Sunday, 29 November 2009

Voyage to the Uncanny Valley

Captain's log, Stardate November 29th 2009...

It was an ordinary day on the bridge of the USS Furious when I got a call from Starfleet's Chief of Exposition, Admiral Tellitall.

"How can I save the Movie Galaxy today?" I asked the Admiral as I stroked my manly chin in a way that made me seem both intellectually curious, yet didn't detract from my ruggedly handsome good looks.

"This is a very important mission," replied Admiral Tellitall, "the sort of mission that only a dashingly handsome adventurer like you can pull off."

"Oh please," I said in all humility, as I scoped out my own reflection on the monitor, "you're giving me a big ego."

"I'll cut to the chase Captain Furious," said Admiral Tellitall, "one of Hollywood's top directors has lost his mind."

"That's not exactly uncommon," I replied.

"Except this director seems completely disconnected from common sense," added Tellitall.

"That too is pretty common."

"He's wasting hundreds of millions of dollars!"

"Still pretty ho-hum."

"Listen Furious," snapped Tellitall, "just get to the planet Animatia, find Robert Zemeckis and..."

"Terminate with extreme prejiduce?" I asked.

"No," answered Tellitall, "just slap some sense into him. He's barricaded himself somewhere in the jungles of Animatia, and he's saying that he should get an Oscar category for Motion Capture movies."

"That's one way to get an Oscar without making another Forrest Gump," I said.

"Just beam down and find him."

"Will do sir."


Animatia lay in the heart of the Movie Galaxy's Hollywood Federation, but it was still a wild and unruly frontier. Empires rose and fell on a regular basis, and competition was ruthless.

I decided to avoid the perpetual war zone that lay between Disney and Dreamworks, and beamed down in the former Realm of Independent Animated Features. All around me were the remains of the movie
Delgo, reduced to nothing but bones. Something was sniffing around the bones.

"James Cameron?" I asked.

"Nothing to see here," snapped James Cameron, "I didn't rip them off. They ripped me off! Yeah, that's the ticket, it's not like both stories are from the same grab-bag of hackneyed sci-fi/fantasy cliches, we were both completely original works that have nothing in common! I have an Oscar! I have an Oscar!!"

"I don't care about that Cameron," I said, "I need to find Robert Zemeckis."

"Oh," said James Cameron. "He on the fringe of Disney territory, he's gone past Pixar, and into some dangerous territory."

"Where is he?" I demanded. "Or I swear I'm going to tell you what I really think of
Avatar and completely shatter your illusions of genius!"

"All right!" pleaded Cameron. "He's lost deep in the heart of the Uncanny Valley. But you'll need a guide. Go to the mouth of the Valley and ask for a guy named Moe Capp, he'll take you to Zemeckis. He's the only person Zemeckis will deal with now."

"All right," I said, "now scram," wondering I had started talking like my character in my Private Eye parodies.


"Are you Moe Capp?" I asked, keeping my hand hovering above my phaser, not out of fear but simply because this guy looked like he was going to be very annoying.

"I'm the future man," replied the scrawny man with the raggedy beard and stringy hair, "Mo-Cap is the future. Soon man, we're not going to need actors, sets, cameras, or anything man. All we're going to need is a computer full of motions that we captured!"

"I need you to take me to Robert Zemeckis," I commanded.

"He sees the future man," continued Moe Capp, "he know that the revolution will be digitized!"

"Can you take me or not?" I said cramming my phaser into his face.

"All right dude," said Moe Capp. "But when it's gone, he's gone, there's going to be nothing left but motions, and they'll all be captured!"

"Let's go," I said, dragging him out of his hut, and together we plunged into the depths of the Uncanny Valley.


The trip down the river into the Uncanny Valley was pretty uneventful, sure the boat's crew had all been killed, but since they weren't the star, namely me, they really didn't matter.

"Here we are!" hooted Moe Capp as he danced in glee at the prow of the boat.

Before me was a massive temple built in the shape of a hard-drive, but that wasn't what shocked me.

"I see you noticed that it's made out of heads," said Moe Capp, "well he needed those heads man. To capture their motions man."

The temple was made out of head, their faces covered in little tiny dots to measure and record their movements.

"Wait here," I said, setting my phaser to maximum pimp-slap, and stepping off the boat, "I'm going in."


"Who are you?" asked a voice from the shadows.

"I'm Captain Furious of the Federation," I said.

"You're an errand boy," croaked the figure in the shadows, "send by snack bar clerks to butter the popcorn."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Quiet," roared as he stood up in the light and I could see that it was Bob Zemeckis, wearing a tropical print mu-mu and his eyes drunk on the potential of technology. "I have another motion capture movie to make. This time I'm going to do a remake of Singing In The Rain, completely digitally."

"Dude," I said, "I'm here to snap you out of your madness!"

"I'm not mad!" snapped Zemeckis, "I'm ahead of my time!"

"No you're mad," I said, "your movies make less money each time, and get worse reviews each time. You're not improving, and that's a creative dead end."

"It's not a dead end," replied Zemeckis, "I just need finer rendering of the pores in Scrooge's skin."

"It doesn't matter how well rendered they are," I said, "they still look like corpses being pulled around on strings. They don't thrill audiences, they make them think of death."

"Go away!" barked Zemeckis. "I'm taking cinema on the next step in evolution!"

"I'm sorry I have to do this," I said as I aimed my phaser, and hit him with a full power shot. Zemeckis flipped over his throne and fell to the floor with a heavy thud. It was a heavy dose of common sense, but any less wouldn't have had any affect at all.

"Captain to the USS Furious," I said into my communicator, "two to beam up. It's time to leave the Uncanny Valley and return to the real world."


No comments:

Post a Comment