Why it’s so hard to make CGI skin look real

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Published on 3 Aug 2021, 12:00
Realistic-looking skin isn’t all that different from realistic-looking skim milk.

In the above video, Vox’s Phil Edwards looks at why realistic CGI skin is so hard for visual effects artists to master. Weta Digital’s Nick Epstein and Luxion’s Henrik Wann Jensen serve as guides to the parameters that separate realistic-looking skin from the waxy, fake-looking CGI of the past: albedo, displacements, subsurface scattering, and dynamic changes.

There’s been extraordinary progress from the cutting-edge CGI characters in 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to 2019’s Alita: Battle Angel. This video shows a bit about how that happened.

Jensen’s website has links to most of his key papers: graphics.ucsd.edu/~henrik

Weta’s Alita site is here: wetafx.co.nz/films/filmography...

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