The Creepy Express
Hollywood is aware of the potential for the near human to alienate audiences. After working as a lead animator on The Polar Express, a movie criticized for its characters’ high creep quotient, Kenn McDonald and his colleagues at Sony Pictures Imageworks watched the film about five times and, in subsequent projects, decided to animate the rapid, small eye movements called saccades. “If you get the eyes right, everything else is icing on the cake,” McDonald says. Without invoking roboticist Masahiro Mori’s uncanny valley specifically when designing characters, Pixar Animation Studios does not stray far from Mori’s advice. “If your goal is to create realistic humans,” says Pixar production designer Ralph Eggleston, “you run the risk of the audience being distracted when things aren’t just right, instead of having people pay attention to the story.”
Note: This article was originally published with the title, "Into the Uncanny Valley".