There. Got your attention.
The problem revealed by The Spirits Within and The Polar Express; that synthetic actors look like freshly dug corpses dragged about on invisible meat hooks – this is not going to hold Hollywood back for too many more years.
Please view this pictorial comparison. One of these is DAZ3D’s latest ‘unimesh’, Victoria 4.2. The other is a bag full of Botox called Nichole Kidman.
In case you’re not sure, the one on the left is the download. Neither of these ladies can act, but the download is free, can be any age, skin colour, body weight or whatever you need. Instantly. Doesn’t date junkies, whine for millions or run to the tabloids. Clothing is about 12 bucks a dress.
Being a unimesh she can also be male if required.
Now we’ve been promised this future almost as many times as flying cars, but it has tenacity, great tenacity, getting more urgent as Hollywood struggles to find a foothold. They are in the same boat as recording artists and that boat is The Titanic. They are going to build a bridge over Uncanny Valley and it will be a 8 lane highway. Yes, they had to retreat back to toys and ants and jungle animals, but it was a strategic retreat and the counter attack is not far off.
This is the problem: recording is no longer tenable. Performance is safe, plot, cinematography, soundtrack – all of that is still needed, but the idea that you have only one recording of an artistic performance is not long for this world. Musicians can’t sell albums, Hollywood can’t sell films – we have lost respect for them because we think (perhaps foolishly) we can do them ourselves and we want to at very least ‘mash up’ our own take on our entertainment.
The recording is only as old as the phonograph and the cinematographe. They are technologies that have had a good run, but like the panorama and the zoopraxiscope they can’t last for ever. And this is not simple ‘modernist’ progress but a cycle backwards to find a fresh way forward.
We will have a format where there’s potential for different outcomes, paths, unexpected twists. Sometimes you have one leading lady, next time it could be two men. Set the action in Rome or on Mars it doesn’t matter to the arc of the story. Who would you trust to hold this together? Who could be the one to ride this cacophony? Not the film director with their ‘auteur vision’ and their careful tip toeing over the bad angles. No, you need a Theatre Director. Someone that can fly seat of their pants night after night without the trick of edits and takes. The new media (hooray it’s back!) will be a study of Brecht, not Eisenstein.
This is how it will be. The stage is where the entertainment will be delivered, given the current trade shows, most likely a 3D screen of some sort. On your console will be found the synthespians Victoria 7 and Michael 8 or whatever the model is that year. We have props, clothing, scenery and so on. We buy the latest romance written by our Theatre team – not a time line but via motivations, obstacles, Jungian archetypes, all the ingredients. Our artist has devised a situation and it’s open to us to place it on Mars or Rome as we wish.
Michael loves Vikki. Vikki wants to be an explorer – ‘wait for me’. But Stephanie is in the wings with designs on Michael. We’d prefer that Stephanie was Stephen – no problem, the faces and gestures are simply called up from a bank. The end is very sad. We tweak the motivations so that Vikki finds true love, and one of the viewers saves that version as her favourite. Everybody gets a boon – directors still direct, costumers design clothing that will be scanned and sold, musicians learn to use event driven composition tools. Even the actors will find fame as the greatest face or body movement to sweep over the consoles. Every viewer can play with the variables and hope one day to be a published creator. Jobs and dreams are restored.
The underlying technologies are already in place, but we lack a sufficient interface to direct them. For example MPEG-7 is an existing scheme for describing media such that it can be resynthesised, but it is so cryptic that it’s had very minor traction in the arts – especially compared to MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 which we all know as ‘.mp3’. That thing that killed the music industry.
My future research would seem to be building an interface so that a director (or conductor) can use MPEG-7 to create with existing video and sound assets. For example direct a stored video rainstorm to clear up over a time set by a live performance. The interface is the missing element. To make a comparison – you could write directly in Portable Document Format – but it’s easier and more artistic to use Indesign.
The transition between real and virtual becomes easier. At my workplace they have a print shop, you can get your posters and books made there. They now have a 3D scanner, which can copy a small object, about the size of a figurine. And a 3D printer, which can make a real plastic copy of your 3D art. We hope to soon have a suit that records body motions, at which time we can have directors choreograph action for storage. Now that an art college can afford these things – a personal device is not too far off.
I’ve cheated by calling this a game, it’s not, but using motivations and problems to direct the action is closer to game design and I firmly believe that the future ‘film director’ must study both stage plays and computer games to be aligned with future trends in entertainment. Musicians must learn on FMOD as much as Cubase. Video should be seen projected on walls and 3D designers aligned with set builders. In effect we arrive exactly back at the same point as the last scribble – why disdain the game? Media Art is not going to follow the same worn tracks of the last half century.
It is going to melt, and that melt is going to be called Music.