Plug-and-Play Talent

So in this post we discussed a 100% synthetic Japanese Pop Star. Go read Silver’s comment in that post for a really in-depth post on who/what Hatsune Miku is, but from what I gather its a CG animation with a really impressive voice synthesizer, plus electronic and physical music as we know it.

No matter what, there IS no Hatsune Miku outside of her performances and CDs, she’s a creation, a digital performer who exists just to actualize the concepts of others.

This got me thinking about the film S1m0ne, a fantastic film where Al Pachino plays a director so fed up with neurotic stars that he creates a digital star, and is overwhelmed by her success.

Can you imagine a world of digital performers? On one part is seems a cold and inhuman world, but on another part it strikes me as heaven.

As a film buff I need to hold my nose when watching excellent performances by people like George Clooney, Sarah Polly, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, amoung many others, because while I respect their ability as an actor, their politics suck. Can you imagine a world where George Clooney gives an expert performance, then is unplugged and boxed in a warehouse? You wouldn’t have to worry about Robert Downey’s next fall off the wagon, because he’d only do drugs on camera in character.

Of course we’d still have the little moral tug-of-war I have when it comes to films by Roman Polanski, as there will always need to be minds behind the performances, and even if the Directors are cut out, writers like Stephen King put out great product but horrible politics.

It just adds a different angle to how we think about the performing art. What do you think?

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0 Responses to Plug-and-Play Talent

  1. Bubblehead Les says:

    Sure that’s not already happened with our current President? Many times I wonder how he just doesn’t get it. But if he’s just a hologram….

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Sadly he’s flesh and blood, so he can shake hands and bow to diplomats. But his prosthetic attachment to the teleprompter does show he’s more of a puppet/figurehead than an actual leader.

  2. Not really a CGI animation with a great voice synthesizer. Whether Hatsune Miku or the other Vocaloids are CGI animated or not depends strictly on who makes the videos (videos can just be a still with the music playing the background, a collection of pictures in time to the music, actual 2D animation, or 3D animation). The Vocaloids are sold strictly as voice synthesizing programs, and the only thing you have to go by in terms of appearance is the box art.

    I think this video (have closed captioning on; the subtitles are wonky but get the point across) can explain the Hatsune Miku/Vocaloid phenomenon waaaay better than I can. 🙂

  3. Will Brown says:

    Old idea actually (the actors as CGI images). There was a novel I read back in the late ’70’s (early ’80’s?) that used this as a plot device. Basicly, the (by then long deceased) human actors estates didn’t have legal control of their on-screen image. Unscrupulous studios made “new” productions using computer generated images (and that’s pretty much the extent at a “technical description” of the process used, as I recall), with Spencer Tracy and Errol Flynn and the (still not yet dead at the time) Kathryn Hepburn and John Wayne were all mentioned as examples.

    As best I can remember, the point was that the economics of “live” performers didn’t really exist; the direct cost of production was the same using using the historically established model of individual talent or an artificial image computer overlaided onto that of a “performance mime” I think the term of art used was (a living actor making an effectively annonymous performance for the computer to overlay onto). The expense of the non-performing activities of human actors (the example was drug and sex related, but the one you mention above would equally apply, I submit) was both the difference between the two business models and the metric that made the actors on-screen performance most personally identifiable with for the viewing (ie: paying) audience.

    The above was all secondary to the story (which was a future themed political thriller basically) that was relevant to the “performance” of human vs computer generated political campaign personalities (apparently, the permanent bureauacracy was the “real” government with elected politicians being yet one more aspect of government for them to manage – I don’t recall clearly, it wasn’t that good a story frankly, the CGI actors using dead actors images stuck with me though).

    Leaving aside the Jesse Ventura program content aspect, I do wonder to what extent the complete artificiality of such performances as those by Hatsume Miku and whatever competitors eventually emerge will be judged once the “Gee Whiz” factor fades. To the extent any video image can be said to be “real”, how well will Hatsume Miku compare to ____________ (insert your favorite female performer here) at her best, say? Will audiences consider them distinct performance model catagories (as the book I read seemed to suggest) that cannot be legitimately compared? This is already an accepted standard in sports fandom, so I don’t think it unreasonable to extend it to other classes of entertainment performance. Can politics be all that far from there? If Nancy Pelosi’s video image looked more like Nancy Sinatra, would her political detractors have had quite as much electoral effect (to the extent they prove to have had any, come the 112th Congress)?

      • Will Brown says:

        No, actually; I didn’t know anybody had been silly enough to actually try it. Audience cognitive dissonance should have been merely the first vociferous objection raised in response to the concept pitch. As can be readily seen though, the technology isn’t that challenging and given the visual effect achieved with the LOTR film’s Gollum character I expect someone will make another effort before too long. Possibly something Shakespearean with the CGI image of Kenneth Brannagh playing a variety of differently aged roles apparently simultaneously. Opposite Helen Mirren perhaps, and there’s the entire cast (along with the hopefully well paid efforts of the actual – if confusedly credited – actors making it all possible, of course).

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