Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Opposable 'thumbs up' for ape animation

Anne Eisenberg writes in the New York Times about movie animation:

The chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans that star in the hit film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” are all computer animations. But they look a lot like the real thing, even to a primatologist.

“It’s astonishing how far the technology has come,” said Frans de Waal, a professor of primate behavior at Emory University in Atlanta and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory.

“We have the illusion we are looking at chimpanzees,” Dr. De Waal said of the computer-generated figures. “They are remarkably convincing.”

Producing computer-animated chimps that people will accept as realistic is a signal accomplishment, said Chris Bregler, an associate professor of computer science at New York University.

“It’s easier to fool us when you animate a dragon or another mythical or fairy tale creature,” Dr. Bregler said of characters created in earlier movies using the technology, called performance capture. “But humans or their closest relatives, chimps — that’s more difficult to do. Our human eyes are finely tuned to detecting problems with those depictions, and the illusion breaks down.”

Read the whole article in the New York Times.

A wild view of 'Planet of the Apes'
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