Shooting around corona is not easy, so why not let robots handle it?
We've talked about the trials and tribulations of shooting during a pandemic, but what if you didn't need that many people on set? What if you could run things through a skeleton crew and instead of actors...you used robots?
Bondit Capital Media, the money behind movies like To the Bone and Loving Vincent, has a $70 million science-fiction movie called b, set to shoot during this awful time. And it's going to star an A.I. Robot named Erica.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, created Erica in real life as part of their study of robotics. They also taught her to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence. Unsure if she's method or more Stanislavsky, but I guess we can ask.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, b is based on a story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze. b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed escape. The intelligent woman will be played by Erica.
Aside from the fact that it's a little creepy to have a bunch of men controlling a robot woman interacting with a human actor, this seems like a cool idea.
“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role,” Khoze says. “But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings, and coaching character development and body language.”
Corona has delayed the movie a bit, producers filmed some of her scenes in Japan in 2019 but they expect to shoot the rest of b in Europe in June of 2021. These 2021 shoots will involve the rest of Erica's scenes.
I wonder if the uncanny valley will affect people watching the movie at all, but for now, it just seems weird to me. I mean, in the YouTube video I put earlier in the article, Erica argues for robot rights—which feels really tone-deaf given the world we live in right now.
Nevertheless, Erica's feature film debut should be an interesting one.