Friday, August 15, 2008

Digital actors and living paintings.

I've been surveying the site of professor Voker Blanz, from the University of Siegen, who does a host of work on facial animation and on automated animation in photographs and paintings. As computing power continues to increase, I can envision whole archives of old movies being bought for "animation rights" to the actors. Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire -- they could all appear again, duly directed by the talents of the day. This will be especially easy if the data files for the current camera system which creates the sophisticated 3-D effects for digitizing actors are permanently archived at the big corporate studios.

Also, as the following video shows, producers could even cast Mona Lisa and other figures of fine arts:

I wonder how the original artists would view these developments. Of course, it's well known that the classic masters often worked on commission for wealthy families. It was common to paint, for example, medieval Dad's head on one of the people observing the crucifixion, so that his heirs to the painting would appreciate his piety long after he's turned to dust. I can't see much difference today if an ad exec is willing to pay digital actor creators enough cash to pitch their products to the appropriate markets. You can see the nascent start of this work in the video below:

Note that in this video, one set of emotions is troweled upon three different demographics. No doubt children and people of various ethnic backgrounds would be equally easy to animate for advertising purposes. With the mandate of digital television starting this year, and with a bit of database cross-checking, advertisers will eventually be able to statistically place the right "persons" within the advertisements for maximum psychological -- and, of course, monetary -- effect.


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At 1:46 AM, Anonymous Mr. Wright said...

That last video is pretty darn creepy. Alas, this technology would do a very good of job of maximizing the advertiser's dollar, thus allowing "the man" more affective ways of "keeping us down". On the upside, though, more Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve's face on Brandon (Superman Returns) Routh's body!


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