Hell, I've even argued with ILM's president about a shot that he was convinced was live action but was rendered using software I helped to write...
SIGFPE
Snuff films (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by DJBongHit on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:44:56 PM EST

Would it be, technically speaking, still called a 'snuff' movie if it's CGI?
No, of course it wouldn't be. A snuff film is a film of somebody actually being killed, not an actor pretending to be killed. A CGI animation of somebody being killed would not be the same thing at all - it would be like a movie where a character dies.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Gaming Animation Quality (none / 0) (#40)
by CyberQuog on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:56:05 PM EST

Wrong. CGI in computer games is cheesy crap compared to anything in current movies. I say this unhesitatingly. Give me an instance of a single game out now that has technically better (animated) graphics than any movie with a budget larger than say $100,000,000.
How about most of the Blizzard cut-scenes. Specifically from Diablo 2 or even Starcraft. A lot of the final fantasy series for the console has some beutiful animations. Although, these are cut-scenes, which would be about the same as a movie. It is much harder to render really good CGI animation in real time. Especially when some frames from Toy Story II, took more than 7 hours to render, and thats on Pixar's server farm.


-...-
[ Parent ]
[OT] the Child Pornography Prevention Act (4.60 / 5) (#27)
by sera on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 01:49:19 PM EST

I have no strong opinion on CGI; I just wanted to post a note about the child-porn issue.

The link you have to computer-generated child-porn being illegal refers specifically to the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. What the CPPA does is make it illegal to create any image of a minor in a sexually explicit situation. As is obvious with the example of CGI child porn, such illegal images do not actually have to involve a real-life minor in their production: All that's necessary is that the final product depicts a child.

This has been a pretty controversial law, among those who follow such things. CPPA effectively prevented the commercial release of Adrian Lyne's Lolita, even though the actress playing Lolita, Dominique Swain, was an adult during the production of the film. I remember one case of a comics retailer being arrested for selling an X-rated comic book which depicted a naked succubus, with the prosecutor making the case that the succubus was taking the form of a 17-year-old human.

Even with George W. Bush in charge of Supreme Court appointments, there's a good chance CPPA won't be around for long. Traditionally, child porn enjoys no First Amendment protection, but that's because its production involves the use of children, who are assumed by the law to be incapable of giving informed consent to their own participation. CGI child porn and comic books don't use children at all, and have a much stronger case in court. Yes, there is the argument that the existence of child porn degrades all children in society, but that kind of stuff is still very difficult to prove either way.

firmament.to: Every text is an index.

Supreme Court (OT) (none / 0) (#52)
by SEAL on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 05:41:09 PM EST

Even with George W. Bush in charge of Supreme Court appointments...

Sorry to get waaaay OT here, but I get so sick of seeing this stuff. There are a couple important things to recognize here:

- The Supreme Court only deals with cases that make it that far in the first place, and even then, they don't take all of those. Granted, a highly controversial case is likely to be appealed until it gets to the high court, so this point is weak.

- The current Supreme Court justices may very well serve for 4, 8, ...? more years each. They are in good health, and appear to enjoy their jobs and work well together. Rehnquist is the oldest, but he is conservative in his views, so his departure doesn't win anything for Bush, other than perhaps a younger conservative justice.

Finally, take a look at the current justices and who nominated each of them:

  • Rehnquist, Nixson
  • Stevens, Ford
  • O'Connor, Reagan
  • Scalia, Reagan
  • Kennedy, Reagan
  • Souter, Bush
  • Thomas, Bush
  • Ginsburg, Clinton
  • Breyer, Clinton

Thomas and Scalia are clearly far right in their political views, and are considered wins for the Republican presidents who put them in office. Rehnquist is also conservative. The rest, though, have frequently voted opposite the way they would be expected to, based on the president that nominated them.

There's a saying that the bench "makes liberals out of conservatives, and conservatives out of liberals". Souter is a great example. Bush was hoping to get a conservative justice, but Souter has become the court's leading liberal.

The point here, is that the whole issue of the president bending the Supreme Court to his will with new nominations is bunk. The Supreme Court rarely answers to anyone (that's by design), and a president's nominees are far from a sure thing.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

crispin glover (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by grifter17 on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 02:52:55 PM EST

The obvious implication of this technology is its effects on the acting profession. Will there be any need to pay an actor such as Julia Roberts $20 million per film when an indistinguishable computer generated duplicate can be created for a significantly lesser cost?<i/>

The studio would still need to pay the actor, there was a lawsuit a few years back when Spielberg tried to create an artificial Crispin Glover for "Back to the Future 2" by taking old footage and mixing it with some actor who had plastecine or something on his face to make it look like Crispin Glover. The actor sued and now the screen actors guild has some rules against using likenesses without permission.



Already an issue (4.00 / 3) (#32)
by DJBongHit on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:17:33 PM EST

It has been possible for awhile now to doctor a photograph or video so that it shows a scene that simply never happened - Michael Chrichton talks about this in Rising Sun, I think (might have been a different book though, I haven't read it in a long time). Just because it's possible to do this with CGI rather than piecing together other things doesn't bring up many new issues. It's already possible to put together a video tape showing you with an 18 year old secretary that your wife wouldn't believe is fake.

CGI will, in the future, offer even more possibilities when we get to the point where we can make 100% realistic people, but we're not there yet - not by a longshot. It's simply not possible, using current technology, to make a video of a person talking, or whatever, which is indistinguishable from the real thing - the human eye is very good at noticing small irregularities and errors and isn't easily fooled, especially when looking at something we look at every day, like a human talking. The expressions and movements have to be 100% perfect for it to be even a little bit convincing, and this is a daunting task.

This is the closest thing I've ever seen to a completely realistic human head. It was done in 3D Studio MAX, and obviously took many many days of work. You'd need to start with a model like that and animate it perfectly to get a realistic likeness of somebody talking. Unless you've tried to do 3D animation, you have no idea how hard that would be. In movies like Final Fantasy, the animation is superb and extremely well done, but nobody would confuse it with real life.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

CGI and evidence (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by tfoh on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:32:26 PM EST

I believe that an even more serious issue than whether actors will have work is impact of CGI on certain types of evidence. Video and audio evidence holds much weight in many court cases, and is considered much more reliable than eyewitness testimony. With easy means of obtaining digital source material (digital still and video cameras) and more powerful editing tools available, it won't be too long before a talented person can doctor a digital image as well as the folks at ILM. Enough people take video evidence at face value that this could represent a serious problem for years to come. I guess we need some accepted way of signing digital media content, but I digress.

Computer Child Porn (3.00 / 3) (#42)
by Ipsin Trippix on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:15:15 PM EST

Outlawing purely computer-generated "child porn" seems like a bad idea. Start with a question: How old are people who do not exist? I can draw a picture of a naked man or woman who looks underdeveloped. In the U.S., I can photograph men and women who look underdeveloped, but are over 18. The second is legal. The first is arguably not.

When we've got judges deciding whether fictional characters look 18 or not, we've got a real problem, and the name of that problem is prior restraint on free speech.

I have no sexual interest in this sort of material, but I also don't believe that it should be quashed out of hand.

Hmm. Kiddie porn? (4.50 / 4) (#43)
by Ring Kichard on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:41:11 PM EST

I once heard that all gay men were child molesters. I quit boy scouts.
Now I'm hearing that all pedophiles are child molesters. Hmm.

Child porno is not wrong because pedophiles enjoy it, it's wrong because child molesters make it.

If porno is made by molesting children, then it's wrong.
If it's made by $10,000 software, it's not.

Before we censor it, maybe we ought to find a victim. They tell me that a victim was an important part of a prosecution under common law, way back when. I wonder what happened....

"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- The rest of us will go to the stars."
Child porno has another purpose, too (1.00 / 2) (#48)
by NKJensen on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 08:42:47 AM EST

It helps the potential molester get rid of his opposition against acting out his fantasies in the physical world.

Most child molesters know that what they do is wrong but using child porno they may be able to fool themselves into beliving that it is OK. At least that's a theory I've heard and I think that it could be true. What do you think?
--
From Denmark. I like it, I live there. France is another great place.
[ Parent ]

Desensitization. (none / 0) (#55)
by Ring Kichard on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 12:02:14 AM EST

Hmm.

I've heard that often, when houses are raided for kiddie porn, they find children's clothing catalogues, church announcements, and other innocent pictures of children turned to *other* uses. If it is true, there's always other sources of little kids.

Now, if we're talking "action" pictures, I don't know what to say. Do images of war in Kosivo convince people that war is ok? Maybe some, yaha. Will some people seize on any excuse? Sure. But even if kiddie porn is illegal, it won't stop them. If they actually rape a child, they've already shown a willingness to break the law. Can we take all the sharp corners off the world? I need scissors to do my job...


"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- The rest of us will go to the stars."
[ Parent ]
May bring back the theatre (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by dyskordus on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:52:01 PM EST

In the unlikely event that all movies become CGI, people may want to see more plays.

I think it would be wonderful if the desire for decent performances caused the theatre to come back to it's old self.

Currently most big plays are musicals, which I for one hate. I think it would be great if we had modern material of the same quality as Shakespeare. Stories with interesting characters, and none of that damned singing and dancing!


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.

Techno and classical (none / 0) (#49)
by Beorn on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 08:44:45 AM EST

In the unlikely event that all movies become CGI, people may want to see more plays.

Not more than techno has made people want to listen to classical music. There is nothing natural about making movies with real actors, it's just easier.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

What about ultra-realistic violence? (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by ToastyKen on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 03:46:12 AM EST

First of all, I'm a big defender of violence in video games on the market. I see no evidence that kids fail to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I know that a lot of people on this site feel as I do, that blaming video game violence for social problems is scapegoating at best.

However, as CGI gets more realistic, I can the situation changing.. I'm not SURE this will happen, but I can see violence with realistic images as potentially a giant leap more disturbing than clearly animated violence.

Arguing against this would be the fact that people are typically fine with watching horror flicks or dramas with realistic violence..

But still, does anyone else see interactively created violence as becoming psychologically unhealthy once CGI gets really realistic?

The heroin theory (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Beorn on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 08:39:22 AM EST

I'm not SURE this will happen, but I can see violence with realistic images as potentially a giant leap more disturbing than clearly animated violence.

Yes, but I don't believe this will make movies more violent. That assumes the conservative theory that violence (and sex) in art is like heroin: It's only there for the shock effect, and once you're hooked you need stronger and stronger doses. I strongly disagree with this. I believe that there are concepts and ideas that always will (and should) be considered shocking in a civilized society - even to teenage boys. Everyone has a limit to how disturbing images they want to see, and new technology won't change this, (but it will give extremist minorities more to enjoy.)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Good point (none / 0) (#53)
by ToastyKen on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 04:43:12 AM EST

Excellent point, Beorn. I guess I've been assuming that people won't mind truly realistic violence in videogames, but when I think about it, even the most violent of (relatively mainstream) movies have their limit, either by not showing certain things, or by making them okay through over-doing it and turning it into camp.

So from that point of view, I guess maybe you're right, and the trend toward realistic violence won't be sustained as graphics technology improves. Come to think of it, the "gibbing" in games today is already becoming pretty campy, to the point of being more like a horror film..

After all I'm pretty sure I. won't like truly realistic violence despite liking Quake, et al. I suppose it only makes sense to assume that a fair number of people, perhaps even the majority, will be like me, and have a line they'll draw somewhere.

[ Parent ]

Virtual Actors (none / 0) (#50)
by JonesBoy on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 10:28:41 AM EST

I watch jackie chan movies because I know it is real. Sure, schwartzenegger can be shot, blown up, crushed in a hydraulic press, but I know it is fantasy. It has little or no emotional effects on me. When I watch a real movie, like a foreign flick that didn't have the buget, or a masochist like Mr. Chan, I know it is real. I know that the person took a personal risk, and had the psychological courage to even attempt the stunt. Watch some of the stuff that people like Charlie Chaplin did. It is simply amazing. Nothing can replace the awe of knowing something is real rather than fake. Sure, fake movie stunts are nice, but I believe they will always be separate, yet overlapping markets.

As far as blackmail goes, I doubt it will be as bad as it is now. If the technology becomes commonplace where realistic images are easily created (undetectably), then people will become more cynical of the appearance of these images. The greatest fear is not the actual image anyway. It is the guilty before proven innocent part. The media circus that ensues after an unsubstantiated accusation is presented to the reporters. In New Jersey, a teacher is being accused of pedophilia/molestation. No evedience yet, no case yet, but I can gaurantee his carrrear of a teacher is over.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
1984 (none / 0) (#54)
by SteveSmith on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:16:42 AM EST

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past". (I haven't got the book in front of me right now, so don't flame if the quote is slightly off).
CGI is a powerful tool for manipulating the historical record. When (not if) it becomes impossible to tell a fake from a real picture, the past will become very fluid. <paraniod> If a suitable conspiracy (mainstream media - govt. would not need to be involved) so desired, events outside living memory could be purged or inserted easily. Of course, you can argue that this happens already.</paranoid>

The downside of ultra realistic CGI | 55 comments (55 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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