Headline November 29 2019/ '' ' CINEMA'S DEATH COMPUTE ' ''



All Film Rights, All Book Rights of The World Students Society belongs to the Students of the entire world, governed by your elected members and Founders Veto.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD HAUNTS the cinema. Digital cloning of James Dean threatens the future of real actors.

James Dean is set to return to the big screen next year but for the fist time  in six and a half decades. This is not through unseen footage or remastered Giant. For the upcoming drama Finding Jack, the cultural icon will be a product of computer generated - generated imagery.

News of Deans resurrection comes with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman already in international cinemas, featuring digitally ''de-aged'' versions of Robert de Niro, AI Pacino and Joe Pesci. 

As Tinsel town becomes increasingly unreal, a dictum attributed to Walt Disney - ''When we do fantasy, we must not lose sight of reality'' - rings ever more true.

The Irishman and Finding Jack represent very different levels of filic fakery. The former, merging a CGI mask with real footage of actors, is increasingly commonplace. In many cases it is unmentioned, treated more like Botox or Photoshopping.

Finding Jack's creators claim to be generating a fully digital James Dean doppelganger. This far more expensive and time consuming technology was used to create a younger Will Smith in last month's Gemini Man.

THERE MAYBE SOME MERIT IN BRINGING one of the most promising stars of the last century to a younger audience, James Dean carrier was cut tragically short. Finding Jack offers an opportunity to see what could have been.

CGI technology has previously been used to bring back deceased performers in familiar roles, such as Peter Cushing's simulacrum in 2016's Star Wars : Rogue One as a Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.

The plot-twist in Finding Jack comes as the streaming wars between Apple, Netflix, Disney and others heat up. Vast sums are being thrown at new content, with platforms hoping that big names will draw in viewers.

Digitally resurrecting late, great stars might appeal to harried executives running short of ideas.

But the idea of reanimating actors for films that they had no part in choosing provokes unease. Gemini Man's poor commercial performance shows that snazzy CGI alone is not enough to impress audiences, though at least Mr. Smith was a voluntary participant.

There is a risk of the deceased being ''cast'' with little regard for the quality of the production, or the impact on their reputation as performers. The late Robin Williams decision to restrict the use of his image for 25 years after his death seems increasingly prescient.

ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY ALSO RISK making acting an even tougher field to break into. The Irishman is a striking example of the electronic fountain of youth that older actors can access.

Finding Jack maybe the first case of directors directly snubbing younger actors to cast one of the departed. As the technology improves, cinema stars both young and old might start to face competition from digital recreations.

Fully CGI stars, after all, come without scheduling conflicts, histrionics, or eccentric contractual demands. Yet it would surely be a tragedy for cinema if digital wizardry were to supplant the human artistry of great, live actors.

Finding Jack's creators face the challenge of creating a convincing digital Dean using limited, relatively low-fidelty material. Those behind Mr. Smiths younger version in  Gemini Man, by contrast, had a copious catalogue from the 1990s and the actor himself for the motion capture.

But the rate of  innovation may soon permit lifelike recreations of almost any actor, for increasingly low cost. That should not become commonplace.

Immortality on the silver screen is something to be earned by actors' performances when they are alive, not through digital clones after they have gone.

With respectful dedication to Cinema, Creators, Students, Professors
and Teachers of the world, and Financial Times. 

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