/ Technology

How ethical is a ‘digital resurrection’?

Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire

The late actor Peter Cushing’s CGI insertion into the latest film in the Star Wars franchise is an impressive technological achievement, but it does raise a number of questions around image rights and ethics.

For those who are unaware, Cushing was well known for his appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin in 1977’s Star Wars, among many other notable roles, including TV’s Sherlock Holmes in the late 1960s.

Thirty-nine years later, his likeness has been digitally inserted into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with another actor providing his voice.

Cushing passed away in 1994 – there’s no way he could have foreseen such advancements in technology allowing a ‘digital resurrection’ to be a possibility. But if he had, would he have approved?

Doubtful Doubtfire

There was one actor, however, who did see this coming.

Before his death in 2014, Robin Williams established a trust, passing on rights to his name, signature, photograph and likeness.

The Guardian describes it as ‘a new form of privacy contract based on the availability of new technologies’.

Williams’ arrangement means we won’t be seeing the much-loved actor digitally inserted into any films or advertisements. No matter how far CGI progresses, there won’t be a Mrs Doubtfire 2! (As a side, I do wonder how much of Williams’ titular character would have been digitally enhanced, rather than relying on make-up, had the film been released in 2016).

Williams was able to base his decision on the modern world he saw advancing around him. But for actors like Cushing, contracts such as this came that little bit too late.

Posthumous appearance

This opens up a debate when it comes to using the likeness of the deceased who didn’t live long enough to get a say.

While many will have the decision made by family, could some film studios be so preoccupied over whether they could, that they aren’t stopping to think if they should? (Thanks to Jurassic Park‘s Dr Ian Malcolm for that one).

Cushing’s posthumous Star Wars appearance also reminded me of a blog I once published titled ‘The Holographic Gigs of the Future’ (I can be a bit of a geek, but stick with me). In that case, I hypothesised that bands from the past could one day be resurrected as super-realistic holograms, playing gigs to an adoring public once again.

Similar tech has already made its debut, such as the Tupac ‘hologram’ at Coachella in 2012.

Is it inconceivable that The Beatles could sell out Wembley Stadium one day in the future? And, if they did, would John Lennon and George Harrison have wanted that to happen?

What do you think about digital resurrections: creepy and disturbing or a testament to the power of technology? And what about all those entertainers, like Cushing, who passed away too soon to have a say?

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
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There seems to be no depth of financial depravity that the 6 media conglomerates who control the western world media will sink to . It is starting to reach the stage when you have to “copyright ” yourself in case somebody pinches “you ” . Robin Williams , although not appearing so was a sensitive soul who was hurt inside with the way this world treated him , he was also intelligent enough to see into the future and know by actual experience what the giant media companies were like . I hope he is now a lot happier than what he appeared to be on this earth. When a certain giant chemical company can sue and get damages for somebody growing inadvertently its products because it has “copyrighted ” them (GMO ) then to rip-off dead people and thereby directly their next of kin is despicable in my book.

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Bishbut says:
29 December 2016

A new thing that will get used and used by those who think it will cause interest in their maybe uninteresting films until they discover something else and then this will become as most things are old hat and forgotten about . Just trying as always to make sensational films so that fools will pay to go and watch

Profile photo of Ian
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I think we need to differentiate between the exceptionally unlikely (holographic bands are possibly centuries in the future) and using likenesses of actors whose living was made by not only allowing but actively encouraging their images to be used. Actors seek publicity and consigning their images to film ensures that they’re seen by millions. Now, how does that differ from releasing recordings of musicians long dead?

Using a deceased actor’s image isn’t going to hurt the actor; they’re long past caring or anything, for that matter. The only people who could be adversely affected might be the actor’s family, so let’s consider that for a moment.

If a film studios uses an actor’s image as part of a current film after the actor’s death in effect they’re using only an image for which the actor was paid, anyway. If they’re not using it in a manner designed to cause outrage or offence, then honestly I don’t see a problem. I can think of many issues far more pressing that worrying about the odd appearance of a dead actor in a current film.

This reminds me of the incredibly self-righteous outbursts from the critics when ‘colorizing’ old B&W films was first possible. From the tone of the comments at that time you’d have thought someone was suggesting a Dachau theme park. Yet the technology exists to colourise (British spelling) films and it works exceptionally well in many cases, such as Wonderful Life (which also contains a lot of dead actors’ images). It wouldn’t work as well on Psycho, of that I’m certain, but it will benefit some films.

Using dead actors’ images isn’t new, either; Heath Ledger was digitally inserted after he died during a Batman film and it’s also very important to remember that film actors whose images are in demand were not a portion of the population that was routinely on the bread line.

I don’t believe there is any ethical issue around digital insertions of an image for which the dead actor has already been paid – and often handsomely. The egregious DMCA has already made it extremely difficult for honest consumers to copy music, DVDs, Blu Rays and other recordings. That’s an area that Which? should be involved in, and not worrying about whether someone who was very well paid for allowing their image to be used at all should have their image re-used. I mean, it’s almost as bad as paying massive bonuses to directors already paid very well simply for doing their job.

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As I see it, the character Grand Moff Tarkin is owned by the Starts Wars franchise, so it’s down to them to decide how they’d like to play that character in any of their future works.

I’ve not seem the film in question, but a “look-alike” could easily have been used for a walk-on-part or another actor could have been chosen to play the role, if any actual acting was required.

I’m also struggling to remember what, if anything, Peter Cushing brought to the original Star Wars film. I know he made a lot of films, including (probably) some great ones. However, I suspect the inclusion of his image in the latest film was essentially done for “heritage” reasons, as a gift for old Star Wars fans.

Many famous parts, not least James Bond and Dr. Who do get regularly recast – often that brings out more from the part than a simple look-a-like could achieve. In fact, Dr. Who was played by Peter Cushing in two movies, but I doubt that anyone will be wanting to bring on a CGI Peter Cushing as the next Dr. Who.

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Peter Cushing along with Christopher Lee WERE the British horror film industry they were in a long line of British horror films that made this genre famous here , sometimes both together . Its the principle I am talking about here , every excuse is made for BB to “get it free ” but when its the other way around -YOU pay . The relatives should be paid a percentage of the takings, isn’t that what capitalism is all about ?

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But that’s exactly what the DMCA has tried to do – or, in some cases, done. And as for this bit about relatives being paid, I’m afraid I don’t agree. The relatives haven’t done the work.

I’m sensitive to this because of sheet music. I need all my sheet music converted to pdfs and the best source for those is IMSLP. As most of my piano work is Baroque, Classical or Romantic it’s all out of copyright. But if I try to get hold of some more recent music (Katchaturian, for instance) then it has to be bought. He died in 1978, for goodness’ sake, so why do we have people still reaping money from his output? He wrote some wonderful stuff, but he wrote it – not his relatives.

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Derek: Grand Moff Tarkin was, I think, the only character that seemed to be able to control Mr Vader. He was done away with quite early in the first film.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Then why, in the US, do big court cases take place continually and unceasingly by relatives of dead film stars and others because the rights were left to them and companies/organizations abuse that . You talk about music , just look at the rights battles on that relating to well known dead pop/rock singers taken out by relatives . What happens in reality , is, if it is free , along comes BB media and buys up the rights and then sells them to the public on a one song /one charge recording basis . Just have a look at the exploitation on the web , if anybody is entitled to do the exploitation it is surely the wife/husband /children of the deceased .

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Providing the artist was adequately compensated for their work while they were alive why should descendants continue to reap the rewards? It’s worth bearing in mind that G & S operettas only emerged from copyright in the early 1980s, yet most were then immediately reprinted in a very marginally different style and the copyright to those copies reinstituted.

I’m not defending exploitation, but more films fail than succeed and jobs are lost all the time. Using a dead actor’s image is only a minor aspect of a production and, providing those film companies have all paid their fair share of tax (which in the UK, is unlikely because of the generous tax breaks extended to film companies) then I really don’t see an issue.

But your argument with business buying up rights is interesting, as copyright legislation is horrendously complex. You point was “ if it is free , along comes BB media and buys up the rights and then sells them to the public on a one song /one charge recording basis “, which seems only to apply to music. No one pays for the rights to record Classical or Romantic music any more, since it’s all out of copyright. But you pay for a recording, since otherwise how would orchestras survive? Not an easy topic.

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I thought the British horror film industry was only famous for being awful. Perhaps I missed its heyday.

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I’m tempted to say “who cares” – because I don’t. Let them squabble over who owns the rights. In the great scheme of things it is well off my list of priorities. I’m quite happy to listen to and watch the works of the departed, but don’t need them to be resurrected. I’m not in favour of cryogenical “preservation” either – there are far too many people in the world already to think of bringing dubious characters back, so lets hope no one is going down that route. 🙂

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Imitation the sincerest form of flattery and for an Actor to be remembered for their talents after their death gives them immortality and as long as the person providing the voice over is recognised for their talents, what is wrong with it, we watch cartoons versions of dead actors and that is acceptable so why does society have to be so politically correct all the time live and let live people in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. We waste to much time and money debating the trivia of life instead of working to improve humanity for the people living now.

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Gerard Phelan says:
29 December 2016

Many people aim to leave something for their children – possibly their home, maybe antiques or their investments. Some people spend their lives creating art in such forms as: paintings, films, music, operas, film scripts and novels. These may have an ongoing value after death. For example people did not stop wanting to listen to Frank Sinatra the day after he died or burn the Mona Lisa when Leonardo da Vinci passed away.

Some arguments here say that because they were well paid (not always true) and are now dead, that these artistic works should immediately pass into public ownership. Why is art singled out for such confiscation on death and not the houses, money and everything else they owned?
Are the proponents of this confiscation followers of the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who declared “Property is Theft” in his 1840 book ‘What is Property’?

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Assuming everyone who has something of value to leave has made a will, it is up to them to legally bequeath it to whoever or wherever they intend it to go, to include rights of ownership of valueable artifacts where relevant. It is then up to the bequeathed to do with it whatever they choose according to their conscience and the relationship they had with the deceased.

I would however draw a line at attempting to resurrect an image of a deceased friend or relative for monetary gain no matter how famous, unless it was specifically and/or legally sanctioned by the deceased.

My recently deceased sister, the youngest member of what would be considered a large family by today’s standards, unbeknown to myself had ordered a copy of a family photograph taken when we were all children to be passed onto each sibling following her passing. However, because she was unborn and therefore missing from the photograph she arranged for an image of herself as a 2/3 year old to be superimposed onto the photograph. making the whole family complete without incurring any monetary gain and leaving something to pass down to future generations.

I do question the psychological need to resurrect a deceased celebrity other than for monetary gain. Resurrection is an inability to accept the inevitability of the end of life as we understand it. Scientists are currently researching into the neurological connection between the brain and consciousness and what happens to consciousness (if anything) after the brain has died. But another topic for another day perhaps?

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And there was I thinking this was just a movie-world gimmick.

Upon my demise I shall be happy for the whole of Hollywood to have complete freedom of access to any image of me at any stage of my life for no pecuniary benefit to my estate whatsoever, but something tells me it won’t happen.

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I think I have just stepped into a nightmarish parallel universe, some sort of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Peter Cushing’s image with another actor’s voice? I’m going to wake up in a moment.

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Behind you….

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Darrin Salt says:
29 December 2016

I know that sometimes the cost of a CGI replacement can be more than paying a (non-“A”-list) star for a small role (no offense intended). It’s not just a matter of pressing a few buttons. One day maybe.

If deceased actors avatars are used to save money, rather than employing new upcoming actors, then I think there is a genuine reason to grumble (and I am talking talent development here, rather than of the deceased’s estate) – but if the reason for use is film continuity or heaven forbid to finish a film when a star has been unexpectedly snatched from us mid-filming, then I do not have a problem. Why waste the effort put into the movie so far and to be honest, what a fitting tribute.

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In a way I am astonished that the dangers of using people past in modern life are not explored. People’s grip on reality is tenuous enough given the media created bubble of what may be true or not.

Personally I think all use of past images being animated for modern minds a major concern. Consider the fun of Churchill voicing Chamberlains speeches. Of alternate histories based entirely on manipulation of images and sounds.

Whilst re-writing history could be fun it is creating lies. Lies can never be encouraged. If someone is dead then they cannot appear in films or news media after the event.

That should be a universal law. It seems bizarre we complain bitterly about political lies and “mis-statements” but apparently will condone people being fooled to believe that some actor agreed to appear in some cheesy second rate advert or film.

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Frankly, I believe that the current era where the media and politicians routinely lie and distort information makes substituting an actor for the sake of artistic continuity pale into insignificance. History is being re-written all the time, Patrick; a few moved images won’t change that, and there’s also the matter of what constitutes ‘truth’ in any historical context. Look at eye witness reports of any major event to see just how unreliable supposedly ‘objective’ accounts can be. And I’m talking about current affairs. Historical accounts become largely guesswork and partially informed speculation.

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I hope most of us are smart enough to distinguish cheesy second rate adverts and films from other media that purport to represent reality or recent history.

On that basis, there is a whole world of difference between the digital resurrection of Grand Moff Tarkin, in obvious service of the cash cow that is Star Wars, and a digital resurrection of Peter Cushing.

Quite often, well meaning historical accounts already mess with actual historical records, and the film industry is notorious for discarding historic facts, if they get in the way of a good story.

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Patrick – I think if we take this too seriously we run the risk of becoming the ghost of Christmas past.

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“I hope most of us are smart enough to distinguish cheesy second rate adverts and films from other media that purport to represent reality or recent history.”

Well one would hope that you are right – but you are talking of an older and better educated readership here. The depths of ignorance for a proportion of the population, as evidenced by surveys in the US and UK, should not be forgotten.

Humans are fairly primitive animals and fact and fiction should be separated as far as possible for the benefit of all society not reliant on a few educated people who are aware of the manipulation.

Ian comments on history being constantly rewritten as though this is a justification for more wholesale re-writing. Having roughly a thousand plus books dealing with historical evens I am conscious that views differ but a general consensus is generally available.

Do I trust the mass-media, advertisers and politicians to be as thoughtful as a historian writing to be accepted into print and subject to review. Not likely.

Readers must also bear in mind that the use of social media is already awash with bots , commercial and political, who can chip and manipulate the apparent feelings of “the majority”.

This is but the thin edge of a wedge. If I see Audrey Hepburn or somebody in a film or advert I wish to believe they chose to be included. Arguing they were paid decades ago and therefore their image is fair game for anyone to use is I think fundamentally flawed.

If I were to manipulate an image of Lord Young, a founder of Which?, to be seen criticising the current pay and pursuits of what is essentially a charity would that be ethical? Can I have an avatar with his likeness and use his name on Conversations? We all know he is deceased.

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Yes Ian and the US has brought out legislation to censor “fake news ” which, in reality reports the truth , as opposed to the fake news given out officially by governments and the media. Its so blatant its embarrassing that an intelligent country like Britain could not only accept it but publicize it as the truth while those in power know the truth full well . Completely patronizing .

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Patrick, stop putting words into my mouth 🙂 You’re inferring things which are not being implied in any way. The general consensus of which you speak is often influenced by all types of trends and socio-economic factors, and I suspect that merely reincarnating the odd dead actor will have at most a marginal effect. And why on earth would you wish to believe that a dead individual reincarnated would have wanted to take part in what they were depicted doing? You are aware that taking that stance effectively rules out all historical films and reconstructions?

But it worries me when you say this: The depths of ignorance for a proportion of the population, as evidenced by surveys in the US and UK, should not be forgotten. The ignorance of the population is almost certainly less now than at any time in history. And what you consider ‘ignorance’ may be perceived by others as being adequately informed. That’s a patronising view of the population and it’s totally unsupported by any meaningful measures or surveys.

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Duncan, the US has not brought out legislation to censor “fake news ” which, in reality reports the truth , as opposed to the fake news given out officially by governments. Actually, that’s a splendid example of Fake News in itself. Another way of putting it is lies, pure and simple.

Now, legislation exists to deal with lies where they can be shown to impact the reputation of a person. But as for falsely reporting events – which happened a lot in the egregious Trump election – there’s still no way of dealing with that, other than printing the truth, and many don’t want to hear the truth, because it’s uncomfortable or – as research has shown – people don’t like facts when it conflicts with what they want to believe.

In other words the great mass of people is susceptible to advertising as opposed to factual information. And there are limited ways to combat that.

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Your right Ian people don’t like the REAL facts but are being brainwashed by intense concentrated 24/7 propagandist lies , If you want to believe what comes out of Clinton/Obama fair enough , but I know different . Its all down to money +power and a unipolar world. Thank goodness at least a large amount of the US public can now see through them , in this country people are more inclined to accept authority and believe what they say–regardless.

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Duncan: now you’re starting down the same road as Patrick. I did not say I want to believe what comes out of Clinton/Obama but several years in Universities and researching have, I hope, taught me how to discover the truth, or as near as we can often hope to get. I am, by nature, a sceptic; I suspect research turns you into that, and I take what I hear and see with significant quantities of salt until I can discover the facts. That means reading ‘around’ the subject and looking at a lot of sources – not simply the odd publication, often from the US, which purports to be ‘telling the real truth’.

And, fortunately, I have friends, similarly engaged, and whom I trust to be as impartial as possible .

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The “odd publication ” Ian ? aimed at someone who has spent years getting at the truth on many western hated websites , who has been attacked on his computer many times because of it ,who has spent years running through documents that are never mentioned in the media in this country , who has posted on many international news websites , talked to 100,s of intelligent people including professors , who has a whole stack of downloaded and transfered to paper, in case of attack, actual proof from the mouths of officials in the USA and elsewhere , I couldn’t possibly post it as the rhetoric coming out of our government would make me an object of attack . Somebody is already trying to interfere with my system as we speak . If , I was allowed “free rein ” then I could post it but not in this political climate . All the same , have you heard of John Pilger -would you say he is a liar ? just read- provoking nuclear war by media on his website , if you dont believe him I have many other quotes/articles from US senators/ military/ ex. US government officials, as you probably wont believe the British versions.

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Hello, while a healthy debate requires disagreement, and of course it’s fine to disagree, please make sure that comments remain friendly. Thanks 🙂

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Duncan: I’ve said there is something in what you say, but much of it is simple make belief. There are still – apparently – thousands of Americans who believe the moon landings were faked, and even more who believe the9/11 attacks were the work of the CIA. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to matter how much evidence there is saying the contrary, they’re somehow obsessed with paranoid delusions of one variety or another.

As an example, you say your system is ‘being interfered with as I speak’. Think about the logic in this situation. On the one hand you argue that forces of darkness are powerful and draconian; on the other, however, they apparently can’t stop you telling the world that you’ve immense amounts of downloaded data in case of attack. I don’t think you can actually have it both ways.

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“Forces of Darkness are powerful and draconian ” Ian i think we will just leave it there.

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Ian- Donald Trump- twin towers brought down by bombs – no 1 “conspiracy theorist” ? . Architects+ Engineers (Professional ) for 9/11 truth (website ) -2200 signed so far , all “conspiracy theorists” no doubt . I should have kept the email from a US professor who gave me all the insight to the engineering aspects of the building and —lost his job for propounding it to his University class . steel structure built round elevators in central part of building to allow more open office space , first buildings in world history built to this standard to fall beautifully vertically even with a jet lodged in their side , I wont go on as it is “conspiracy theory” –of coarse . Ron Brookman.SE. structural engineer – Richard Gage .Architect.AIA

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The flawed structure of the twin towers has been revealed to the world in excruciating detail, Duncan, so I’d venture to guess that wasn’t why he lost his job, And if he had tenure, even more so.

But there is absolutely no evidence regarding the bomb and other theories advanced. And I watched the actual aircraft fly into the tower live, so I’m afraid I suspect I know what happened from first hand experience.

We’re genetically wired to want to believe in the forces of light and dark, of course; that’s why so many are religious and it appears to be at root a survival instinct. But I prefer evidence and not wild theories which, when tracked down, strangely lack substance. Otherwise, we might just as well blame it on ghosts.

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Why do you label 2,200 professional Architects and Engineers who provide professional evidence to the effect that the twin towers didn’t collapse because a plane hit them but that they were undermined by bombs as “conspiracy theories ” a term started decades ago by the CIA to combat any change from the US governments position that it is “telling the truth ” . Religion , what has that to do with it ? , plucking at straws there /wild theories etc , but keep on putting forward the US government line of the Clinton,s wont be long before the “Donald ” gets in – January 20 th I believe and Obommer doing his best to undermine and “stick it ” to him . I see TM has changed her tune unlike the Scottish FM whose policies I dont agree with but at least she sticks to the Clinton line.

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Perhaps this conspiracy theory would make a good film. I would have thought that unless these 2200 Architects and Engineers were present in the towers and witnessed the bombs they might not be the most reliable of witnesses? However, it seems to me that if bombs were placed the US would be just as keen to track down the perpetrators, so why keep it a secret? And were the plane strikes pure coincidence?

This seems to have strayed well away from digital resurrection.

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Quite. Believe in fantasies if you wish, Duncan. I prefer hard evidence. Religion is crucial to those who believe in fantasy and the un-provable. Not a single aspect of religion can be proved, yet it has billions of adherents worldwide – while conspiracists number merely in the thousands. I’m not commenting on religion, but I am saying that if there was a single scrap of real evidence regarding the twin towers’ conspiracy theories it would have been well documented. Not one thing I’ve read contitues evidence.

And anyway I thought you were ‘going to leave it there’ around four posts ago 🙂

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I am no adherent to religion Ian as most of the bible is just propaganda so that one group/country of people can control you , but I do believe in a “Higher Being ” , I take it when you die -thats it –zero- blackness – no more “you ” and then we are no higher in reality than a one celled creature that splits into 2 cells to reproduce because thats what you mean isn’t it ? just an organism that is here to continue the species . Malcolm instead of investigating the evidence all the metal fragments were gathered up and sold to China , completely illegal in American Law (removing evidence from the scene of a crime ) . The one thing in my life is that any thoughts of fantasy were quickly dispelled from a toddler onwards as the harsh reality of being very poor caused me much suffering affecting both my body and mind , my mind in particular was forced to live in the real world , I am very down to earth , so I am not affected by any countries propaganda and lies including our own only the TRUTH .

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Duncan, I haven’t said one word about what I believe, and won’t. But we should try to stay factual in here, and not propagate conspiracy theories. I can assure you that the forensics carried out on the WTC and the other sites were pretty well exhaustive by any standards.

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I agree with Ian.

I have read a lot about the aftermath of the Twin Towers catastrophe. Once impacted by an aeroplane each tower effectively shook itself to destruction. Critically, the impact blasted the fire insulation off the structural steelwork which made it vulnerable. The explosion of aviation spirit and subsequent fires accelerated the internal demolition of the structure and its contents, and was the primary cause of death of occupants. The collapse was progressive and, given that it started from an upper level, the devastation was immense, rapid and widespread also bringing other buildings in the complex down. I did not read about any bomb blast or about any traces of explosives and I don’t think there were any claims of bombing at the time. Such an occurrence would have manifested itself in adjacent buildings since the twin towers were located in a densely developed area and any evidence would have remained long after clearance of the site.

For practical reasons for rescuing any survivors and identifying the dead, the virtually pulverised material of the World Trade Center had to be removed and it was taken to a large warehouse on the quayside in New York Harbor where it was sifted under forensic examination conditions. Eventually it was released for disposal in accordance with normal procedures. Many deficiencies in safety arrangements and building standards were identified but in fact the main structures of the Twin Towers stood up surprisingly well to a catastrophic impact and it was the fires that led to the total destruction and collapse due to the detachment of the fire-proof insulation.

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Hi all, this is not the place to discuss such subjects. This conversation is about using computer generated graphics to reproduce the likeness of those who have passed.

As regular community members I look to you to demonstrate the community guidelines and help keep discussions on topic. I know it can be a challenge, and I also know that many discussions are fluid and open up other questions. However, I am sure it’s very clear to you why the above discussion is not relevant to this conversation. Such off-topic discussions can be confusing to new visitors and pushes them away from making their own contribution to the discussion.

Please try and avoid the temptation and report comments you feel are going far off-topic.

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Just as an eye-opener on ethics I have much disgust for this, a report about as paper I thought of some quality:

” But none of that actually happened. Those claims are made up.

Despite how much online attention it received, Jacobs’s Guardian article contained no original reporting. Indeed, it did nothing but purport to summarize the work of an actually diligent journalist: Stefania Maurizi of the Italian daily la Repubblica, who traveled to London and conducted the interview with Assange. Maurizi’s interview was conducted in English, and la Repubblica published the transcript online. Jacobs’s “work” consisted of nothing other than purporting to re-write the parts of that interview he wanted to highlight, so that he and The Guardian could receive the traffic for her work.

Ever since the Guardian article was published and went viral, Maurizi has repeatedly objected to the false claims being made about what Assange said in their interview. But while Western journalists keep re-tweeting and sharing The Guardian’s second-hand summary of this interview, they completely ignore Maurizi’s protests — for reasons that are both noxious and revealing.”

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/29/the-guardians-summary-of-julian-assanges-interview-went-viral-and-was-completely-false/

I will be complaining bitterly and reconsidering paying for such shoddy work.

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The problem now PT is that there is a massive worldwide campaign going on to “condition ” the western world population into believing lies and calling them “the truth ” many intellectuals throughout the world resent this but if they open their mouths they are “Putin sympathizers ” its just the same as all our human rights are removed in the name of “terrorists ” , its extreme propaganda that Goebbels would be very proud of and anybody disagreeing will get “visited ” by our very own “Gestapo ” usually done via the web ,at first. Whenever I brought this up in the past I was heavily condemned , I realise this isn’t the place to talk about it , but its so extreme now even ex US government officials are saying -enough already, like FBI/CIA /etc but it isn’t reported on British media. Dont worry I wont go further I know the rules.

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Patrick: you really should do your homework before posting something like this. How on earth do you think that simply reprinting what one media outlet says (“theintercept”) about another, and competitor, agency (The Guardian) is in any way, shape of form meaningful? And you’ve failed to read the Guardian article in full, since that not only attributes all quotes to the Stefania Maurizi article but has also printed and made amendments to the original article and printed the reasons for that.

All media outlets make mistakes, but not all are as prominent in their acceptance of those errors and print amendments. Both Guardian and Observer newspapers are owned and operated by trusts and are free from the interference and tinkering that individual owners inflict on most of the news media. But it’s nice to know that you enjoy reading all about goodness and fairness from the person who made billions out of creating ebay.

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Duncan: I don’t actually accept that there’s a massive worldwide campaign going on to “condition ” the western world population into believing lies and calling them “the truth ” but I do agree with your points regarding basic liberty.

While your concern that this is beyond the remit of this topic is noted, I suspect that in fact it’s very much on topic. This topic, whether George realised it or not, is about truth and belief. It’s about being able to trust in what we see and hear so, in my view, anyway, that opens the door to discussing any and all actions which seek to suppress, distort or infringe on that position.

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Although I understand that this may have opened a can of worms, this conversation cannot be about a full discussion about the nature of truth and lies. We should try our best to stick to talking about the use of computer generated graphics in visual media, whether misleading or otherwise. Discussions around that are of course in touching distance and can be explored, but for the benefit of others joining this conversation, let’s try and get back to where we started. Thanks.

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With respect, Patrick, I believe George opened the door to precisely such a discussion when he said

“it does raise a number of questions around image rights and ethics:”

in the header. What else constitutes ‘Ethics” if it’s not about truth and lies?

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Hi Ian, that’s fair and I won’t be removing any of the above comments, but it would be good to get back to the main thrust of the conversation while still flirting with any related areas.

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It seems some Convos somehow lead to an excuse to “discuss” how degenerate those who “run” the “west” have become and how the rest if us are stupidly led by the nose. Perhaps Which? could devote a Convo specifically on this issue, and leave other Convos to deal with the topic that was introduced (with the usual entertaining diversions of course!). 🙂

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Interesting, though; in a sense this topic is questioning the entire basis of reality. As Patrick’s pointed out films and TV series are potent forms of communication and seem to convince a lot of folk, who appear to have problems differentiating between fiction and reality. I remember some years ago that one research sample of Granada viewers suggested that up to 12% of those who watched Coronation Street believed it to be real, while the stories of actors who play villains in the soaps being attacked in public are not uncommon.

I really suspect this topic goes a lot deeper than merely wondering if it’s a nice thing to do. And, while I might have appeared to disagree with them, some very salient points have been made. I don’t subscribe to world-wide conspiracies, partly because I suspect the people most likely to be operating them are hardly bright enough to keep them secret, and because massive secrets – those that involve many operatives – tend not to remain secrets for very long, especially since the WWW allows anyone with a partial set of digits and decent eyesight to post them on-line.

There’s a lot of work been done on sub-textual messaging within films. It already happens on US TV imports and is growing on our own shows: product placement is the culprit and we’ve developed a game (at home) of spotting how many times we can identify computers and OSes on shows. But obviously historical ‘Docudramas’ are being made, and they’re very different beasts. Of course it can be argued that simply ‘tweaking’ history isn’t really that important, but is that true?

In a sense, this takes us full circle, because we have to ask not only if advertising works (everyone in here is convinced it doesn’t on them) but what constitutes advertising. The BBC’s charter requires it to “be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output, the times and manner in which this is supplied, and in the management of its affairs”, but the big question when technology is involved is how to define ‘independent’.

So I think this topic has opened up the biggest can of worms in the Conversations realm, and I sincerely apologise to anyone who felt my posts were too strong, but it’s something about which I personally feel very deeply. This is something we should be debating, something which affects every one of us and something which has – quite possibly – never been more relevant.

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In my experience, most of the errors in history documentaries and docu-dramas are due to “c**k-up not conspiracy”. In other words, poorly researched materials end up containing technical errors, that appropriate experts might have corrected, if only they had been consulted. [And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one PC-spotting when I see films and TV shows.]

From first hand experience, I do also know how easily news media can fabricate great sounding but incorrect stories from quite fragmentary snippets of apparent evidence. Given the need to sell newspapers, truth is often the first casualty of journalism.

As regards cinema, really great cinema can transport you to another time and place. I’ve often experience a degree of amazement on leaving the auditorium, on the discovery of my return to the ordinary world around me.

As a long term user and creator of computer models and simulations, I am conditioned to treat all computer output as “false” (i.e. incorrect) unless proof to the contrary can be supplied. I suspect I naturally apply this level of scepticism to any data that reaches me via a computer screen, irrespective of the source.

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Back on Topic… and thanks to the contributions above. I find the difference not at all clear cut, between introducing actors’ images after death to a new experience, and merely re-playing an “original” film after death.

I see above the arguments over image rights, over legacy / ‘immortality’, over ethics. But let’s for example say I’ve never seen “Its a Wonderful Life”. Is my watching Jimmy Stewart’s image in 2016 for the first time, greatly different to someone introducing that image to the film for me to watch after he died?

I was fortunate enough to see him live playing in the stage version of ‘Harvey’ : is continuing to watch his image on the film version many years after his death ‘creepy’ or unethical? I’m not ( yet ) convinced there is a great deal of difference, but am open to being persuaded.

I think the argument about stifling new talent ( or at least, restricting its opportunities) by re-use of previous players, is a more valid route to take.

As for holographic band reproduction (and I don’t believe it is ‘centuries away’) I’m less concerned – the counter position is that the ‘same’ technology has made it easier for ‘self publishing’ by up and coming, new, original artists through a plethora of channels that simply were’t available to my generation. ‘Making it’ is now less about luck – being in the right place at the right time or dare one say it, sleeping your way to the top, – talent and audience response has a greater say than ever.
And again, is watching a holograph (or VR, AR) really any different to old footage of a concert?

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I meant to say ‘decades away’, in fact, but whatever it’s a very long way off in terms of current technology. Shame. though, because it’s a technology I’ve been hoping to see for years.

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I have no problem with what happens in films. Ever since someone decided to add sound effects when someone was punched, films have become divorced from reality. TV is hugely influential and I think we need clear borders to prevent misuse of technology for purposes other than entertainment.

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Its already too late to stop political use of films the US has been doing it since the 40,s -non-stop , Wavechange.

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Films are a lost cause. It is interesting some people delight in spotting mistakes in films. Maybe we could recruit them to help shame advertisers into being honest and maybe wean them into offering constructive criticism in many of the more challenging issues we discuss here.

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If you see an advertisement that is not legal, decent, honest or truthful then make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority – https://www.asa.org.uk/Consumers/How-to-complain.aspx.

Their stated role is “As the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media, our work includes acting on complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing.”

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I think films with a political message go right back to the development of popular cinema in the early years of the twentieth century, especially in Europe and the USSR.

What is strange about extraneous sound effects in films is that they are often more prominent in the trailers than in the full screened versions. Sometimes, while waiting for the auditorium to clear from a prior screening, we have sat in the foyer and watched the trailers for the upcoming feature films and they have a lot more thuds and whooshes than the picture shown on release. Presumably this is to whet the appetite of those who need aural stimulus to appreciate a gentle romantic drama.

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I confess to being an anachronism geek. I have contributed numerous goofs to IMDB [the International Movie Data Base] and I don’t even watch that many films each year. I don’t believe many of the people making films actually live in the real world.

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Lord of the Rings was created using almost all dubbed sound. Their location was too noisy to permit live sound recording.

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There is a fine line between the level of creativity and crossing over into the world of fantasy John, but the world would be impoverished without the creators of music, poetry artistry and plays.

Sadly many of them (and I emphasise not all) suffer as a result of their talent behind the scenes, some actually crossing over into mental illness, according to the state of the delicately balanced chemical neurotransmitters in each individual’s brain. Some will use props such as alcohol or soft drugs to help them cope with the reality of life outside the movie scenes they partake in, which can, in turn, lead to addiction, creating problems not only for themselves and their families but everyone else who comes into contact with them. It’s a very lucrative but often traumatic and sad profession to be part of.

Successful actors and film makers after all spend the best part of their lives in other characters shoes, which is a form of escapism from their true selves, sometimes to the detriment of their real lives, and they can get paid an enormous amount for doing so.

It’s a precarious way to earn a living both when work is available and when it is not, but suffice to say they can still provide an enormous amount of pleasure to each and everyone’s lives.

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I wasn’t suggesting otherwise Beryl and I agree with you on the value of culture. I just get a tiny bit annoyed when, despite the millions poured into making a film, simple and basic errors appear which I am afraid I have put down to ignorance, although I remain open to more cerebral explanations. My observation from watching some film-making is that directors can become very arrogant, bordering on the dictatorial.

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John says:
2 January 2017

Which, Please don’t use abbreviations (CGI) without using the full version first, so the uninitiated know the meaning. It’s bad grammar and bad form!

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The reality behind the make believe is, a British actor, Guy Henry actually played the part of Tarkin on set, then the VFX team took over to transform him into Peter Cushing. You could argue that Guy Henry, although no doubt was paid handsomely for the deception, received no credit for his acting ability, which begs the question, was the money he earned more important to him than his accreditation as an actor?

To view the full report log onto: hollywoodreporter.com – ‘Rogue One’ – How Visual Effects Made the Return of Some Iconic ‘Star Wars’ Characters Possible.

It’s encouraging to learn that prominent and well known actors are now taking the necessary legal steps to prevent the replication of this innovative but controversial technological development currently taking place within the film industry, on the event of their own deaths.

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In fact, Beryl, Harkin is fully credited as an actor in the film both in the the credits and on IMDB. So he was both paid and credited. And he didn’t even have to show his face 🙂

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Maybe it was preferable the actor stayed incognito in this instance, if you are referring to the fictional character Harken 🙂

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Yikes! Momentary brain lapse between Harkin and Henry (why did they both have to start with an H???). Please read the above post substituting ‘Henry” for “Harkin”.

This was a public service announcement on behalf of the terminally confused…

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As long as you are not confused what sex you are Ian , one cause of a momentary loss of memory is blamed by doctors on the menopause.

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Now you have me totally confused as well Ian 🙂

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Me too… Must be something I ate 🙂

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Would just like to say a quick thank you to everyone for the comments and debate this has generated – great to see the topic (and a few other topics 😉 ) prove so popular. It’s been really interesting reading the community’s views on this.

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A somewhat predictable development, but interesting nonetheless :

‘Lucasfilm is supposedly securing the rights for a CG Carrie Fisher’

http://www.avclub.com/article/its-rumor-time-lucasfilm-supposedly-securing-right-248379