January 26, 2015
The moves make the woman
Most of the motion capture employed in Appleseed: Alpha imbues non-organic forms with human movements. There are only four human beings in the cast (a fifth at the very end); the rest are androids, cyborgs and robots. Without the "uncanny valley" getting in the way, they appear more human than the humans.
Our brains are so wired to recognize human motion that the raw dot-data alone gives us away (as this interactive motion capture demo shows). Of course, secondary sexual characteristics matter too, so most of the males look like roided-up body builders and Deunan wears a tank top.
Mr. and Ms. Killer Robot make for a more fascinating example. There's nothing "skin-deep" about them because they have no skin. But we can discern at a glance the male and female of the species. Clear as day. We sift and sort without thinking about the complex visual information our brains are processing.
There's a female and two males in this still (click to enlarge). How do you know? Instantly? It sounds like a dumb question but think about it. (To start with, implied waist-to-hip ratios, and then pelvis and shoulder morphologies.)
Any lingering doubts are erased the moment they start to move, as at the beginning of this clip.
You cannot lie to the motion capture machine! For a side-by-side comparison, click over to this interactive demo and slide the male/female control back and forth.
Despite the apparent silliness of having "male" and "female" robots, it doesn't disturb my suspension of disbelief. At that level of technology, we humans would waste little time mapping onto robots the full range of recognizable human characteristics, including the common markers for sexual dimorphism.
Appleseed: Ex Machina
The "uncanny valley"