Movie and graphics nerds have heard the phrase “uncanny valley” for some years now. It refers to the super-realistic, yet not quite perfect renderings of humans in movies and games. It has plagued many high-budget blockbusters, like ‘Polar Express’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ by presenting characters that look just off enough to be creepy.
Now, in 2012, we are starting to see the beginning of a new era of hyper-realistic renderings, ones that truly could be mistaken for images of real people. This marks the beginning of the “canny valley”, and whatever it might bring with it. Recent films like Tintin took scene realism and lighting to a new level, but this clip by Jorge Jimenez and his team is a new level of real, and it’s meant for videogame action.
Take a look at this video in fullscreen HD, and try not to be impressed. The skin detail (including imperfections) nearly makes you wonder if they cheated and just used a real guy. They didn’t. It’s called Separable Subsurface Scattering, and it looks like the future of graphics.