Emily is an animated character, created with a technique that captures the smallest details of facial expression. Each of the dozens of minor movements was given a "control system" by animators at Image Metrics; the system analyses facial movements at the level of individual pixels in a video.
"Ninety per cent of the work is convincing people that the eyes are real," Mike Starkenburg, chief operating officer of Image Metrics, said.
"The subtlety of the timing of eye movements is a big one. People also have a natural asymmetry - for instance, in the muscles in the side of their face. Those types of imperfections aren't that significant but they are what makes people look real."
Take a look at this video of Emily; can you tell that this is not a short film of a real person?
This technique is so realistic; are we close to being able to replace human actors in movies with animated characters? Animations briefly replace real people in movies like Spiderman; the characters are shown at a distance because this degree of lifelike animation has been unavailable.
If it works, this technique could give rise to the synthespian:
"Idoru," Yamazaki said... "'Idol-singer.' She is Rei Toei. She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents, the creation of information-designers. She is akin to what I believe they call a 'synthespian,' in Hollywood."
(Read more about Gibson's synthespian)