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Simone: Mocap Synthespian
Large Image Display: Simone: Mocap Synthespian

This is a single frame from the 2002 Widescreen edition of Simone. Taken from near the middle of the movie, it shows something which throws normal definitions out of the window, whilst at the same time being something extremely likely to actually occur.

Here we see the mocap-controlled avatar persona Simone, controlled as she is by her 'director' Victor Taransky - in fact the direct translated personality and being of Victor Taransky - appearing in the physical world, as she launches her singing career. Done in the movie as part of an attempt to 'deceive the world' that she is human, as opposed to a computer construct.

As mentioned in the movie, it is easier to convince 100,000 people than it is to convince one. Hence the concert. She is still computer generated of course - that never changes. However, using atmospheric projection technology very much like the real Heliodisplay device and its bretheren, plus a great deal of smoke and of course computer-generated images on the bigscreen TVs, it is quite possible to produce a very real impression of a flesh and blood woman standing on the stage.

This image is a close-up from the side, where the smoke is less thick, and the holographic nature of Simone's projection is made apparent. All her bodily movements, gestures, mannerisms, and words are of course provided by Victor, as she to all intents and purposes is Victor.

That said, Victor is not a thespian; he's a director and a manager of acting staff. Simone on the other hand is an actress. So, we are back into synthespian territory again.

A synthespian is basically an artificially created, non-human actor. The word comes from synthetic, meaning not of natural origin, and thespian, meaning dramatic actor.

In this case, the definition is a bit blurry, as Victor is human, but the persona, the body he is using, is entirely not. Further, its not a body which anyone else associates as being him. So to all outside points of view, and even some internal - as Victor himself sees her as a separate individual - she is still a synthetic actress.

Indeed, as several other parts of the film show, whilst Victor determines what she will do, motion translation programs determine how Simone will perform each action, using stored data on other famous actresses to modulate her behavior into a mix of Victor and them.

It is an interesting mix of definitions, and one which as mocap and other embodiment technologies advance, is likely to be if not the first, certainly one of the first means of creating true synthespians.

References

VR Interfaces: The Heliodisplay

Virtual Dictionary: Synthespian

Book Quotes: A Synthespian's AGI


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