Are Movie Stars Soon Going To Be An Endangered Species?

Scott P. Davis
Obviously, it is far easier to create an inanimate object that achieves a realistic visual image in CG, than an organic, living object. This is because organic objects move, change color, and have almost an infinite diversity of textures. Creating a human face that is challenging, but not impossible. A very good job is done by Luiz Amaral and his team for TV Globo in Brazil. They created a human character that is very photorealistic. The character is female and does the job of a news anchor on television. They actually ran the spot called Eva Byte for some time. Although this is experimental, the implications of this are astounding.

Imagine a new film in 2010 starring John Wayne. Sounds crazy? Many people in the CG industry have talked about doing this. It is more likely, you will see Charlie Chaplin in CG first, but there will definitely be the ability to create this illusion for most audiences in the very near future. Many in the industry would even say it could be done now, given enough budget. This is really bad news for the members of the screen actors guild. Actors and actresses are not all million dollar earners. The vast majority, make very low wages and work very hard. However, it could feasibly be cost effective to implement technology and do away with many of these personnel. This would be even more imperitive and desperate with actors and actresses being paid tens of millions of dollars for a few months work. This just has the tendancy to eat up the producers profits very rapidly.

Would an actor or actresses screen popularity make them immune to this situation? Or, would they succumb to their own popularity? How many more box office blunders will be made that lose money when an actor or actors are walking away with millions? Why not just build a Steve McQueen CG character and make the film around him? I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that, many of us would love to see a new film with John Wayne, Steve McQueen, or even a younger version of an existing actor. When is it cost-effective to bring in CG and tell the actor goodbye? When that "cost-effective day" comes, you can say goodbye to most of the actors and actresses. If the movie going public accepts this, and CG substitution ends up being a bargain to the producers, then movie stars will become as endangered as the eight track.

This has already happened, to a large percentage of the stunt people and the VFX coordinators. Now, many of those effects are carried out on a computer screen. This makes it more cost-effective to actually "do" the effects, and it makes the movies much more realistic and exciting. I think the movie actors better practice their voice over work. It may be all they have left soon.

Scott Davis [email protected] Scott Davis is the VP of sales and Marketing of FerReel Animation Labs, Inc. He also teaches and runs a very popular art website, He works with some of the most talented and noteworthy digital artists in the world. He has a degree from the California State University of San Bernardino and has done extensive post graduate work at the University of Redlands in CA and at the University of San Diego.