Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pixar's work finally slides into the Uncanny Valley

There's a hypothesis in animation called "The Uncanny Valley".. It states that something featuring live characters becomes more realistic, it for a while becomes more enjoyable. Then it suffers from something called The Uncanny Valley, where becoming more realistic makes it more creepy.

Pixar's work was always the coolest to me because I thought it successfully stood atop the "stylized" peak right before the Uncanny Valley.

*micro spoiler alert*

There are dog crowd scenes in the new movie, Up. They have one main character dog who is very stylized in construction (and featured in the TV commercials). But there is a plot conflict between this dog and a crowd of other dogs, many of which are much more photo-realistically constructed.

When there's one photo-realistic dog on the screen, emoting, it seems pretty cool. But there are scenes when they show a dozen, and because they are photorealistic, they look like zombies. I think there are both creepily over-acting dogs and creepily wooden dogs in a few scenes in the movie.

I've always bristled in animation when critics demand photorealism. I think that these critics don't understand the Uncanny Valley hypothesis.

Pixar UP Full Length Movie Trailer - HD High Quality - The best bloopers are here

1 comment:

Rob said...

I've long had problems with CGI in films (I mean, I still get a kick out of the Enterprise model leaving spacedock or Chrisopher Reeve on wires) and CGI just bugs me, but I am curious to see how far they can go with it. I wasn't aware of an "uncanny valley", but I have seen enough advanced CG animation that gets into the "creepy" area. I just don't know if CG will ever get to the point of having a real, live feel to it (maybe it will. Who knows.)