Last week I was assigned my first project, working together with David Compton who is doing a Masters Degree in Animation, looking at the famous ‘Uncanny Valley’ effect in 3-D animation. Although I can’t do animation to save my life (believe me I’ve tried both 2D and 3D, and the results will never be allowed off my hard drive), I am fascinated by it in all it’s forms and usages so this is a very exciting project.
An explanation of the Uncanny Valley
The ‘Uncanny Valley’ is a theory first proposed by the Japanese Scientist Masahiro Mori in 1970, where he suggested that as an artificial creation based in humans (such as a robot or animation) reaches the point where it can almost mimic human appearance and/or behaviour, people start to react negatively to it. Often people will find the robot/animation creepy or slightly ‘wrong’. The name ‘Uncanny Valley’ comes from the shape of the graph which charts positive/negative reactions.
Since 3D animation is used so widely – think how many TV adverts have animated portions (not to mention fully animated TV shows, films and of course video games) it is really important to consider audience reaction, and to find out what causes the effect. David and I are planning to create some surveys, asking for opinions and ratings of peoples’ reactions on various images of animated faces.