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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:20am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:31am

    Why not?

    Soon we will be watching movies without real actors or voices. Not sure I am a fan of that, but it might get to the point where it will be hard to tell onscreen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:32am

    I'm having a "Max Headroom" flashback. The supposedly-CG DJ who talked in fists and bursts turned out to be actor Matt Frewer. I was so disappointed! Now we've got it in reverse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:44am

    Who cares why they did it. The point is that they were able to do it, and make use of it. Now leave it to someone else to figure out the best use of it. This will come after numerous false starts and bad ideas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Nate, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:44am

    Wikipedia and The Guardian report the group as having only 58 members (including the fake one).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:48am

    Can Halle Barry trademark her nose? Angelina Jolie her lips? Jim Carrey his smile? This could get seriously complicated...and lucrative for lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    darryl, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:52am

    God this is so old i was in fucking diapers when i first heard about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    You sure have matured a lot since June 19, 2011 kid you are going places I can see that.

    I wish my children had learned to speak as fast as you, not sure about the foul mouth though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:08am

    Re:

    WE have tghe technology, we can rebuild him!

    ...but why should we? It cost us quadrillions just to make him smile.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    Look, none of us is interested in your inability to perform basic bodily functions in the appropriate place on your own. I'm happy that you have recently overcome that problem (you're never to old to learn), but this is really not the place to discuss it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:24am

    Re: Why not?

    soon? what? we've had virtual actors in movies for years man. and guess what, you couldn't tell the difference.

    one thing we do still need tho, is voice talent. so far cg voice is terrible. it always sounds like it has no soul.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:30am

    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...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Re:

    "God this is so old i was in fucking diapers when i first heard about it."

    Apparently that is important to you,
    but for others - it depends.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    Anyone else...

    ...Reminded of the 80's movie, Weird Science?

    It's alive! ALIVE!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    jenningsthecat (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:08am

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Liz, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:13am

    Re: Oh great...

    So long as the world is united peacefully by the power of love songs, I'm OK with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Greg G (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re: There's no such thing as bad publicity

    or **AA exec's and the politicians they pay off....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    [quote]God this is so old i was in fucking diapers when i first heard about it.[/quote]

    And you are? 15?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    A.R.M. (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Oh great...

    It makes killing right, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    These big groups grow and shrink constantly. Who knows!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    charliebrown (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    "Since they're already using all the other girls, why create an additional mashup?"

    Because they can do it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    DS, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re:

    I think you missed a key term, he was in "fucking" diapers. You know, the ones that he wears on the weekend for his "I'm a baby, but I like to fuck" fetish.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:09am

    One thing I haven't see n in regards to this digital personage, is a comparison the the movie "S1mone"

    That was a movie about a digital actress who took the world by storm and resulted in the mental breakdown of both her creator and the director who controlled her.

    Good movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 9:24am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    taoareyou (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Well, this sort of thing, if it could be done without all the hours of imaging, could be used to hide one's identity in all sorts of video offerings. Read that as 'security,' if you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Gill Bates, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Who are you going to believe..

    me or that lying video?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:16am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    its japan... if you are asking why, you are approaching the subject from the wrong angle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    taoareyou (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:15pm

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:02pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    taoareyou (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 12:29am

    Re:

    Ever read about Gibson's Idoru?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Extra!

    Man Discovers Loyal Friend on Internet is not Dog

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Jul 3rd, 2011 @ 2:17pm

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


    It's Japan, home of all those "by our powers combined!" hero groups whose big powered armor suits can join into a really humongous powered armor menace to fight the worst bad guys. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    benecere (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 2:44am

    Video is no longer available

    Due to numerous copyright notifications. I suppose there's nothing I can say that everyone isn't already thinking, huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This