Skip to main content

Activision Reveals Animated Human That Looks So Real, It's Uncanny

Activision animation
Activision showed off the state of the art of real-time graphics on Wednesday, releasing this mind-boggling character demo. The character's skin, facial expressions and eyes look so real, it's uncanny.
When you watch this video, see if you think this character has reached the other side of what's commonly called the "uncanny valley," a term first uttered by early robotics guru Masahiro Mori in 1970. It describes the range of sophistication of
animated graphics, from one side of the valley where human figures simply look unrealistic, to the middle of the valley — where they look just realistic enough to be creepy — to our side of the valley, where animation is indistinguishable from reality.

Whenever the uncanny valley is mentioned, the animation techniques from the November, 2004 movie Polar Express come to mind. Most viewers noticed the characters weren't quite photorealistic enough to keep them out of the creepy zone. But that was nearly 8 years ago, and graphics technology has made spectacular progress since then.

This newest character edges ever-so-closely to our own side of the uncanny valley, where art is indistinguishable from reality.
This newest character edges ever-so-closely to our own side of the uncanny valley, where art is indistinguishable from reality. That's thanks to what game developer Activision calls "next-generation character rendering." This character is part of a presentation Activision's real-time graphics R&D expert Jorge Jimenez gave on Wednesday at GDC 2013, the annual Game Development Conference.
According to Jimenez, this face and others like it represent "the culmination of many years of work in photorealistic characters." At the presentation, Jimenez showed "how each detail is the secret for achieving reality."
The trick for these gaming developers is not only to create photorealistic animated characters, but to ensure that such animations can play in real time on video cards and computers that ordinary people actually own. And that's what Activision has done, using standard bone animation, facial scanning, performance capture and lots of intricate artwork to make skin look real.
Jimenez wrote in his blog about how this type of animation has made tremendous progress. "We believe this technology will bring current-generation characters into next-generation life." Like baseball great Babe Ruth pointing at the center-field fence, before his presentation Jimenez declared this animation would be rendered live, and "we will show it running on our two-year-old laptop."

I think this is impressive, but not perfect yet. For instance, look at the guy's teeth. And what about hair (not that there's anything wrong with that clean-headed look)?
Do you think this character looks real enough to fool people if it were used in a motion picture or video game? Or is it still creepy enough to be considered a resident of the uncanny valley? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Graphics and video courtesy Activision

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LG’s first flexible OLED phone due before the year is out

LG plans to launch a flexible OLED smartphone before the end of the year, the company’s VP of mobile has confirmed, though it’s unclear to what extent the work-in-progress handset will actually flex. The OLED panel in question is the handiwork of LG Display according to VP of LG mobile Yoon Bu-hyun, the WSJ  reports, with the proposed device set to launch sometime in Q4. LG Display’s work on flexible OLEDs has been underway for some time, though the company’s efforts have perhaps been overshadowed somewhat by rival Samsung’s YOUM development. Last year, according to a Korea Times report, LG Display was preparing for

Syrian Electronic Army claims credit for CBS Twitter accounts hack

Yesterday, several of CBS ’s Twitter accounts were hacked, including its main account, and its accounts for 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, and CBS Denver. The hackers got into the account and tweeted a series of things relating to President Obama and the United States being in cahoots with Al-Qaeda . The tweets also had links that led users to malware-infested sites. While CBS was able to regain access to its accounts, it was unable to figure out who was behind the attacks, until now. The Syrian Electronic Army , the same group that hacked 3 of the BBC’s Twitter accounts, claimed

Can Technology Do a Better Job of Finding Bombs?

 With the horrifying images of the Boston Marathon bombing still much too fresh in our minds, and with citywide marathons coming up this weekend in London, Hamburg, and Salt Lake City , law enforcement officers and citizens everywhere are asking how to prevent the tragedy from being repeated. As Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs adjunct professor Abraham Wagner observed last year, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, there’s “no magic bullet o