A Future Where Actors are Robots

Illustration for article titled A Future Where Actors are Robots

The future of entertainment may not be in Hollywood, but in Massachusetts. The MIT Media Lab announced this week that it is launching the Center for Future Storytelling, a research program that will develop new storytelling technologies. The team envisions a future that includes robotic actors and improved motion capture, but also increased democratization and participation, so that stories are told not just by individuals, but by entire communities.The Future for Interactive Storytelling was founded by three members of MIT’s Media Lab: V. Michael Bove Jr., who studies object-based media and interactive television, Cynthia Breazeal, who works in personal robotics and human-robot interaction, and Ramesh Raskar, who cultivates new technologies in imaging, display, and performance capture. Together, they are looking at how storytelling is changing and what it is capable of in a world of advanced technologies and community interactions: According to a release from the newly-formed group:

By applying leading-edge technologies to make stories more interactive, improvisational and social, researchers will seek to transform audiences into active participants in the storytelling process, bridging the real and virtual worlds, and allowing everyone to make their own unique stories with user-generated content on the Web. Center research will also focus on ways to revolutionize imaging and display technologies, including developing next-generation cameras and programmable studios, making movie production more versatile and economic.


Part of the lab’s work will involve creating more effective robotic actors and improved blending of human and animated movement in motion capture, but at the core of the project is finding new ways for stories to become living, changing products of human interaction. Says Bove:

Imagine what people could do in storytelling if our rooms and our furniture and our cars and our shoes and everything else we interacted with could be collecting information as in a diary and we could play that all back and use that as part of creating stories.

The Center’s work will not be merely theoretical. MIT is partnering with Plymouth Rock Studios, which is planning to build a 14-soundstage complex in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2010. The studio is looking to produce traditional story-based productions, which it hopes will come out of MIT’s research. [MIT and The New York Times]


But what does SAG have to say about this? I mean, they threw such a fit over giving C-3P0 and R2-D2 Union cards back in the day.