George Lucas not digitally reanimating dead movie stars after all

Paul Raven @ 07-12-2010

A brief post at Wired‘s Underwire blog seeks to quash rumours that George Lucas has plans to digitally reanimate the dead movie stars of years gone by for use in his productions. Given that the story started at notorious lie-stuffed UK hate-rag The Daily Mail, you’d think it would have been written off as bunk much earlier…

That said, there is a precedent for the Lucas story lurking in the Futurismic archives – back in January, James Cameron was talking about how CGI can be used to restore the vigour of youth to ageing stars, and pointed out that the same technology could permit Tom Cruise to keep making Impossible Mission sequels long after his eventual death. If that’s not a deeply dystopian misuse of technological progress, I don’t know what is.


Avatar techniques could turn back the clock on ageing actors

Paul Raven @ 18-01-2010

Via SlashDot comes a brief soundbyte (or rather textbyte) from James Cameron, who posits that the pore-deep photorealistic CGI techniques that allowed him to create current box-office smash Avatar could be used to recreate the youthful looks of popular actors who’re getting on a bit…

… Cameron’s facial scanning process is so precise—zeroing in to the very pores of an actor’s skin—that virtually any manipulation is possible. You may not be able to totally replace an actor—“There’s no way to scan what’s underneath the surface to what the actor is feeling,” the director notes—but it is now theoretically possible to extend careers by digitally keeping stars young pretty much forever. “If Tom Cruise left instructions for his estate that it was okay to use his likeness in Mission Impossible movies for the next 500 years, I would say that would be fine,” says Cameron.

More Tom Cruise movies? After he dies? That’s about the strongest justification for banning this technology entirely, if you ask me…

Less fine, at least to Cameron, is bringing long dead stars back to life. “You could put Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in a movie together, but it wouldn’t be them. You’d have to have somebody play them. And that’s where I think you cross an ethical boundary…”

Hmm… so what if you had Monroe and Bogart played by AI simulations of Monroe and Bogart, based on every second of footage available in the digital cultural corpus? Would that be crossing an ethical boundary? Would it be the same boundary as having someone else (made of meat) play them beneath the mask of CGI? And anyway, didn’t they threaten/promise [delete as appropriate] that CGI would mean the death of the overpaid “box office draw” Hollywood superstar? Answers on a postcard, please…

More seriously, though – how do we expect new and exciting actors to rise through the ranks if we just keep recycling the faces of the past? Or will the actors of the past become characters in their own right, adding another sort-of-meta layer to the cinema experience? “[Actor X] is currently wowing cinema-goers with his flawless performance as Clint Eastwood reprising the epochal Dirty Harry role…”


The science fiction art of L E Spry

Paul Raven @ 01-12-2008

It’s not often we feature artwork here at Futurismic, and it often occurs to me that I should look into addressing that oversight.

A recent spur of reminder came while browsing for images on Flickr recently, when I stumbled across the striking CGI images created by one L E Spry. While he’s quite keen on glistening starships and serried ranks of grumpy robots, he also produces images that fit into the near-future remit of Futurismic‘s aesthetic. Behold:

New Heights by L E Spry

Containment Zone by L E Spry

Channel by L E Spry

The uppermost one reminded me almost instantly of the Fastness from Iain M BanksFeersum Endjinn, one of my favourite science fiction novels, but it could just as easily be a conurbation from a much closer future than the one depicted in that book. Some savvy publisher should be dropping Mr Spry a message, I think…

Do you think we should host more artwork here at Futurismic? Are there any waiting-to-be-discovered artists you think we should be checking out?