AMD crosses the uncanny valley

AMD shows off Cinema 2.0 demo in New York
AMD shows off Cinema 2.0 demo in New York

Ah, the uncanny valley, that slight glitch in a virtual face that stops gamers (and movie-viewers) empathising with in-game characters (and CG actors in movies).

The terminology is derived from 'The Uncanny Valley' ("Bukimi No Tani" in Japanese) a 1970 paper from roboticist Masahiro Mori published in the journal Energy.

Mori's basic hypothesis was that as robots become more humanlike, they appear more familiar until slight and subtle imperfections in their appearance make them seem eerie and unsettling for humans.

Read my lips

It's a term that has been used by games designers in recent years to refer to the lack of empathetic response from gamers generated by realistic human-looking in-game characters with ever-so-minor imperfections (commonly related to glitches in lip-synching, facial movements and so on).

With all this in mind, check out the lady pictured here (with compliments to Joystiq). She is actually a computer-generated (CG) character, used in AMD's latest tech demos of "Cinema 2.0" (which TechRadar told you about last month).

AMD claims that, in addition to the clear advantages their new tech is set to offer games developers, that movie producers will be able to manipulate digital actors in a real-time rendering environment that happens in real-time.

Secret in the camera-globe

An AMD tech demo in New York this week showed that, as Joystiq reports, a very human model. But what's the tech secrets behind this?

According to the reports from that demo, the breakthrough is down to a combination of more processing power combined with "a globe-shaped room that features rapid high-definition photography from all angles."

The report continues: "These cameras can capture surface detail to a level that surpasses human touch," and the information that they capture is then "interpreted into 3D data."

Leading PC codeshops partnering

Games developers from some of the leading PC gaming codeshops, including Splash Damage, Crytek, Rebellion, Remedy, Blizzard were name-dropped in the AMD presentation.

Joystiq concludes that, "this stunning technology does appear to be a revolutionary leap forward in rendering technology."

TechRadar has contacted AMD in the UK today for further information on Cinema 2.0 to find out more on how and when this technology is going to be implemented in mainstream games and movies.

Adam Hartley