Uncanny valley – the movie

The Age has a brief article looking at how film makers are trying to avoid the ‘uncanny valley‘ – the phenomenon where artificially created characters seem more unnervingly odd as they are made more life-like.

The idea is that we’re so used to picking up the subtlies of human appearance that android-like figures seem cold and stilted whereas less life-like cartoons or animals can often seem more expressive and ‘warm’ because we aren’t distracted by their not-quite-right attempts at being human.

This is a concept developed by robotics researchers but is also important when film-makers are trying to make likeable characters that audiences will warm to.

The article has noted that film makers have spent a lot of time trying to develop computer software to simulate things like hair movement, in an attempt to improve realism.

It’s hard to say what exactly is off-putting about ‘artificial humans’ though, so it’s not easy to know what to focus on to improve their likeability.

This might be one area where significant advances in human-computer interaction might be driven by the film and entertainment industry.

Link to article ‘When fantasy is too close for comfort’.

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