[AB 11] Hyper-Realistic Characters and the Existence of the Uncanny Valley in Animation Films

by Fethi Kaba.

In this article, Kaba examines the paradox in animation as it faces developing a realistic aesthetic. When animation draws nearer to hyper-realism, that induces an unsettling aesthetic questioning the believeability of the animation, hence the uncanny valley. The concept of the uncanny was first introduced in a psychological approach, then applied to the production of human-like robots. Masahiro Mori published in 1970 of “the uncanny valley” that referred to these robots that has become the subject discussed in animation, defining the uncanny valley by how “people are usually upset when faced with some phenomenon it cannot represent… I have noticed that, as robots appear more humanlike, our sense of their familiarity increases until we come to a valley”.

Kaba uses two examples as a comparison for what is the uncanny valley and what is still acceptable that is ‘The Polar Express’ and ‘The Incredibles’. The character design of ‘The Incredibles’ represents more of a traditional cartoon form as opposed to ‘The Polar Express’. According to Tid Newton, he states in animation it takes a bit of exaggeration to make something look convincing.

With this in mind, the article is useful in understanding how certain aesthetics are more successful than others.


KABA, Fethi (2013) Hyper-Realistic Characters and the Existence of the Uncanny Valley in Animation Films, International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp.188-195


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