Why video game eyes are creepy


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/10/why-video-game-eyes-are-creepy.html


#2

My boss has those eyes, very disturbing & unnerving. I have proof he is in league with the undead too.


#3

I thought his clothes were creepier. Totally unrumpled, and not in the freshly-ironed kind of way.


#4

Eyes are the window to the soul.


#5

This is known as sub-surface scattering, and why ears appear to ‘glow’ slightly when backlit.
It’s only in extreme close-ups that this becomes noticeable though. The main problem with the eyes in the image is that they have no ‘white-spot’ reflection, easily solved by simply adding a white dot to the texture image.
Instant transformation.


#6

I feel like rendering detail is a red herring, and the whole problem has everything to do with focus. Eyes that don’t track constantly and move appropriately come off as strange, whereas ones that do (or seem to) look alive. I don’t think we observe the level of fine detail that this article implies. If you compare the PS2 game Metal Gear Solid 3 with a carefully rendered modern model that stares blankly forward, you’ll find Metal Gear characters look 1000% more alive.


#7

That’s just because the dot feels like a stand-in pupil indicating where he’s looking. It’s the blankness of the stare, not the rendering fidelity that’s at issue.


#8

Not at all. The white dot represents light reflection, not a stand-in pupil. Whichever direction the character looks, the dot will remain in the same place, because it’s essentially a reflection on a sphere.[quote=“Foggen, post:6, topic:87128”]
If you compare the PS2 game Metal Gear Solid 3 with a carefully rendered modern model that stares blankly forward, you’ll find Metal Gear characters look 1000% more alive.
[/quote]
Take a look at some of the carefully rendered models from the ZBrush gallery and I think you’ll find that’s not the case.


#9


#10

The models in that gallery whose eyes look good are all looking somewhere, so that’s consistent with my point. Also, while blank staring is a problem in static shots, the real problem is a matter of animation. Obviously better facial muscles around the eyes help, but the direction of the eyes is of prime importance. Looking implies attention, and attention implies life. A character that’s not looking at anything feels empty.


#11

Not sure I quite follow you. Are you saying that when people look at the camera they look less lifelike than when they’re looking at something else? A blank stare has to do with a lot more than the eyes. It’s a whole facial-expression thing.
Animation is neither here nor there. A character who looks quite realistic can invoke the uncanny valley simply through bad animation, and vice versa.
The point of the article was that the eyes were not realistic because of a lack of sub-surface scattering, whereas it’s the lack of a reflection that’s the prime culprit here.


#12

Also, from a painting class I took years ago, that little pink bit at the inner corner of the eye. I saw the instructor add a daub of pink to several portraits that looked creepy, deadishly wrong, and it worked instant wonders.


#13

You just made me wonder what that bit’s called. So I looked it up.

Apparently it’s thought to be a remnant from when we had an inner horizontally-blinking eyelid.


#14

I wonder if it could be motion? Real peoples’ eyes are constantly moving.


#15

Humans are hard-wired to read expressions & a great deal of expression involves the eyes. We’re thus hypersensitive to ALL the various details mentioned previously. It’s part of the reason that the same level of CGI that fails abysmally for human figures can be completely effective for non-human characters.


#16

Faces are hard. One of LA Noire’s most hyped feature was how much mocap was done on faces. Of course the downside to this was you had incredibly detailed faces and everything else felt like cardboard cutouts.

What a great game.


#17

Now that would look creepy.


#18

Cats still have them. Nictitating membranes. I guess it’s a holdover from when cats used to be desert animals. Great way not to lose water and keep dust out of your eye is to have transparent eyelids.


#19

Mine often don’t move. Believe it or not I have had people attack me over my lack of fidgety movement.


#20

Oh yeah, I’ve seen those on birds, reptiles, and amphibians, but they don’t seem to be visible when cats blink. I guess their timing is different.