It’s no secret that I really enjoy high-tech. Ever since I was a kid, I get excited about the latest high-tech innovation or gadget. I made a career out of this passion, and over many years, I’ve seen how things not directly related to high tech are affected by it. Movie making is a good example. Thirty years ago, who would have thought that you could create a movie almost completely inside a computer? Avatar has proven that this can be done, and though it was expensive to produce, it proved that the technology is ready. Avatar is not necessarily ground-breaking in its innovative use of computers, though it has brought attention to what is now possible. It’s also raised some questions as to whether or not actors will have to take a position in the unemployment line, now that they can be replaced by avatars.
In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I believe the job of acting will only get more difficult and demanding.
I base my opinion on my many years experience with high technology and my accumulated knowledge of what machines can and cannot do. You can program a computer to create a photo-realistic picture, and you can simulate moving around in that picture in 3D. If you’ve seen Avatar, you know how wonderfully realistic a computer can render a scene. My guess is that directors will love this technology, as they can move their virtual camera to any position and shoot at any angle.
But computers cannot seem to model humans very well. You can draw a realistic human face, but crafting a genuine emotion on that face is extraordinarily difficult. You can also make a human avatar walk, but it will look really cheesy. It turns out that computers are very good at calculating the mechanics of balance, and thus they can calculate how humans should walk, but real people walk with a gate that just looks a lot different. Why? Because every step you take, you have to fight for balance, and whether or not you realize it, you’re constantly making corrections in your stance, constantly fighting for balance. And in this battle against gravity, much of your motion is non-linear and almost impossible to predict.
The same argument can be made for human-to-human interaction. Much of our interaction is non-verbal. We call it “body language,” and again, we’re not very conscious of it because it comes so naturally. It’s a language we learned long before we could speak. And it’s a language that computers can only mimic but never understand.
Because of the difficulties in creating the non-verbal nuances and subtle physical behavior, actors have to instruct the computers on recreating human interaction. To do this, they must don special clothing with bright colored dots and mechanical sensors before acting out a scene. Computers will then read information from the dots and mechanical sensors, and then "render" the virtual character's motions into the virtual scene. This is going to be very difficult for the actors. In the old days, it was difficult enough trying to act natural when surrounded with fake scenery and a crew of cameramen, but these days, actors have to tolerate no scenery at all and no visible cues, yet somehow manage to act as if they are immersed in the full scenery of the final movie.
I’m not an actor. I don’t even play one on TV. But I'm sure the future of acting is going to get more difficult as more and more computer rendering is used to create the final product. For sure, there will be a degree of job security for actors. The only problem they may run into is that their physical identity will not be rendered into the final cut, and this may bruise a few egos.
With all this technology helping Hollywood make movies, we can only hope that the underlying stories get better as well. Hmmmm … Methinks that’s not going to happen.
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written by rolex replica, December 05, 2012