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Scylla Rhiadra

Descent into the Uncanny Valley: Fear and Loathing in the Vanity Threads

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Never had the UV effect with anything in SL. Same with really well drawn animation movies (like final fantasy for example) or realistic looking video games. Even if the graphics are really well done. Maybe because its still 2D the effect does not trigger (for me). Real(ish) looking dolls on the other hand I always find somewhat creepy, probably the UV effect, never gave it a thought why.

 

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3 hours ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Never had the UV effect with anything in SL.

   I briefly forgot which thread this was and got really confused by that abbreviation... UV maps are very important for effecting things in SL!

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6 hours ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Never had the UV effect with anything in SL. Same with really well drawn animation movies (like final fantasy for example) or realistic looking video games. Even if the graphics are really well done.

In-world, I'd agree: I can't think of an instance where I experienced it there. One reason too might be context: the SL environment -- backgrounds, AOs, poses, and animations -- is in some ways so obviously artificial that it seldom feels like anything other than SL.

I'm becoming convinced, the more I have read here and thought about it, that my response to my own pic is the result of a complicated combination of factors, of which the Uncanny Valley effect is just one. And I wonder whether the fact that it is my own avatar doesn't accentuate that. We identify so strongly with our avis, so we might be more susceptible when viewing ourselves to weird emotional or mental events.

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I think people have differing opinions as to where the uncanny valley is. I’m a fan of realism, so the closer to a real looking person, the better it is for me.

I was friends with a skin maker and she felt too much realism wasn’t appropriate for SL. That was years ago...and she doesn’t make skins anymore. I’ve have heard “That avatar looks too real” before, so it’s definitely a thing that differs from person to person.

My uncanny valley seems to be those renders a lot of people are doing in keyshot for ads. They just look all weird and glowy and just....wrong. If SL used lighting like that I might feel different. Also morphed photos....they drive me nuts. Some of them are really well done, but somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice in the back of mind screams out “Why?”

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I am never bothered with that. I understand what Uncanny Valley is supposed to mean. I just don't have in me to feel uncomfortable or think that something is too real. I like real. I like a mix of real and unreal. If I feel something at all, it is thinking "Well done" or "That's a just a morph" or "That's trying too hard with effects". But I can't say any of those reactions are like the ones when people try to explain what "Uncanny Valley" feels like.

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I was helping a friend update his avi, and one of the skins I tried was one of the photo-realistic ones that resemble a hardened prison inmate. On the marketplace, this skin looked like a RL photo someone was using to sell a skin, so I tried it to see what it looked like in-world. The result disturbed me. It really did look like a real person, not an avatar, and something about that was squirmy. The fact the friend doesn't use hair further shot the skin into the no... no, this isn't SL anymore zone. I agree about hair, hair is definitely the grounding factor here, and I'm not sure why it hasn't reached a very realistic point. But after the experience with that skin, I don't mind so much.

I think avatars still having an unreal look allows us to immerse ourselves to be a second self, in a second world, and not trying to project ourselves into someone who isn't us.. Who is some other person we're just controlling. I have no wish anymore to try and make my avatar more realistic. Nope.

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9 minutes ago, Marianne Little said:

But I can't say any of those reactions are like the ones when people try to explain what "Uncanny Valley" feels like.

This is what is people often call "uncanny."

repliee-q2.jpg

Human's are pre-wired to see simulacrums in everything.  We want to find the face in the clouds or Jesus on a tortilla or whatever.  But when confronted with something like this which is supposed to be a face but is clearly not ... it flips that "ewwww" switch because we don't know what caused this horrible disfigurement.  It a feeling of empathy and pathos for another person.  That uncomfortable feeling of not wanting to stare but unable to look away.  That is the uncanny valley.  As we have seen with other examples all through here, you can easily get out of that valley to a point where we still know it is not real but it also no longer makes you uncomfortable to look at it.

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The Uncanny valley in SL is 100% a thing.

BUT (and a rather huge but)

The longer you look at something that might qualify as uncanny, the less affected by it you are. You can essentially break train your brain not to see it.

Which is why that new head you bought feels weird for a few days.

This is somewhat double edged, as while you are getting used to something as being 'normal', a new user to SL will log in, look around, feel positively sick about how weird everyone looks, and leave never to come back. There is a very strong case for forcing all newbies into a more anthropomorphised avatar.

This was less of an issue with the old default avatar, it was so far from realistic it didn't trip people up the same way.

This same trick is used extensively in Hollywood to get CGI characters past. Those blue people from Avatar, fine! Gollum, fine! Young Jeff Bridges from Tron Legacy .. Faux Peter Cushing in Rouge One ... They both look so amazingly bad it's hard to see how they thought that looked ok .. and the rub is, they had spent so long looking at them while making the film, to them , they did.

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23 minutes ago, CoffeeDujour said:

The longer you look at something that might qualify as uncanny, the less affected by it you are. You can essentially break train your brain not to see it.

I think that there's unquestionably a lot of truth to this. I suspect that we are all so inured to the "look" of SL -- including the jerky movements from lag, weird shadows and lighting effects, and so on -- that it takes something really unusual to trigger the effect.

I remember by very first day in SL very well. It was, as you say, back in the days when the avatar looked, by default, so cartoonish that it probably wasn't as triggering as mesh ones likely are now. It was still a really surreal, and slightly disturbing experience.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

to the "look" of SL -- including the jerky movements from lag, weird shadows and lighting effects, and so on

Yes. As you get the models close to realistic, other flaws become more obvious. Motion is next.

SL could get photorealism easier than it could get better motion. Static photorealism is mostly rendering. That's pretty much figured out now. See "Principled BSDF", which is the Disney/Pixar standard for how to express surfaces. It basically has all the render layers you really need. They did this to simplify their in-house workflow, and it caught on. Blender supports it. High-end GPUs can now render it.

All this stuff is viewer side. The server just has to tell the viewer, "render this in Principled BSDF mode, using these texture and mesh UUIDs." The viewer does all the rest. It's now mostly "how expensive a GPU do we require the user to get" and "how much bandwidth do they have for mesh and texture data"? The answer right now is "$500-$1000", and "Upwards of 100mb/s." Most SL users aren't there yet.

The viewer has to do something reasonable when it doesn't have enough resources to render all that. That's a big headache in the viewer.

Edited by animats
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Posted (edited)

Yeah, but SL doesn’t support pbr lighting. I’d suspect eep is about as close as we’ll get to modern advanced lighting. If you’ve ever worked with something like substance painter with all of the different maps that are unavailable in SL....well you could say no matter how “realistic” SL is, it leaves a lot to be desired still.

Thats not to say what people are doing in SL isn’t amazing. There are skin makers making some truly realistic looking skins with what is available. If you go back to an older skin from say 4 years ago....big difference!

Also....I’ve seen a couple of people do some amazing things in photos with SL now. I won’t  name names. But it involves custom light boxes and custom normal and specular maps that aren’t available on the major brands of bodies. A lot is still possible with SL as it is. Lighting is key.

 

Edited by janetosilio
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Sure you're not over-thinking this Scylla?

For sure some avis creep me out, but its more about inherant lack of attractiveness than anything else. 

/me shrugs and moves on (to the next avi pic) 🙄

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I've long wondered what me might learn from looking at the uncanny valley in reverse. Are there psychological characteristics in people that correlate to how, and how much, they react to the incongruities that constitute "uncanny"? The valley isn't there just for depictions or simulations of humans either. Over the years I've met a few real people who've triggered my creep detector. One of them was a young boy, twenty years ago. After seeing him for barely a moment, during which he said nothing, my father and I both concluded that he was going to be "nothing but trouble". In a discussion after the encounter, we determined that the movement of his eyes was what triggered that feeling.

A year or two ago, I learned that the boy had grown into a violent criminal. And I'm now left to wonder if we'd correctly assessed some inner evil, or whether the young man is the sad victim of a lifetime of misapprehension by others due to some small defect in the way his eyes look or move, coupled with an inability to deal with it.

I have a friend with a prominent birthmark on the iris of her right eye. She lives in a world where everybody presents the uncanny valley effect because they shift their gaze towards her right eye when speaking to her. She's learned to ignore it, but after a few glasses of wine, it starts to bug her. And I bug the hell out of her because I purposely shift my gaze to her left eye, which is a behavior she hasn't learned to ignore. She's gregarious, warm, and very funny, and at least some of that is intentional as she tries to get out ahead of any discomfort people have when looking into her eyes. And that's what makes me wonder about the young criminal.

This uncanny feeling isn't always unpleasant though. When seeing Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" many years ago, my ex-hubby and I both felt an otherworldliness we could not describe. We felt it even more when viewing a smaller painting of a man sitting at a table, lit by a candle. We both felt as though we were looking into a scene that was alive, which is approximately the opposite of most uncanny valley experiences.

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18 minutes ago, BelindaN said:

Sure you're not over-thinking this Scylla?

For sure some avis creep me out, but its more about inherant lack of attractiveness than anything else. 

/me shrugs and moves on (to the next avi pic) 🙄

What Maddy said!

I'm a trained over-thinker!

I think it makes people take notice of me! It's almost a human behaviour . . . but not quite "right" . . .

.

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48 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

I think it makes people take notice of me! It's almost a human behaviour . . . but not quite "right" . . .

   If you're implying that you're attempting to blend in through replicating human behavior, people taking notice of you would be contra-productive, no?

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On 6/6/2019 at 3:05 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

But I am very interested to hear if anyone here has ever experienced this effect in SL, either in-world, or through the pics posted here.

ErieSL.thumb.png.05a1fc77b77e5814e45d05ed5dcd8065.png

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Morena Tully said:

I think avatars still having an unreal look allows us to immerse ourselves to be a second self, in a second world, and not trying to project ourselves into someone who isn't us.. Who is some other person we're just controlling. I have no wish anymore to try and make my avatar more realistic. Nope.

Yeah, I think generally agreed. Although I tend to try to make my pics look "real," I actually don't think that a really effective blurring of the line between our perception of the "real" and of the "virtual" is probably a very good idea, and not just because of the creepiness factor. It's too easy to become a little "lost" in SL, so deeply immersed that one loses a sense of proportion, or of where one "is," as things already stand. I'm not sure that a verisimilitude that is so good that we can barely tell the difference between physical and digital worlds is likely very healthy.

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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9 hours ago, Rhonda Huntress said:

It a feeling of empathy and pathos for another person.  That uncomfortable feeling of not wanting to stare but unable to look away.

This is a really interesting idea that hadn't occurred to me. I like it a lot -- I naturally want to feel that people feel empathy -- but I wonder if this doesn't vary a lot, depending upon the context and the person who is perceiving.

It seems to me at least as likely that the feeling can be one of disgust and horror, and the natural response is rejection of the other as "alien," inhuman, and hence not worthy of empathy. Were I inclined to explain this through evolutionary biology, I suppose I could argue that that is a kind of evolutionary defense mechanism.

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13 hours ago, janetosilio said:

Also morphed photos....they drive me nuts.

Yes! The mixing of the virtual and "real" in these is, for me anyway, really disturbing. But . . . clearly some people disagree, or they wouldn't do it?

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

I've long wondered what me might learn from looking at the uncanny valley in reverse. Are there psychological characteristics in people that correlate to how, and how much, they react to the incongruities that constitute "uncanny"?

I think for sure this must be true. And the reasons are probably enormously complex, relating to environment, experience, as well as, possibly, innate psychological traits? It would certainly explain why, as some have noted here (and see Marianne's post), not everyone responds the same way to, or even necessarily perceives, the uncanny effect.

 

5 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Over the years I've met a few real people who've triggered my creep detector. One of them was a young boy, twenty years ago. After seeing him for barely a moment, during which he said nothing, my father and I both concluded that he was going to be "nothing but trouble". In a discussion after the encounter, we determined that the movement of his eyes was what triggered that feeling.

I probably have too, but I'm not sure I identified it at the time as related to the uncanny valley effect. But this may relate to what I said above about it being a sort of evolutionary development, a way of spotting something that might be dangerous?

5 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

A year or two ago, I learned that the boy had grown into a violent criminal. And I'm now left to wonder if we'd correctly assessed some inner evil, or whether the young man is the sad victim of a lifetime of misapprehension by others due to some small defect in the way his eyes look or move, coupled with an inability to deal with it.

Hmmm. Or a version of confirmation bias? We remember instances where the reality tended to confirm our gut (and probably irrational) responses, and forget the myriad of other occasions where it does not?

 

5 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

This uncanny feeling isn't always unpleasant though. When seeing Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" many years ago, my ex-hubby and I both felt an otherworldliness we could not describe. We felt it even more when viewing a smaller painting of a man sitting at a table, lit by a candle. We both felt as though we were looking into a scene that was alive, which is approximately the opposite of most uncanny valley experiences.

I really like art that does the opposite -- that deliberately, I suppose, creates an effect something like the uncanny valley by violating the usual visual/artistic codes that we use to create realism. So, Dali is often kind of creepy because his paintings are both "realistic," and at the same time weirdly "not right." But one of my favourite examples is Giorgio de Chirico's "Melancholy and Mystery of a Street," where the deliberate messing up of the rules of linear perspective plays a huge role, I think, in making this eerie and more than a little sinister.

Chirico Melancholy and Mystery of a Street - Blank.jpg

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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Posted (edited)

I'm intrigued by this thread.  I came to SL in 2007, chose an avi, and soon discovered that my system wasn't up to the task.  Years later, in 2012 after purchasing a new computer Second Life came to me, like a second thought and soon I was immersed with that same avi.  Over the years, I've had the well intentioned comments regarding my outdated avi, but I haven't had "the heart" to part with every emotion, new world, home, friend, realization that intertwines me to that special avi.  I've expressed myself more truly at times through that relic than I ever have in so-called RL.  So a certain UV experience is at the heart of my relationship.....perceiving my rendered "self" at times empowered and very real.  It's a form of self love I suppose, if that make any sense.  I was away from SL for 9 months, and here I am again.  During that time, I had uncanny experiences of SL memories layered underneath my experiences in RL that were triggering such.  It's a fascinating experience.

Edited by Truestar Mokeev
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In SL - human statue and avatar.
The statue looks like real human, the avatar looks too "smooth" and doll like.
Why nobody makes avatars like the man on the left? Looks like real human but the SL's limited animations would make it to look really weird perhaps?

2018-11-22_Lea23_2.thumb.jpg.ef548ff17855298bf657245e0095f1b0.jpg

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