Idea: The uncanny valley as a plot element
I’ve been thinking the past few days about the uncanny valley in animation. I think it could be used as a plot element in a movie. Through some bit of sci-fi magic, an all-CGI character exists in our real world, but nobody accepts him because there’s something just not right about him. He exists in the uncanny valley and so everyone has a bit of revulsion or discomfort about him.
But that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m not sure what kind of story would best make use of this idea. How does a CGI character live in our world? Is it a ToonTown kind of thing, where animated characters have always lived among us, and he’s the first CGI character to be born? Or is it magic? I don’t like the idea of magic in a story like this. I think it should either be sci-fi somehow, or just left unexplained.
Maybe it’s a variation on the Pinocchio story. Somehow an old man uses a computer and some unexplained plot device to create a CGI son. But the boy isn’t accepted by the other kids because he’s all CGI.
Or perhaps it’s a variation on the Frankenstein story. A scientist figures out a way to bring a CGI character to life, and the townspeople are so repulsed by this character stuck in the uncanny valley that they turn on him and hunt him down with pitchforks and torches.
Maybe a computer-savvy high school kid figures out a way to bring his online avatar into our world, but now that avatar is stuck here and has to try to fit in. But being in the uncanny valley, nobody can accept him as the new kid in school, and he remains an outsider. Oh, and there’s a love triangle.
It might work best in a short film, where you could get away with having an unexplained bit of magic more easily than you could in a feature. And it would cost less, since the main character needs to be fully computer animated, which could be pricey.
Also, it should be called “CG, I.”