The Uncanny Valley


Have you ever been disturbed by a style of animation?

I remember thinking there was something a bit unsettling about the characters in the Polar Express.  At the time I didn’t know it was such a universal phenomena and even had a name.  Apparently, Tom Hanks was the conductor of the creepy train headed straight into the pit of the Uncanny Valley.  [the place this omen baby lives]  A hellish slope dotted with humanoid robots, all the way down to the creepiest of zombies.

“Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori stated in 1970 that the more human a robot acted or looked, the more endearing it would be to a human being. For example, most lovable Robot Buddies look humanoid, but keep quirky and artistically mechanical affectations. However, at some point, the likeness would seem too strong, and it would just come across as a very strange human being. At this point, the acceptance drops suddenly, changing to a powerful negative reaction.”  Television Tropes and Idioms

What is the uncanny valley?

“The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as a function of a robot’s human likeness.” Wikipedia

Uncanny Valley graph

Film and game makers & the uncanny valley

Sumatran Tiger

ART, Digital Art, Video

Tigers, leopards or regular kitty cats

I love all kinds of cats. I was very sad to hear that Sumatran tigers, like many other animals, are currently considered “critically” endangered. Sumatran tigers are found on the Indonesian island of  Sumatra. According to a tiger census report, their population has been cut in half over the last 25 years. The site Tigers in Crisis has information on many kinds of tigers.  In a post about the Sumatran tiger they say:

“It is estimated that only between 500-600 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, and the actual number may be as low as 400. And their population is dwindling rapidly.”

” around 100 live in an unprotected area, that will most likely be lost to agriculture in the near future.”

Due to agricultural growth, the forest habitats of these animals has been reduced leaving the majority of the remaining tigers to live in National Parks and Game Reserves. Illegal poaching further threatens those few still living in the unprotected areas.

Here is my latest painting, a Sumatran Tiger. You can see the speed paint video below.

sumatran tiger digital art