Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crossing the Uncanny Valley

Ramblings Post #301
Technology is both a wonderful and cruel thing. It can ruin industries by making them obsolete, and turn others in almost comedic gold rushes. And what we'll come to realize in time is that constantly moving forward isn't always the best plan, if only because we're human and we need a bit of structure to hang our lives on. Until then I'm going to suggest that society strap itself in real tight, because it's gonna start going real fast for a minute. Don't forget your goggles.  

We will reach a point when we finally cross the Uncanny Valley. Then Hollywood will need to be very, very afraid.

When I was kid I used to read a comic called American Flagg. Well, to be honest comic was the wrong word, because it was the first book I read where the villains had motivations other than your comic basics, i.e., world domination, petty revenge or the next big score. It was the book that introduced me to political heroes that weren't so much heroes, more like people just trying to make sure they can get a decent breakfast the next morning. But why this is relevant is that the main character was a guy called Reuben Flagg, a former television star who had been replaced because they could computer generate his image so convincingly that nobody noticed. That day is fast approaching. There is a shot at the end of Iron Man 3 where RDJ wasn't available, so they digitally created a Tony Stark and added him in. Not Iron Man, Tony Stark, the human person. And we didn't even notice.

Fifteen years from now, the we'll be able to regularly digitally create actors and put them in anything we want. Actors will have their images leased for whole films or a television series, not just how you see past stars sometimes in commercials now, artistically re-cut to fit the limited available motion. Desperate actors may even sell their avatars outright. The enterprising estates of some 50's and 60's actors means we may even get to see Cary Grant and Scarlett Johansson in a new romantic comedy. And then someone, probably in a garage somewhere in Oklahoma will figure out how to do it for cheap with stolen profile information.

And, then we'll get these... bootleg remakes of films not intended to be remade. And I'm willing to bet that some them, with fan perceived plot holes fixed and filled with fantasy casts will be traded around baseball card style on private networks and at the various Cons. One or two might even be converted into actual films, the rough edges smoothed out and the sound fixed because Hollywood has a way of taking good ideas that start other places and capitalizing on them.

This future is so golden, I almost can't wait.

(Note: I didn't make any of these images, but they inspired this post. The idea of a couple of these, just like wow!) 

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