Tag Archives: Uncanny Valley

Avatar Analysis Part 3

The release of Avatar sparked a technological revolution in the movie industry. Even before the movie was released back in 2009, movie critics were eager with excitement at this movie, believing that it would spark the next generation of movie making, mostly due to the new digital 3D technology that would be used in James Cameron’s latest movie which would be a vast improvement on the conventional cardboard 3D glasses with the red and green lenses. However, a number

Example of Uncanny Valley

of new technological advances were also used in the making the film. One of which was the use of new motion capture technology to overcome the problems of uncanny valley, a hypothesis that suggests that a nonhuman object that is close to resembling a human being but is not perfect causes humans to repulse the nonhuman object, such as a robot for example. In an interview, James Cameron stated that: “…if you didn’t see a soul there – it would just be a big clanking machine.” Whilst further emphasizing that they: “…have to be real, they have to be alive.” To overcome this problem, a new performance capture technology was created where the actors wore individually made skullcaps that were fitted with a camera that was positioned inches away from their face. This type of technology allowed 100% of the actors detailed facial movements to be transferred over to their CGI counterpart thus allowing Cameron to overcome uncanny valley. Alongside this, the Stereotypic 3D Fusion Camera was created specifically for the movie to create 3D images whilst also being able to blend live action and CGI seamlessly. This was not its only use however. Yet again, new technology was created for the making of the movie in the form of a Virtual Camera System, which allowed the actor’s virtual counterpart and their digital surroundings to be seen in real time thus allowing the Cameron to adjust scenes just how he liked. In addition, a Simul-Cam, a mix between the Fusion Camera and the Virtual Camera System, was created to allow the camera operator to see the CGI characters and digital surroundings through the cameras eyepiece. This was extremely effective as it allowed Cameron to tell the actors how exactly to relate to their virtual surroundings.

Check out this video for the making of one of the movies sequences:

Avatar helped springboard 3D back into films

The release of Avatar in cinemas across the globe brought many changes to the film industry whilst also encouraging many to take their own spin on this new sci-fi epic. For starters, Avatar become the first film to be filmed entirely in stereotypic 3D, which was a great achievement at the time of the release of the film. With production companies realising the success Avatar had at the box office due to the increased price of cinema tickets that came with the use of 3D technology, more and more films that were being produced were now coming with the option of watching the film in 3D at the cinema. This allowed the production companies to raise more from their movies at the box office even if they were not as
successful as they first hoped for. Some of these films would just

Ben Stiller at the Oscars

have the 3D effect added over the top of the original footage in post production, instead of being filmed in 3D, as the companies knew that they could still charge extra for the privilege of watching the film in 3D. Up to this day, a high number of films are now being shown in 3D although audiences are now becoming less interested in 3D movies as some see it as more of a gimmick whilst the prices of tickets for 3D films are rising. The success of Avatar has also brought about many parodies about the film. At the 2010 Oscars, comedian Ben Stiller came out dressed as a N’avi whilst presenting the award for best makeup. In addition, famous animated cartoons such as The Simpsons and South Park started parodying Avatar whilst spoof films such as ‘The Greatest Movie of all Time’ and ‘Aliens vs Avatars’ were also created to make fun at sci-fi movie.

The Simpsons parodying Avatar