Exploring the Technology of Chappie
Tony Bradley of ‘Forbes’ looks into the interesting technology that went into creating a movie like Chappie. He compares it to a mixture of Short Circuit and Robocop. Furthermore, the film has a similar combination of a robot gaining consciousness like Johnny Five in Short Circuit with the questions of the ethics of having a full out robotic police force like in Robocop. He saw the movie and enjoyed it as well as thorough attention to the character’s detail.
Forbes had the chance to speak with Chris Harvey, visual effects supervisor for Chappie, about the effort that went into making the robot come to life on screen. CGI (computer generated imagery), is nothing new as far as movies go. In fact most movies have it in them in some degree at least, but there are a few aspects of creating Chappie that stands out as unique. Harvey, has worked on many science fiction blockbusters such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, TRON: Legacy, and Fantastic 4:Rise of the Silver Surfer, so he has a lot of experience to handle a movie like Chappie. He explained that Chappie was unique because he was the main character of the movie. The scope of effort involved in making a computer generated lead actor is daunting.
Another movie with extensive computer generated effects was James Cameron’s Avatar. Avatar used motion capture to create digital frames of actor’s movements. Chappie, on the other hand, did not use this method. The visual effects team created all the motion from scratch. It was an even further challenge to create the character that wasn’t organic. Chappie is a humanoid robot constructed of metal and wires. The production team also had to address the issue of creating emotion and connection with the audience without normal facial expressions or eyes. Whatever they did do, worked.
You could connect to Chappie, and you could feel the passion and emotions associating with the struggle an artificial intelligence becoming sentient. An interesting note from the movie is that it felt very real; in a way reality isn’t that far off from the world created in the movie. The team also spent time with the UCLA robotics lab and robotics expert Dr. Dennis Hong. Dr. Hong said we aren’t far off from creating a robot like Chappie. We have systems in place that are capable of making a robot with the ability to think and make decisions. Although, he stresses we’re nowhere close to building a robot that is actually self-aware. Check out the film to see Chappie in action and then check out the Chappie auctions to possess a piece of the movie.
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