Steadily climbing out of that uncanny valley

Remember all those face emotions that Pendulum Studios showed us a bit back? They suck. Meet Emily. She doesn’t exist. She is completely and totally computer generated and she comes from the team at Image Metrics who did the animations for GTA4. Emily was created using a new form of motion capture which can track even the most minute details in facial expression, meaning the imperfections of human facial features and motion can finally be grabbed and those pesky eye movements can finally be nailed down.

“Ninety per cent of the work is convincing people that the eyes are real,” Mike Starkenburg, chief operating officer of Image Metrics, said when talking with Times Online. Previous motion capture techniques couldn’t get this but Image Metric’s stuff analyses facial movements at the level of individual pixels in a video, meaning that the subtlest variations can be tracked and mapped into the animation.

Don’t think we’ll see this any time soon in our standard gaming lives? You’re probably right, but processors are out there that can render this information in real-time and that means that we’ll eventually see more and more Emilys in gaming as time progresses. I personally feel that Emily is about to reach the top of the valley but isn’t quite there yet. There some creepy little things that you can pick up every so often that just make her look odd. I think it might be the lips…