The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Archive for February 18th, 2005

Feb/05

18

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

From the blatant self promotion department…

Apple just put up a Pro story about the most fun job I worked on last year: A Musical Journey. This was one of the DVD Extras for the 40th Anniversary release of Mary Poppins.

The relevance for the blog is that we were able to recreate, and improve on, the effects done for the movie using standard desktop tools that 40 years ago had been cutting edge technology that lead to an Academy Award for the effects. Most of what I do every day was not possible for any amount of money when Mary Poppins was released.

Where do we end up if we continue down this path? I’ve been looking at game commercials on TV and the rendering is getting more and more realistic. On last night’s news there was a game commercial juxtaposed with some “war area” footage that looked like 10th generation VHS, and the humans in the game looked more realistic. The games are not even close to 100% realistic… yet. But it seems to be only a matter of time before we at least get close. Perhaps the “uncanny valley” effect will kick in. That’s what happens when animated characters get very close to being human, but turn out to be creepy because we become even more aware that they are not. (Think Polar Express and the eyes which couldn’t be motion tracked.).

Let’s assume that technology will overcome that little problem – 40 more years is a long time. Will completely synthetic storytelling replace acted ones? I’m certain it will become an option: what will be the “killer application” that keeps human actors employed?

Immersive storytelling is also likely to be everyday. A recent article talks about a more advanced version of Playstation’s EyeToy� that puts the player in the game or ToySight that uses your iSight camera as a game controller. The games right now are hardly deep storytelling but that’s only a matter of time. Heck, holographic projection is far enough advanced in the lab now, that a 30 year lab-to-loungroom cycle would put truly immersive storytelling within reach. (No work or breakthrough currently has ‘solid’ holographic project in the mode of Star Trek’s holodeck – these projections would be walk–through.)

I believe that game play will become a much more dominant form of entertainment than it is now, with realistic interactive stories – why watch James Bond when you can be James Bond (bring on the tactile body suit for the love scenes!)? If it’s possible, someone will do it, so what is the killer application that will keep human actors in “the movies” when your interactive “Friends” respond to you and include you in their hijinks? Will it simply be the lay-back inertia factor that will keep at least some entertainment totally passive? Will people want to get up and get involved with their entertainment – even part of the time. (Would this be more like going to the movies than home entertainment now?)

In the meantime, doing stuff on my laptop that couldn’t be done 40 years ago is a head trip.

February 2005
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