Magazine article The Futurist

Film's Immortals: Forever Young and in 3-D: The Technical Achievements of Filmmakers like James Cameron, Director of Avatar, Suggest That Futurists' Predictions Are Close to Coming True

Magazine article The Futurist

Film's Immortals: Forever Young and in 3-D: The Technical Achievements of Filmmakers like James Cameron, Director of Avatar, Suggest That Futurists' Predictions Are Close to Coming True

Article excerpt

More than 20 years ago, THE FUTURIST wrote of the possibility of bringing Humphrey Bogart (and other movie stars) back to cinematic life.

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The item, "Bogey's High-Tech Comeback" (Tomorrow in Brief, March-April 1987), focused on combining computer animation with accelerated image processing. Theoretically, every move that Bogart ever made in the movies, and every syllable he uttered, could be stored and reprocessed into new moves and new dialogue in future movies.

That future is very nearly now.

In a recent Entertainment Weekly story about the technical achievements in Avatar, James Cameron's blockbuster 3-D movie, columnist Benjamin Svetkey commented that the photo-realistic CGI (computer-generated imaging) technology "could easily be used for other, even more mind-blowing purposes--like, say, bringing Humphrey Bogart back to life."

So why is that future not now, but only "nearly" now? Ethics, according to Cameron. While the motion-capture and CGI technology that enabled Cameron to transform live actors like Sigourney Weaver into characters far younger (and weirder), his technology would still require a live actor to recreate Bogart's movements. And since Bogart apparently did not leave permission for the use of his likeness in this way, Cameron suggests that it would be unethical to bring the dead back to life.

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The future that Cameron has given us with Avatar is that of the virtual actor (vactor), described in the May-June 1993 FUTURIST in a story about the VActor Animation Creation System developed by SimGraphics Engineering.

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And of course there's that other future we've been waiting for--a really awesome 3-D movie. Now that high-definition television networks like ESPN and Discovery are launching dedicated 3-D channels, we can say that the 3-D TV "future," too, is finally "now. …

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