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Simone (2002) is a film with a very interesting premise: Victor Taransky, a washed-up `art film' producer is weary of trying to work with divas in his films; weary of the attitudes, the sassy remarks, and the ?work round me? world-view. When his latest lead actress walks out before the end of production, he is unable to complete the work, and his investment goes down the toilet. Victor, with his career on the ropes, is contacted by a man offering salvation in the form of the perfect actor - a computer generated woman named S1m0n3.
Simone is a true virtual reality avatar. Victor controls her via his own body and voice ? she repeats his moves, and anything he says into the computer?s microphone is modulated and comes out in her voice. After a little practice, he is ready, and uses Simone's image and voice overlaid on the original actresses footage to complete his film. However, there is a problem: Simone is an overnight success, a cult goddess.
The film goes on to showcase some very deep issues with life as a virtual avatar in a physical world. There are the sceptics, the paper sniffers, and the demands of keeping in the public limelight as a career blooms and flourishes, both in film and in the music business.
At the same time, there is growing tension between Victor and Simone as Victor puts in all the effort, but Simone reaps all the rewards. A strange duality emerges with Victor?s life disintegrating round Simone, as Victor finds himself less happy, more lonely, and less satisfied than he was before Simone.
The first half of the film is basically devoted to scene-setting, and slotting all the pieces into place. Once that is done, things pick up very rapidly, and deep issues whiz by rapidly, interconnecting, solving or exacerbating each other in a manner which really makes you think.
Simone is ahead of its time really as the world of virtual avatars allowing us to live life is not here yet. However, it is a great forerunner for the issues we should think about, and a worthy film in its own right.
Additional Resources:As with any truly notable VR film, we have a number of additional resources, examining the various ways Simone has touched on the deeper aspects of VR and both its social and technological connotations. Each examines a different aspect of the film in some detail.
Warning: These resources often presume you have seen the film, or do not mind significant spoilers.
Lessons from Simone: Avatar Embodiment
Lessons from Simone: MoCap Filter
Large Image: Simone: Split Personage
Large Image: Simone: Mocap Animation Differences
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