Leaping The Uncanny Valley: Japanese Pop Star Turns Out To Be A Computer Generated Mashup

from the remix? dept

A few folks sent over versions of this story, about how the popular 61-member (!) Japanese girl music group AKB48 introduced its newest member, named Aimi Eguchi, in a candy commercial, which you can see below:

However, after some people started questioning all of this, it was revealed that “Aimi” wasn’t a real person at all, but was a computer-generated image, made up of a composite of all of the other girls’ “perfect” features. A separate video showed which parts of Aimi came from which other girls in the group. It gets interesting and/or creepy about halfway through, when the video directly highlights which feature from which girl was put into Aimi (though, oddly, the one who supplies the “eyebrows” seems to have her eyebrows covered by her bangs in the video):

I’m kind of wondering what the value is here — other than generating publicity for the bizarreness of it. Since they’re already using all the other girls, why create an additional mashup?

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Comments on “Leaping The Uncanny Valley: Japanese Pop Star Turns Out To Be A Computer Generated Mashup”

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41 Comments
Nicedoggy says:

You are talking about Japan a place where some people marry their virtual lovers.

I can see lonely people carrying a pad with a pattern that tells the camera were to place the virtual avatar, so they can take pictures with them or when it is less the 150 gigabytes in size people could pay a buck or two to take a photo with their idols.

Or play games with augmented reality characthers.

But in this case one can see the possibilities, an idol that never dies, never gets angry at fans, never gets old and lives forever, no PR nightmares and maybe most important no one to pay.

Danny (user link) says:

Oh great...

Have those folks learn nothing from anime? Based on the Sharon Apple model at some point one of these AI singers is going develop its own free will and cause a lot of problems, and more than likely kill a few people.

For all that is holy please tell me that there isn’t some company in Japan working on an unmaned fighter jet…

jenningsthecat (profile) says:

There's no such thing as bad publicity

“Since they’re already using all the other girls, why create an additional mashup?”

Because it’s gotten them a lot of attention, and because it’s memorable. And who knows – this may be the opening move in a CwF gambit! Fans could request custom mashups of their favourite band members, or mashups between fans and band members, or band members and politicians, or band members and Sony executives – the possibilities are endless!

Prisoner 201 says:

Kawaii desu!

I think it’s awesome. Today, digital tools are cheap enough that one can create marketable music in one’s home (basshunter etc). Tomorrow, you can direct your own movies!

Think of all the stories that, today, will never be told because to do so requires thousands or (more often) millions of dollars.

It will be a wild, diverse explosion just like the digital music scene. End result: more culture for everyone.

Unless the MAFIAA ruin the party for everyone.

A.R.M. (profile) says:

An answer to a question.

“Since they’re already using all the other girls, why create an additional mashup?”
It’s called a figure, and Orchid Seed probably already has a license to this “mash up” so they can throw “her” into panties and sell them for $120 each.

Oh, and the panties will be removable.

This way, none of the girls will be offended when they see the product on shelves across Japan.

AKB48. Legal in Japan. Gets you arrested crossing into Canada.

DogBreath says:

Re: movie "S1mone"

I can say this much. That movie is a small view into the future. I suspect that CGI generated actors will become the ultimate in “Property”. The movie companies will love and embrace this idea because with no individual rights for computer generated actors (No actors, no Actors Guild union), the big studios will be able to keep all those up front costs of paying big name actors millions upon millions to be in their films (even on very successful movies that “never make money” according to their accounting practices).

The days of the live actor/actress may be coming to an end, especially once they figure out a computer generated way to get rid of those pesky voice actors.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: movie "S1mone"

“The companies will still have to pay the puppeteers behind the digital actors. Their expressions, timing, inflections will still have to be programmed. Having a digital actor does not mean you have an AI capable of acting.”

This all may be true (for the present time), but the money paid to a puppeteer will be astronomically less than any big named “Hollywood” actor.

taoareyou (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 movie "S1mone"

Really? How do you come to this conclusion?

I am reminded of the movie “Being John Malkovich”. The puppets are what people watched, but the puppeteer was the famous one and was the one who got paid, quite well.

If actors are replaced by digital puppets, people will still recognize the skill behind them as it becomes apparent that some digital “actors” perform better than others.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:3 movie "S1mone"

Really? How do you come to this conclusion?

Being skilled as a digital puppeteer doesn’t mean your going to get Johnny Depp’s or Angelina Jolie’s paycheck. It will never happen and the movie studios will see to that. If you don’t agree on their price to be a digital puppet in their movie, they’ll just get someone else. After all, by then they won’t be needing your name or your face to bring money into the box office.

taoareyou (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 movie "S1mone"

Sure they can hire some no name, no skill puppeteer, just like a director can hire some no name actor. But what digital puppets will people flock to see? The one with the famous puppeteer. And the famous puppeteer will cost more than the ones with less skill.

It doesn’t matter what you put in front of the screen. There will be some human element behind it some of those will be more skilled than others and become more known.

Digital actors are just extensions of the humans that control them. People will be fans of the puppeteers, not the puppets.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re: movie "S1mone"

For now, but most probably they will start building a database of expressions that can be reused.

Also the people behind it can be easily changed.

On the bright side any actor that reaches fame can today be forever young on the big screen, how much celebrity artists will pay for having a digital version of theirs that they can put on screen?

Tron was the first film I saw CGI for this but it was not that good you could tell something was not right, but japanese one, oh that one is almost perfect it fooled a lot of people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Research has shown that the critical characteristics of beauty are “average” features. Not average as in your plain everyday girl, but average as in a statistical average of features, in other words a kind of mashup. What they are doing here is not quite that as each feature is not a morphed average but they did choose each “perfect” from one of the existing girls. So, they are approaching the goal of morphed average perfection in beauty. Isn’t the mashup creation the prettiest of the girls?

Ed C. says:

Re: Re:

Not really, at least not by my standards. There’s a number of girls that I thought were cuter or hotter than the virtual one.

I’d have to admit though that she was really good. I’m usually good at spotting digital fakery, but I couldn’t tell right off which one she was from the short time each was on the screen in the first video. It’s not until I get a better look in the second video that I could spot the “glitch”, her eyelids hardly animated at all. They just blinked a few times. That’s quite odd, considering that I find that Japanese animators are usually better at animating eyes than most!

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