Will Digital Actors Replace Human Ones?

“Colleagues have for years claimed that they will. I analyze the problem with everything I know and come to perhaps surprising conclusions. The key conclusion is that the appearance of actors is under (circumscribed) threat, but the acting of actors is secure, I believe, for now. That being said, I present an analysis of just how hard it is to replace even the appearance of actors. I strive mightily to separate religion from science in this presentation. The computation for all predictions is estimated and it is large.”


Dr. Alvy Ray Smith co-founded four centers of computer graphics excellence before joining Microsoft as its first Graphics Fellow: Altamira, Pixar, Lucasfilm, New York Tech. Received two technical Academy Awards for alpha channel concept and for digital paint systems. Invented, directed, originated, or otherwise instrumental in the following developments: first full-color paint program, HSV color model, alpha channel and image sprites, Genesis Demo in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, first Academy-Award winning computer-generated short Tin Toy, first computer-generated film Toy Story, Academy-Award winning Disney animation production system CAPS, and the Visible Human Project. Was a star witness in a trial that successfully invalidated five patents that had been plaguing the digital imaging business; writes and speaks extensively; served on the Microsoft Art Committee; holds a PhD from Stanford University and an honorary doctorate from New Mexico State University, and has recently retired to devote time to the emerging artform of digital photography. See http://alvyray.com for more information.