Emily Wants to be a Real Girl

August 20, 2008

And she almost is. The guys that did the animation for GTA are pushing digital animation to a new, less cop-killing level with Emily.  She's a damn-near photorealistic creation that, they say, heralds a new era in film and gaming in which the lines between reality and unreality will be blurred.  Sound confusing? Hit the jump for the eerie, eerie details.

The technology is based on dozens and dozens of tiny calculations based on the human face.  The detail* they go into is staggering.  These calculations are possible because of a new chip, the Radeon HD 4870 X2, which can compute 2.4 teraflops per second.  Numbers are boring, though, what about the art of it?  Timesonline reports:

"Ninety per cent of the work is convincing people that the eyes are real," Mike Starkenburg, chief operating officer of Image Metrics, said.

"The subtlety of the timing of eye movements is a big one. People also have a natural asymmetry - for instance, in the muscles in the side of their face. Those types of imperfections aren't that significant but they are what makes people look real."  

The article goes on to say that practical applications of this technology to games and movies are a ways off (they estimate 2020), so don't get too excited for a real-live robotic Lara Croft just yet.  Until then, though, here's Emily: 

[video]3022335 [/video]

*Call me conservative, but putting an actor inside a giant metallic orb and firing 3,000 lights at him sounds needlessly more complicated than pointing one movie camera at him.  It also sounds less creepy.  Like, way less creepy.