“Mars Needs Moms” and the ‘uncanny valley’ theory

ABC News reports:

Computer animation has a problem: When it gets too realistic, it starts creeping people out.

Most recently, moviegoers complained about the near-realistic depiction of humans in Disney’s 3-D flick “Mars Needs Moms.”

A theory called the “uncanny valley” says we tend to feel attracted to inanimate objects with human traits, the way a teddy bear or a rag doll seems cute. Our affection grows as an object looks more human. But if it looks too human, we suddenly become repulsed.

Instead of seeing what’s similar, we notice the flaws — and the motionless eyes or awkward movements suddenly make us uncomfortable.

“Mars” may have plunged to the bottom of this valley of fear.

“People always comment on things feeling strangely dead around the eyes,” said Chuck Sheetz, an animation director of “The Simpsons” and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If it gets too literal, it starts to feel false or has a strange effect.”

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