The year is 1991. Terminator 2 has hit the screens and the word on everybody’s lips is “morph.” (Yeah, it’s the wrong word to use, but you can’t stop it now.)
Less than two years later the technology is everywhere. I remember seeing a coffee machine morph into a packet of Folger’s Instant Coffee Grit and thinking that the End was near.
Now the year is 1996. Everyone is talking about The Mummy and the impressive sandstorm effects. There’s a face in there, look.
These days we see sandstorm effects in car commercials.
All right. Now it’s today. (Unless you’re reading this tomorrow, in which case, it’s today yesterday.) The combination of motion-capture and animation has brought to life Gollum, a very realistic diminutive CGI figure being controlled largely by the movements of a trained actor. It is now possible, in short (ha!), for an actor to play against his physical type, to bring to life a character on-screen that is nothing like himself.
What is Hollywood going to do with this technology?
I’ll tell you what I’d like to see: a small actor (Dustin Hoffman, for instance) playing a six-foot-tall blonde-haired Viking. A black actor could play a white character. A male actor could possibly play a female character. You know, something that would enable an actor to play completely against type.
Unfortunately, what I think we’ll get is a mo-cap Teddy Ruxpin doing a tap dance while hawking laundry detergent.