Don’t be mistaken, though: This is very far from artificial sentience, Sagar cautions.
“Everything is radically simplified from the real thing, and even how the real thing works is not understood,” he says.
“Our products are not the easiest ones in the world . That’s all gotten worse as Autodesk shifted from selling software that runs forever to selling a subscription service to its customers.
That embracing of flaws may allow digital humans to avoid the “uncanny valley” of creepiness, when a robot looks oh-so-close-to, but not quite, human.
Soul Machines’ imperfect beauty has to be more than skin deep for expressions to be believable, though, with computer modeling of bone structure, muscle twitches, and other subtleties. Since leaving cinema, he’s been trying to recreate the human nervous system in software.
He won two Oscars, in 20, for his work creating lifelike CGI facial animation in films including Jackson’s King Kong and James Cameron’s Avatar.
Among his achievements was codeveloping a system called Light Stage that scans a human face and body in extreme detail, with lighting from multiple angles, in order to create lifelike 3D models.