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Emily brings us out of the Uncanny Valley
August 19, 2008 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Emily is considered to be one of the first animations to have overleapt a long-standing barrier known as 'uncanny valley' (watch the video) - from the team who, in part, brought you GTA4.

Previously, sort of. The video linked above is definitely most realistic I've seen any CGI.
posted by nitsuj (102 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
*Gathers George Bush and Dick Cheney photos and begins writing the first draft of "Brokeback White House"*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 PM on August 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


I like the uncanny valley.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


Is it really just motion capture with more markers?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think that thing ran up to the Uncanny Valley, paused to just long enough to douse itself in kerosene and pull out a Zippo, and then fell, flaming and screaming, until it made a Wile E. Coyote "whump" at the bottom.

It did not look like a human being. It looked 94% human, which is what makes the Uncanny Valley creepy.
posted by Shepherd at 3:25 PM on August 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


a) still mocap. No one has solved the problem of automatically making facial movements given simple instructions without a human actor getting in at some point.

b) the web video is about as low-res as possible. Grover looks photo-realistic at that resolution.

c) SHE IS NOT REAL. WE TOLD YOU TWICE IN CASE YOU DON'T BELIEVE US!
posted by GuyZero at 3:30 PM on August 19, 2008 [12 favorites]


Closer, but still, it's the eyes - 10% of the face, 95% of the emotion - that are gonna take another decade to perfect.

Plus the teeth look...fat. Like she has invisible braces or something.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:32 PM on August 19, 2008


It's a huge improvement over what I've seen in the past, but it's still not 100%, the eyes still seem wrong, particularly in their movement. Though, to be honest, if I was watching that and didn't know better, I would just have assumed it was a real person with glaucoma or something.

That said, if you want to show me how good your effects are, and how unspooky the CG appears, don't have the girl's face become some kind of iron demon part way through.
posted by quin at 3:32 PM on August 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


where are the dimples?
posted by parmanparman at 3:32 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Still creepy. Nice try though, face nerds.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:34 PM on August 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


Only the face is CGI, though. The rest of her - the body, the hair, the voice - and the background is video of a woman in a studio.
posted by tapeguy at 3:34 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Only the face is CGI, though. The rest of her - the body, the hair, the voice - and the background is video of a woman in a studio.

Ha! I watched it and was amazed at what a good job they did with the fabric of her shirt. I guess that explains it.
posted by procrastination at 3:37 PM on August 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


Very promising technology, especially for indie movie makers. Just imagine being able to create believable crowds - small and huge - of people just using a software application. No more expensive extras, props or resources.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:37 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah, not getting a boner over here. Fail.
posted by bardic at 3:38 PM on August 19, 2008 [12 favorites]


Too much foundation.
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:39 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Only the face is CGI, though. The rest of her - the body, the hair, the voice - and the background is video of a woman in a studio.

That explains why the face seems to float on the screen and looks a bit flat. A little like the video of Lenin's statue from this thread.
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:43 PM on August 19, 2008


Just imagine being able to create believable crowds...

Uh, yeah, imagine... Massive does this today but each face is only a few pixels, so the uncanny valley doesn't really come into it.
posted by GuyZero at 3:44 PM on August 19, 2008


Those eyes! There's always something wrong with the eyes.

Also, I like how they try to distract you from the subtle creepiness of the normal model by following with the blatant creepiness of Horrible Sunburn Lady, Creepy-Toothed Sock-Head Girl, and the Tar-Faced Abomination.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Eh, not so bad, for something with crappy resolution and a small player window.

I still prefer to think of the UNCANNY VALLEY as a euphemism. As in:

Even though I go through the uncanny valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

or

I'd sure like to explore her uncanny valley
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Somewhere down the valley, the Uncanny River confluences with the River Botox.
posted by popcassady at 3:51 PM on August 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


I agree with her, they have a long way to go. The hair and the shirt were the best parts of the animation, so if that wasn't real, I don't know what to think.

This sort of reminds me of the Mojave experiment. Sure, it looks great at a cursory glance and with plenty of positive reinforcement and people telling me how amazing it is, but if you had to sit and work with this thing for a couple of hours, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you'll find it creepy and off-putting.

One of those things about the uncanny valley is that the closer something is to human, the more creepy it is. It may not be creepy right away, but all those subtle little problems add up over time, and pretty soon you're talking to a zombie, or paying somebody to reinstall XP.
posted by sportbucket at 3:53 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah. Overrated.

Show me a demo where the entire thing is CGI (not just the face) and the resolution is high enough that a barbie doll won't look real and there is no motion capture and then we can talk.

Low res + motion capture + only the face is CGI = fail.
posted by Justinian at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think putting a putty coloured face onto a real human is cheating. I was going 'Wow, they got ever detail except that her mouth is on the side of her face' until I realized the problem.
posted by Phalene at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2008


Turns out Emily is real. You've been punked. (I could tell by the pixels.)
posted by found missing at 3:58 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I prefer Barbara in The Big Valley.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:01 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


So many complaints. Yet people seem to love the work they have actually done. Considering failure to be that they have not totally convinced you is a bit naive...
posted by LoopyG at 4:01 PM on August 19, 2008


She has Gollum's eyes.

Precious.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:02 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Totally overblown. This is, essentially, a digital face mask. I suppose that's great for ugly actors, or for obsessive directors who have an exact "look" in mind for a character. Even then, it's still right smack dab in the the middle of the uncanny valley.

As said above: the eyes. Even though they brag about the work they did on the eyes and how important they are, they're still not right.

To me, the seem to float in space. They're not tied to the muscles underneath, even though they're looking in the right directions at the right times.
posted by C.Batt at 4:02 PM on August 19, 2008


Still can't wait for the era where animating humans gets up to 99.9% and only highly trained experts can tell what's real or not in videos. I wish it would hurry up cause I'd be one of those cool science fiction novel guys who is the only one who can tell what is real.

And the plot would revolve around me starting to doubt my abilities.

It will be called FACETELLER.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:02 PM on August 19, 2008 [20 favorites]


So many complaints. Yet people seem to love the work they have actually done. Considering failure to be that they have not totally convinced you is a bit naive...
It's not failure in that they don't totally convince me, it's failure in that they hype it to be totally convincing when it isn't.

Is it close? Sure. Is it boast worthy? Yes. Is it as good as some people are making it out to be? No freaking way.
posted by C.Batt at 4:04 PM on August 19, 2008


I think putting a putty coloured face onto a real human is cheating. I was going 'Wow, they got ever detail except that her mouth is on the side of her face' until I realized the problem.

Essentially what they've done is filmed someone, captured the movements and then animated those movements over the same footage.

It's like that bit in Chasing Amy where everyone keeps calling Jason Lee the 'tracer'.
posted by tapeguy at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


The eyes are moving too smoothly. Real people's eyes will flick, her eyes are rolling around in her head.
posted by stavrogin at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2008


Would have been interesting to do two videos -- one real, one fake, and ask people to choose which one is the real one.

Or, if this is just a face rig, show me the real actress and the fake side-by-side, and digitally remove the marker balls from the real video with the minimum necessary processing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Very good, but her teeth seem too mobile, as if her skull and jaw weren't fixed bone.

The uncanny valley needn't apply to just human characters. I noticed a tiny bit of uncanny valley effect watching the otherwise very entertaining Kung Fu Panda. The characters' eyes are oddly stuck to their faces, as if painted on the outside of their heads rather than being orbs within sockets, and the characters' feet look like stiff boots with painted pads, rather than flexing like paws or feet would.

But noticing those things, and the same applies to Emily, is in itself an acknowledgement that everything else looked right.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah, not getting a boner over here. Fail.

Sorry about your weiner bardic.
posted by jessamyn at 4:08 PM on August 19, 2008 [14 favorites]


I think Emily could pass for a post-reconstructive surgery burn victim who took some neurological damage.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, I don't know, I think I'd ... wait for it ... I'd ... I'd ...

Oh hell, I just can't do it.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:23 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


the teeth are weird, that's the problem (although maybe the teeth are just weird enough to divert attention from any other problem)
posted by jcruelty at 4:25 PM on August 19, 2008


Even then, it's still right smack dab in the the middle of the uncanny valley.

Nah. Final Fantasy: Spirits Within was smack dab in the middle. This is about a third of the way back up the far side. Long ways to go, yet.
posted by Ryvar at 4:27 PM on August 19, 2008


Picasso face. Her nose has no three dimensionality it is just a 2D nose wrapped on an ovoid sliding back and forth as she turns her head.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:28 PM on August 19, 2008


Would have been interesting to do two videos -- one real, one fake, and ask people to choose which one is the real one.

I agree. Being told ahead of time that what we are about to see is animation, we automatically search the video for hints of CGI, and find them. Given two to choose from would have been a real marker for how convincing this is.

That said, I liked Emily's scripted self-deprecation.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


She should hold her arms out slightly and gently wave them, like computer game characters do. And blink a lot.
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Her overleaping has embiggened us all with its cromulent performance.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:37 PM on August 19, 2008


I am finding that not being able to link to a clip of the 30 Rock definition of the The Uncanny Valley right now is terribly frustrating.
posted by mecran01 at 4:47 PM on August 19, 2008


It seems like an extremely accurate rendering of a woman born with concrete where her facial muscles should be.
posted by DU at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2008


Her movements just seemed too crisp and discrete, especially the nodding and the eyeblinks, but the whole production is certainly better than a lot of similar work.
posted by maudlin at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2008


Only the face is CGI, though

That's weak, all they were doing is copying and they still couldn't get the eyes to look like something other than an undead zombie psycho demon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Higher-res version on Youtube
posted by smackfu at 4:55 PM on August 19, 2008


After watching Beowulf, I figured out the Uncanny Valley problem that all these CGI guys haven't. It seems to me that to get realistic movement, especially with the mouth and lips when speaking, animators have to individually animate every syllable, word, and sentence to match with the voice actor. As it is now, animators just plug in a certain mouth position, but too often it doesn't gel with the lips, or the teeth, or the nose, or cheek, etc. This imperfection gets shrugged off as "close enough".

I don't think there's a programming "magic bullet" to this. It's just a lot of elbow grease and lots and lots of time. Then again, animators and especially film producers probably do know this and don't do it because it would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.
posted by zardoz at 4:56 PM on August 19, 2008


C.Batt: "Totally overblown. This is, essentially, a digital face mask. I suppose that's great for ugly actors, or for obsessive directors who have an exact "look" in mind for a character."

So I expect this in a new Eddie Murphy movie where he plays 90 different looking characters. The movie will still suck.
posted by phyrewerx at 4:58 PM on August 19, 2008


This is rotoscoping the face. There are probably better ways to blend an actor's face into CGI... actually, watching the video, I'm certain there are. It's telling that the pitch-black "Demon Face" was the most realistic. It's the furthest out of the uncanny valley - 'OK, it's a creature, so we can start using emotional shorthand for it's facial features.'

So, nice try, no dice.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


As it is now, animators just plug in a certain mouth position, but too often it doesn't gel with the lips, or the teeth, or the nose, or cheek, etc.

That is really the point of this software.

And they're not really selling it as "photo-realistic". They're selling it as "fast, so you can pay your animators less". Which is much more valuable to game creators.
posted by smackfu at 5:02 PM on August 19, 2008


What bothers me about Emily is that her facial movements are too smooth. Actual human faces express a variety of involuntary, arhythmic tics, whether we're fully aware of it or not. The upper left corner of a friend's mouth pulls up slightly more than the right when they make an "e" sound, for example, or the flare their nostrils when making an "o" sound. Just as skin with a couple freckles, moles or blemishes looks more human to us than solid flesh tone, these subtle and irregular facial movements are what we register as human. In other words, what Emily's face is missing is chaos.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:04 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I feel a lot more connected to Keepon than Emily. (Previously here and here.)
posted by maudlin at 5:05 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


The CGI creation people bond with most this year is a cube with arms, wheels and a set of binoculars for a head, and yet it manages to be far more expressive than mask-face there. Perhaps they are trying to solve the wrong set of problems?
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


that the pitch-black "Demon Face"

Where was that? I wanna see the demon face!
posted by everichon at 5:15 PM on August 19, 2008


Higher-res version on Youtube

First time this phrase has ever been uttered.
posted by DU at 5:15 PM on August 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


Actually, what is wrong with Emily is that she does not have a bone and muscle structure. Nobody is going to get this right until they model a skull, with muscles overlaying it, and skin over that, and noting that the muscles thicken when they contract. With some study it should be possible to write some algorithms to shorthand how we use all those facial muscles so gestures don't have to be animated one muscle at a time, but that's what it will take for the teeth not to flap, the eyes to dart and bob properly, and the cheeks to not look like they're full of concrete.

This is a significant improvement over what exists but in a direction that is a dead end.
posted by localroger at 5:18 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, they're getting closer, but so far, it's just with better and better motion capture. That's useful, because you can hire someone who can really act, and then map his or her acting onto a computer model that looks how you want it to look. (aka, the Gollum Effect.)

But I don't think they'll officially be over the uncanny valley until they can procedurally animate a human, from scratch, and convince a majority of people that it's real.

I wonder if they'll have to get into consciousness modeling to do that; your brain is sending many many signals to your face, from many conflicting impulses. It's possible they may need to actually model that to some degree, to get all the little muscle twitches right.
posted by Malor at 5:23 PM on August 19, 2008


...and a hundred baby spiders came out... and they ate her.
posted by dhartung at 5:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


There is a very short segment of the real emily at the end of the youtube clip.
posted by Mitheral at 5:34 PM on August 19, 2008


Granting that this is a demo, which means that tankers of human sweat and a half-ton of pizza were probably expended in the process of creating it, when this level of realism-- even at this level of resolution-- becomes easily available and point-and-click, it'll still start putting folks out of work... which, from a commercial perspective, is half the point.

Of course, when still hicuppy Pasta_Face Beta is replaced by the actually usable PasteAFace 1.0, then Judy from the community theater troupe down the block can star as NotAngelina Jolie, playing in Tomb Raider 6, suddenly all those underused SAG cards may come in very handy.

And when WinPAF 3.0 arrives, well, obviously, then it looks like the cast for an action film will, in practice, consist of three guys from Carnegie-Mellon who like wearing t-shirts that advertise software firms, and are used to eating lots of pizza during marathon coding sessions.

I wonder if being able to rent celebrity faces at the click of a button will in fact reduce the number of celebrities... if the year 2025 versions of Elvis and Marilyn can be put on and in everything, that might mean there are only one or two tiers of media icon, the rest being made unnecessary...

In any case, we're looking at the near-future of webchat, webcams, and the like.

Which in turn suggests that online profiles and whatnot will soon have identity verification features embedded-- digital fingerprints to go with one's suspiciously model-like face...
posted by darth_tedious at 5:52 PM on August 19, 2008


I actually logged in just so I could favorite DU's YouTube comment.
posted by jeremy b at 5:57 PM on August 19, 2008


Well, if I saw the video (not the part where they show the rendering layers, obviously) I probably wouldn't have noticed anything. It is pretty low res, though. But on the other hand, I've seen facial animation that was at least as good as what's in this video before as well.

Ha! I watched it and was amazed at what a good job they did with the fabric of her shirt. I guess that explains it.

Yeah me too.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 PM on August 19, 2008


It will be called FACETELLER.

And awesome.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 PM on August 19, 2008


Holofilter
posted by finite at 6:25 PM on August 19, 2008


And when WinPAF 3.0 arrives, well, obviously, then it looks like the cast for an action film will, in practice, consist of three guys from Carnegie-Mellon who like wearing t-shirts that advertise software firms, and are used to eating lots of pizza during marathon coding sessions.

Last I checked, most Pixar films had a longer list of credits than the standard action film. Widespread use of CGI will not create a net reduction in the number of people needed to create a movie.
posted by GuyZero at 6:27 PM on August 19, 2008


Also, I think the "uncanny valley" is going to become less and less of a problem for kids who grow up watching CG. I can't remember the last time I felt "unnerved" by any CG, despite how close/slightly off it was. Now this robot, however.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on August 19, 2008


Higher-res version on Youtube
If you use the MetaFilter built-in player you won't see it. You have to go to YouTube and click on 'watch in high quality' (under the 'Views' count).
posted by tellurian at 6:29 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


KILL IT.

KILL IT WITH FIRE.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 6:37 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


What Artw said, over and over again, with some clue-bat waving. You don't solve the problem of naturalness and expressiveness simply by finer-grained imitation. You solve it with artistry, empathy and a knowledge of physiology. You solve a problem by understanding it, not by obsessively detailed imitation. The latter isn't solving it at all, because when you're done, even if it's good, you still don't know why it's good.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:43 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


George_Spiggott: Why do you need to know why it's good? That's what the computer is for.

Also that Keepon robot rules.
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on August 19, 2008


George_Spiggott: Why do you need to know why it's good? That's what the computer is for.

Your profile says you're a computer programmer. What sort of programs do you write, where it's not necessary to understand the problem space, or the solution, or why the solution works, in order to write them?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:57 PM on August 19, 2008


"The subtlety of the timing of eye movements is a big one.

True. And they didn't succeed with that one. I mean, nice try and all that, but the blinking is just . . . weird.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:59 PM on August 19, 2008


or why the solution works, in order to write them

Genetic algorithms solving problems result in solutions that don't make a damn bit of sense and no one really understands, but work anyway.

Kind of like the brain.
posted by flaterik at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2008


Still, more realistic than Meg Ryan.
posted by starman at 7:22 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


From this valley they say
you are going,
I will miss your dead eyes
and fake smile....
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:01 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, shit, she's more realistic than I am.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:21 PM on August 19, 2008


Besides, I'm an Emily that prefers to push people into the uncanny valley. Sometimes with a great deal of force.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:24 PM on August 19, 2008


Your profile says you're a computer programmer. What sort of programs do you write, where it's not necessary to understand the problem space, or the solution, or why the solution works, in order to write them?

The whole purpose of the machine learning sub-field is to get computers to understand things that humans may not. A good example you probably use every day would be google's spellcheck. No one at google sat down and wrote a list of every word and it's mispelling, indeed if you search for "keeepon" it will ask you if you meant "keepon". There is no 'theory of spelling' involved, although I would imagine that basic word lists were somehow involved.

But getting computers to discover solutions you don't know is the whole point of machine learning, and you may never need to know 'why' the solution works.
posted by delmoi at 8:41 PM on August 19, 2008


And the plot would revolve around me starting to doubt my abilities.

Suddenly everyone on the news (that fresh new war) looks faked...
And then people you meet on the street somehow don't look right...
And then Donald Sutherland won't stop screaming...

I like it.
posted by Paragon at 9:03 PM on August 19, 2008


Naysayers.
posted by sluglicker at 10:49 PM on August 19, 2008


Oh man, could you imagine the porn to be made from this technology?


(I guess the GTA guys have already done that somewhat with hot coffee.)
posted by mathowie at 10:51 PM on August 19, 2008


Oh man, could you imagine the porn to be made from this technology?

Unfortunately I can easily imagine the cheesy alien/monster damsel in distress space porn that will be made with this technology. If I could erase all the bad poserporn images from my brain I definitely would.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:04 PM on August 19, 2008


You're thinking small. It's not the kind of porn that will be made with this technology, it's the quantity. Code up a few scripts, automate the whole process, and start printing money.
posted by braksandwich at 11:41 PM on August 19, 2008


The disturbing thing for me is the likelihood of pornographers using motion capture technology to create astonishingly realistic child pornography by mapping adult porn stars onto models of children. Given that this process can be used on existing film/video, they wont even have to hire actors.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:11 AM on August 20, 2008


You're thinking small. It's not the kind of porn that will be made with this technology, it's the quantity. Code up a few scripts, automate the whole process, and start printing money.

Is there some porn shortage I don't know about? I don't think we're suffering from a lack of quantity as it is.

(Also, this requires a video source, so for this particular technique, it wouldn't be any easier then shooting a regular porn, remember, this is an animation technique, not a new rendering technology)
posted by delmoi at 12:15 AM on August 20, 2008


Yeah. Overrated.

Show me a demo where the entire thing is CGI (not just the face) and the resolution is high enough that a barbie doll won't look real and there is no motion capture and then we can talk.

Low res + motion capture + only the face is CGI = fail.


This was my reaction, too. But then again, I figure it's only a matter of time before they come up with something like Euphoria for facial animation.
posted by joedan at 12:20 AM on August 20, 2008


Delmoi, I'm not sure that it needs a new video source, and one could generate a lot of permutations from each source.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:59 AM on August 20, 2008


The disturbing thing for me is the likelihood of pornographers using motion capture technology to create astonishingly realistic child pornography by mapping adult porn stars onto models of children. Given that this process can be used on existing film/video, they wont even have to hire actors.

You can rest easy. Section 2256(8)(B) of title 18, United States Code specifically prohibits computer-generated child pornography when "(B) such visual depiction is a computer image or computer-generated image that is, or appears virtually indistinguishable from that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct", and the PROTECT act of 2003 also prohibits "drawings, sculptures, and pictures of such drawings and sculptures depicting minors in actions or situations that meet the Miller test of being obscene [i.e.: the average person would find it repugnant, and it lacks artistic merit] OR are engaged in sex acts that are deemed to meet the same obscene condition."

Of special note, though, is that "The law does not state that images of fictional beings who appear to be under 18 engaged in sexual acts that are not deemed to be obscene are rendered illegal in and of their own condition (illustration of sex of fictional minors)." In other words, you can draw, own, exchange and sell porn of underaged elves or goblins.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:06 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


PS: I'm aware that child pornographers bear little regard for the law as it is, but given the time, expense, technology and staffing needed to render Emily here, I don't think underground Image Metrics-style child porn is coming out any time soon.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:11 AM on August 20, 2008


You know, having watched the longer, higher res Youtube version linked above, the 'real Emily' who is shown right at the end does actually have odd-looking lips and a face that doesn't look quite right, at least from the angle being filmed. So I guess in a way, it's a pretty good copy. It'll be interesting when they apply this technology to someone old and grizzled, or animate a completely different face over someone else.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:00 AM on August 20, 2008


You do all know that we're talking about Emily O'Brien from The Young and the Restless, yes? A more plastic base model would be hard to find.
posted by tellurian at 6:00 AM on August 20, 2008


I think it looks CGI because I knew it was CGI and was looking for markers that it was CGI. If I didn't know it wasn't real I might have suspended disbelief.
posted by I Foody at 6:52 AM on August 20, 2008


delmoi writes "Also, this requires a video source, so for this particular technique, it wouldn't be any easier then shooting a regular porn, remember, this is an animation technique, not a new rendering technology"

It would allow for the specificity that seems to drive so much porn though. You could film a single scene and then distribute it with dozens of different skin tone and hair colour combinations. If they get hair down you could see different lengths and styles or even no hair at all. Even accommodate both sides of the shave debate. Eliminate or ramp up tattoos. Heck even personalized tattoos; I imagine POV porn where the actress's stamp incorporates your name would be a big hit.

And that doesn't even touch things like furries, slash, and cosplay.

Really the possibilities are endless if this can get good and cheap enough.
posted by Mitheral at 7:14 AM on August 20, 2008


At the end of the youtube video they have the real emily and it's just like the fake one except no blue eye shadow. I thought the eye shadow was the strangest part of the whole thing. this software isn't capable of changing a face, just adding some colors.
posted by bhnyc at 9:06 AM on August 20, 2008


You saw the grey demon-like face, right, bhnyc?
posted by owtytrof at 11:11 AM on August 20, 2008


I'm going to make one of these videos by just putting too much makeup on someone and filming them. Then you will all still say "the movements are too smooth and the eyes are dead."
posted by mfbridges at 1:41 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Marissa Stole the Precious Thing, the Miller test may be sufficiently narrow to present pornographer's with a workaround. If they produced a film that had an anti-molestation message, and then included obscene content, I'm not sure what the courts would do with it. Especially if they were careful about distribution. I never would have guessed ahead of time that CPPA would get shut down by the Supremes, but it seems to me that defining legal limitations on speech without leaving loopholes is an intractable problem. Also, I'm not sure the same penalties should apply for sexual depiction of fictitious children as for depiction of actual children.

This area of the law makes me extremely uncomfortable, as I support free speech, but am unhappy about its abuse by paedophiles and molestors. Also, being male in America and talking about even the legal theory of child porn makes me want to look over my shoulder for big brother or the torches and pitchforks mob.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:12 PM on August 20, 2008


Mitheral: It would allow for the specificity that seems to drive so much porn though. ... If they get hair down you could see different lengths and styles or even no hair at all.

Merkins in the Uncanny Valley. I can't wait.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:54 PM on August 20, 2008


I'm glad you raised that point, BrotherCaine. Child pornography in video and photographs is easily judged obscene because a child is being harmed. It is not a depiction. Someone who molested an actual child on video and then concluded by telling the camera, "Child molestation is wrong" is still going to prison. Depictions with a message or arguable artistic merit are another matter.

The Miller Test has always been controversial. I honestly believe most judges use the "I know it when I see it" method of determining whether or not something is obscene, more than anything else. But by Miller Test definition, a movie with an anti-molestation message might have shocking, disturbing, or upsetting content, but - because it could be argued that there is an artistic value in the content - it would probably pass the Miller Test. The movie Lilja 4 Ever, for example, features some pretty disturbing imagery of child rape (mostly in the form of putting the audience behind the eyes of the child during the actual rapes) but would probably pass the Miller Test because one of the movie's messages is raising awareness about human trafficking. Even Irreversible managed to somehow escape, despite a protracted and (in my opinion anyway) entirely unnecessarily long rape scene.

It is actually very, very difficult to have your work judged obscene in a court of law, even when politically motivated attacks go against small, low budget artists who don't have a mountain of cash at their disposal.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2008


Edit: Pornographers, not pornagrapher's. I wish someone would come along and censor my superfluous apostrophes.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:07 PM on August 20, 2008


This hasn't really swept past the uncanny valley, but I can see it sort of trying to claw its way out on the far slope of it. The eyes and teeth are still.... plastic-looking. Call me intolerant, but I think I might get a little uncomfortable talking to somebody with plastic eyes and teeth.
posted by tehloki at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2008


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