CGI’s Manifest Destiny: Leaving the Uncanny Valley

The Polar Express
By  · Published on November 20th, 2017

We can’t blur out Superman’s mustache, but we can do a lot of other things.

It’s 2017 and computer graphics have gotten so close to what we see every day that the term photorealistic is now aptly applied to animation of all kinds. Leaps and strides towards this strange goal have been taken since animation’s advent – when realism was the unspoken yet understood pinnacle of desirability.

Animator and editor Alan Warburton created a video taking this progress a step further: if CGI has reached this point in photorealism, has the Uncanny Valley been conquered? And where, if so, does CGI go from here?

The Uncanny Valley is what makes the rubbery creeps of The Polar Express so off-putting, because we’re all a little afraid of things that are ALMOST like us. A little off is way worse than nothing alike. So if our CGI can create photorealistic people – which I’m not entirely sure we are, even if we can – understanding the frontier and beyond, what comes next, is one of the most exciting things about the form, and Warburton’s expertise makes it easy to join in.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).