The secrets of creating real-looking CG digital doubles

IN THE PRESS | Digital Arts Online | March 8, 2018 | Original Article

Joao Sita discusses how Image Engine avoids the uncanny valley when creating CG humans, as it did for last year’s ‘X-Men for grownups’ film, Logan. He says crossing it requires less showing off, and more hiding behind the curtain.

If we’re going to cross the uncanny valley, then what the audience doesn’t see matters as much as that which they do.

This is a thought that I’ve let ruminate in my mind over some ten years of my career. 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the source. David Fincher’s fantasy not only signalled a sea change in visual effects’ ability to augment a film’s narrative but also their ability to conjure photoreal CG actors indistinguishable from those of flesh and blood.

We’d seen many attempts before, but never as polished or accomplished as the digitally re-aged Brad Pitt. Benjamin Button inspired many more attempts at CG characters. Each was more impressive than the last: Tron: Legacy’s Clu, Star Wars: Rogue One’s Grand Moff Tarkin, and, most recently Blade Runner 2049’s superb revival of Sean Young’s Rachel.

Watching these artistic achievements on screen, I always return to the same thought. What’s working here isn’t what I can see. It’s what I can’t.

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