Al Pacino vs. 1's and 0's

According to this page, director Andrew Niccol is planning to use a digital actress in a live-action movie with Al Pacino.

Does anyone know if this for real? I know CG technology has come far, but I’m thinking a CG actor playing a major role in a serious movie would stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m trying to remember other instances of CG actors having major roles in films, but Jar Jar is the only one that comes to mind. Is Andrew Niccol out of his mind, or do we already have the CG technology to make a convincing real-life CG actor?

I figured someone would do it soon, but this soon is kind of surprising. With enough computer power it is certainly possible, but the surprising part is that it is worth the effort of getting a real actress. Three dimentional scanners can give you the basic dimensions real easyily. With high enough density of sensors on a real person you could get fairly accurate movement. People’s movement is almost entirely based on their straight bones in their skeletal structure, so it is easy for a computer to figure out where everything is with a few reading, then a little surface texuring to take care of muscle flexing and breating expansion. With minute enough detail you could certainly get an indistinguishable human face also.
The part that I’m wondering about is the leagl aspect. With 6 billion people on the earth, whatever they make is bound to look like somebody, and could that person then sue for using their likeness. If I make a CGI Pamela Anderson look alike to put in my movie, what are her rights and so forth.

I don’t know about realistic but are there enough massively parallel Crays in the world to make a CG character that can overact sufficiently to match Mr. Pacino.

I have yet to see a convincing computer generated human character. Of course, this movie may have the first, but I seriously doubt it. I know actors in action movies are pretty much reduced to talking to a blue screen, but in a romance? I would be interested in seeing Al Pacino declaring his love and embracing thin air.

I don’t know. On the one hand, James Cameron has indefinately posponed his **Avitar **movie because he couldn’t get convincing CGI people. But on the other hand Jar Jar Binks physically interacted with people in a few occasions so if you could get a convincing person, then it might be feasable. However, it would cost less, far, far less to hire someone to play the role. I wonder if the producer and studio won’t balk at spending $50 million on an unproven (at least as far as humans go) technology.

Jar Jar’s movements were jarringly CGI, though. That’s why I always thought the Toystory idea was such a brilliant initial foray into this field: I think the audience psychologically accepts the not-quite-human movement as an artifact of the characters’ little-wooden-boyness.

Insects (Antz, Bug’s Life) were the next logical step because with their exoskeleton they resemble the popular conception of a robot, and once again you have psychological cover for the slight remaining stiffness in their action.

I think were a ways away–from what I’ve seen, at any rate–from an organically convincing soft human CGI character.

Be interesting to see what they accomplish with this project, if they go through with it. Then Marilyn Monroe and James Dean can finish out their careers!


. . . Andrew Niccol directed The Truman Show, so who’s to know how reliable their information is?

Bzzt. Andrew Niccol wrote The Truman Show. Peter Weir was the director. Niccol did (write and) direct the equally good Gattaca.

I agree that this is not the most reliable source. Has anyone seen this story written up elsewhere?

The same story is briefly mentioned at

Hope that worked. Probably not.

The absence of details suggests urban legend. I can’t find any other specific reference to either Niccol or Pacino being involved in a project called “Simone.”

The nature of the story is also pretty goofy. I could believe Niccol trying a “digital actress” just because it’s a cool idea and would be a neat thing to do for a movie. I cannot believe he’d do it because he couldn’t find an actress he liked; I somehow cannot believe a successful director with studio backing could not find a single acceptable human actress. I also don’t buy the SAG’s alleged quote; I can’t find any statement on their WWW site or even the name of the guy who allegedly gave the quote.

Note also that neither version of the story states what studio is producing the film.

Um, Montfort? That’s, like, what I was saying: I said the source was unreliable because it said Niccol directed The Truman Show.

I don’t know how feasible this actually is, but is it possible that (whatever studio) is hoping to rake in ticket sales, just by virtue of being the first to do this? I remember that Toy Story was heavily hyped as being the first all-CG feature-length film, and it probably would have done OK even had it completely sucked (which, fortunately, it didn’t).

Also, is it possible that this character is not going to be precisely human? Maybe she’s an angel, or some such, and has to look shimmery and ethereal. In the Muppets version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Past was done in this way, and looked very convincing as a ghost, despite being completely unconvincing as a human. I can picture a romance movie made with a similar female lead.

Nice research, RickJay! I couldn’t find any mention of the film on IMDB or Ain’t it Cool. As far as I’m concerned, if a film is not mentioned on either of those two sites, it doesn’t exist in any shape or form :slight_smile:

IMHO, realistic CG actors that can interact with real ones are at least 5 years away. It will not be cheap or efficient to use them for at least another 12-15 years. After that, the sky is the limit. When Pierce Brosnan gets too old to play James Bond, they will simply replace him with…Sean Connery 2.0, and will save a lot of loot on stuntmen to boot.

“Holy shit, Sean just got killed in that car crash!”
“OK, I guess we have to reboot him”

IDIOTIC!!! I suspect this is some kind of lame studio attempt to get a buzz going

I was with a bunch of other computer animators at the “Shallow”…er, “Hollow Man” preview talking about this, and the general consensus (even among Industrial Light and Magic folk) is that genuine Physical/CGI interaction is better than ten years away. Computers today just don’t have the speed and processing power needed to accurately and convincingly calculate a convincing human. Sure, ILM has a fancy CGI “woman applying make-up” film showing at E3 and SIGGRAF, but it’s a glory piece. The labor involved with that would be impractical on a feature-film scale.

If anything they’ll just paint some poor actress in a MOCAP suit green, make her wrestle around with Pachino, then desperatly try to get usable results from a Nurb or Spline model.


After all the computer modeling, texturing, the MOCAP clean-up, the compositing and the rendering it will produce really lame results and cost only twenty times as much as using a real actress.

Anybody seen Space Cowboys yet?

They use CG doubles of the guys for the ‘in space’ shots most of the time. Although they look real enough, you will notice that they seem to move funny at times, as if too fast or too smooth.

As for other CG actors (That interact w/ actors & that haven’t been mentioned):

Nasty Robber Baron guy in The Haunting
T-1000 in Terminator 2 & the ride movie
Stained Glass Knight in that Sherlock Holmes movie