Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley has a steep dropThe Uncanny Valley - It is basically a theory that says humans will accept human likeness to a certain level (about 70%) but if the artificial human becomes too human-like without being human (about 80-90%) then we will be uncomfortable with that artificial being.

Why am I referring to this now? Look at the chart to the left. I would postulate that over the past 10 years, video game graphics have went from the 10% likeness scale to the 50% likeness scale. Now 2004-present, we have been wavering in the uneven ground of 50%-90%, in video games and movies.

I would say that when Final Fantasy: Spirits Within was released, that movie unfortunately fell into the Uncanny Valley of CGI. But now video games have finally caught up. Take a look at a build from the upcoming game Crysis (2007).

Hi robots!As far as I know, these are rendered human models that will be placed in the game in a real time environment. Now where do these models lay on the graph? Just to the left of the valley? Just to the right?

That is, assuming the Uncanny Valley is a stable theory, but I do not believe that has yet to be proven.
However, let's look at another screenshot of another game, Half-Life 2: Episode One (2006).

This is Alyx. Dr Kleiner is also hiding in this picture. Can you find him? Once again, assuming the Uncanny valley theory is correct, I think Half-Life clearly sets itself upon the left side of the valley. I would also think most other CGI in these days also set themselves up on the left of the valley.
Remember how scary the Mom and Boy looked in Toy Story? (Uncanny Valley?)
Remember how comfortable it is to watch The Incredibles instead? (Left side of Valley?)
Remember how ugly the Final Fantasy characters seemed even though they were so realistic? (Uncanny Valley?)

I'm just interested to see where video game graphics will go from here. With the technology seeming to range from 60% likeness to 90% likeness, it will be interesting to see where companies put their graphics in the future.

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At 10/31/2007 10:16 PM, Blogger ifedajay said...

Whoa, that is an amazing commentary...
I felt like I was reading this out of a scifi journal.

and btw, i don't like human-like robots!

At 10/31/2007 10:17 PM, Blogger TheJBurger said...

Are you saying you liked it? Do you like picture diagrams? Do they help the post? Did they format your text into unreadable vertical slots? They did to mine.

At 10/31/2007 10:18 PM, Blogger ifedajay said...

yea, actually they did.

I'm saying that u got my attention for the brief minute or so that it took me to read.

I love pictures...this one is a little confusing though...but it's cool.

At 10/31/2007 10:18 PM, Blogger TheJBurger said...

If you click on it, it gets bigger. That is, if it's too small to read.

At 11/11/2007 6:36 PM, Blogger BenjaminN88 said...

I thought the mom and boy in toy story were not scary at all. Weren't they far on the left side of the uncanny valley?

At 11/19/2007 6:37 PM, Blogger TheJBurger said...

Well, that depends. Their facial expressions and actions clearly mimicked human behavior, yet their design and rendering was cartoony which created for an uneven mix up.

Let's just say that you should stick cartoony renders with cartoony animation, and vice versa for realism.


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