Virtual Celebrities

Dateline: 10/13/99

The biggest mainstream use of 3D these days is probably Virtual Jay Leno. (Not counting those cool 3D maps of hurricanes of course.) Virtual Jay can be seen on the web also at the MSNBC site and was created by the folks at Pulse Entertainment.

Hollywood has experimented with a number of different "virtual" celebrities over the years. One of the most impressive examples was a recreated virtual Marlene Dietrich, displayed at Siggraph 99. The technology to accurately recreate subtle facial nuances is just beginning to capture the minute details necessary for a convincing recreation. Hollywood films recreated Susan Day in "The Looker" a 1981 film written and directed by Michael Crichton, an early example of personality recreation. Full blown "synthespians" a term coined by computer graphics pioneer Jeff Klieser are still not quite there.

A ground breaking virtual character example is the case of Lara Croft. LaraCroft, start of the Tomb Raider series of computer games has made the leap out of the game world to become a "personality" and virtual spokesmodel. Lara Croft is a television personality, not bad for a bunch-o-pixels! This was no doubt part of the inspiration for the creation of the virtual models being pursued by illusion2K, and their WebbieTookay.

The final progression from avatars or ccelebrities to avatars as ccelebrities for you to become an avatar. For those of you dreaming of your own virtual venues, track down the folks at AvatarMe. They can zap you straight into cyberspace. Personally I'm waiting for the option that let's me dial my avatar weight about 20 pounds lighter.

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