May 10, 2003
NYTimes Matrix coverage

The piece "Bullet Time Again: The Wachowskis Reload" expresses the same sentiments about The Matrix I did (only lengthier and with interviews) - and has the same concerns about the realness of the action. They are appeased by John Gaeta in an interview - but I still think what I thought after trailer review. The pure CGI effects just aren't there yet.

It is interesting how very good we are at spotting flaws like this in an image. Reaction time studies have revealed that we spend more processing time on analyzing artifacts - i.e. things we have created - than we do on living things. There are a number of plausible reasons for this (living things have relatively few but well known 'basic shapes' for instance - and artifacts are also analyzed for 'usability'), but at least the extra processing time is used for some kind of better analysis. As is the case with faces, we might just have a particularly good ability to analyze images of particularly 'human' objects, i.e. objects that we experience a lot, and where minute differences between similar objects make a difference.
In contrast, alien objects are given a more superficial analysis and accepted more easily as real as a consequence. So the phaser pistols in a Star Wars setting are easier to come to terms with than an unrealistically draped piece of clothing on Neo's back in a fight scene.
Alternatively, the mental mode of watching Star Wars could be completely different than the mental mode of watching actual photography. Watching Star Wars we are not really suspended into a reality, but clearly watching a 'picture' of that reality. Watching actual photography we are more able to suspend our knowledge of representation and accept what we see as actual reality.

Posted by Claus at May 10, 2003 12:30 PM
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