Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

John Carey 

Design for Stage + Screen

My name is John Carey. I am a graduate from IADT with BA [Hons] in Design for Stage and Screen where I specialised in Character Makeup Design. With a passion for creating characters and telling stories, I have honed my skills into prosthetic making merged with digital animation. I have always enjoyed displaying my creative skills in areas of fine art but through this course I have learned to combine my theoretical skills to my work. With my commitment to continuous learning I am always looking for different ways to enhance the projects I work on.

Major Project

My Major Project is an exploration of findings from my thesis on the effect of the Uncanny Valley in 21st century charcter design. Having observed emerging technologies in areas of augmented reality and brain-computer interfaces I explored how advances in artificial intelligence technology might effect human evolution and present as a character. For this project I looked at the stengthening symbiotic relationship between humans and technology and questions if a human body altered with technology, specifically artificial intelligence, lies in the realm of human or in the uncanny valley. I used a combination of silicone prosthetics and 3d models to create the evolution of a character as her body becomes a vessel for an Ai system to grow, learn and navigate the world.

The Effect of the Uncanny Valley in 21st Century Character Design

In the 20th century, certain roboticists and filmmakers pursued a goal to replicate a human with the use of technology. One roboticist, Masahiro Mori, noticed as they began to reach this goal of human likeness the robots started to become eerie and he developed a theory, the Uncanny Valley theory, as an explanation for this phenomenon. In 2004, The Polar Express celebrated a huge feat in filmmaking possibilities, by using motion capture technology to produce a film that showcases a full cast of animated digital humans, but there was something off about them. This thesis considers the theory of the Uncanny Valley as a cause for digital human's inherent eeriness. An analysis of the characters in the film Avatar proves that it is possible to bypass this valley through certain character design principles and filmmaking techniques. Yet a discussion on the film Cats proves that despite 15 years of developments in this technology since The Polar Express, the Uncanny Valley still poses a threat to filmmakers. Lastly, a consideration of the success of the horror film M3GAN proves the Uncanny Valley effects can be beneficial in certain cases. Overall, this thesis is an exploration of films that feature digitally animated humanlike characters and how these characters are often negatively received and perceived as creepy. This thesis considers how the theory of the Uncanny Valley illuminates our understanding of character design and animation techniques and how filmmakers can utilise certain principles to avoid it or take advantage of this eerie phenomenon.