Breaking Past the Uncanny Valley

The company who produce the animation for Grand Theft Auto, Image Metrics, claim to have create photo-realistic animations that break through the ‘uncanny valley‘ barrier. The Times is a believer, giving us a sample video and stating that IM’s lifelike animation heralds a new era for computer games.

“Ninety per cent of the work is convincing people that the eyes are real, […] 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.”

Previous methods for animating faces have involved putting dots on a face and observing the way the dots move, but Image Metrics analyses facial movements at the level of individual pixels in a video, meaning that the subtlest variations – such as the way the skin creases around the eyes, can be tracked.