Anyone with an appreciation for artificial intelligence in movies will likely have been impressed with humanoid robot “Ava” in the Hollywood film “Ex Machina.”
“Ex Machina” was made on a budget of just £10 million, which meant that software had to be used to create things that might have been physically made if the film had a higher budget.
Visual effects firm Double Negative created Ava using advanced motion tracking technology. Double Negative’s Andrew Whitehurst, the visual effects supervisor on “Ex Machina” and an Oscar nominee, told the BBC: “We made decisions with the way that Ava was designed that if it had been a massive budget film we wouldn’t have done because you can do whatever you like.”
Whitehurst explained that “Ava” is essentially a combination of Alicia Vikander, the Oscar-nominated actress that played Ava, and computer-generated imagery. He said the movement of certain parts of Ava’s anatomy, including her chest and shoulders, are hard to replicate using software so Whitehurst said he always tried to use Vikander in these instances.
“Once we’d shot with the actors, we’d ask them to step out and then we’d shoot a ‘clean plate’, which is where we try and copy the camera move but with none of the actors in there,” Whitehurst added. “We could use that then to paint out the parts of Alicia that we wanted to be rid of. That gave us a clean background that we could put the CG robot internals over the top of.”
In the film, Ava is created by Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), the founder and CEO of software company, BlueBook.
Bateman invites his employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to put Ava through the Turing test, which is designed to test an AI’s ability to persuade the tester it is human.
“Ex Machina” has gone on to win widespread critical praise and earned over £24 million at the worldwide box office.
While the film failed to win any BAFTA’s last night, it is still up for a number of Oscars.
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