First Research on the ‘Uncanny Valley’

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.

Masahiro Mori’s ‘Uncanny Valley’. Image from wikimedia.org, used under creative commons license

Link to the Wikipedia page on The Uncanny Valley, with a much better explanation than mine! I’ve also linked some articles and studies on my Diigo page.

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.

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5 thoughts on “First Research on the ‘Uncanny Valley’

  1. I will probably coming to you guys to pick your brains, my research is some how linked to yours, ‘Is Stereoscopic 3D the future of film making?’.

    • There may be some overlap, especially in the articles we are both looking at. I was interested by some of the comments at the bottom of this article you linked http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/01/post_4.html that say 3D films are something your eyes and brain can adjust to over time, David and I were wondering whether the Uncanny Valley effect is something people can ‘get used to’ if they spend enough time looking at it and working with it.

  2. Pingback: Some quick Thoughts and Upcoming Projects « Internet Culture and Audio Attempts

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