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An Investigation into the uncanny: character design, behaviour and context.

Tharib, S, 2013. An Investigation into the uncanny: character design, behaviour and context. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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Tharib,Safa_Ph.D.2013 Printed Version.pdf



Whilst there has been a substantial amount of research into the uncanny valley, defining research that contextualises a character as they would normally be viewed remains an unexplored area. Often previous research focused solely on realistic render styles giving characters an unfair basis that tended towards the realistic, thus facilitating only one mode of animation style: realism. Furthermore, characters were not contextualized because researchers often used footage from previous productions. These characters also differed in quality as various artists worked on different productions. This research considers characterisation as three key components, the aesthetic, the behaviour and the contextualisation. Attempts were made to develop a greater understanding of how these components contribute to the appeal of a character within the field of 3D computer animation. Research consisted of two experiments. Both experiments were conducted using an online survey method. The first experiment used five different characters ranging from realistic to abstract. Each character displayed three different behaviours and the characters were contextualized within a six panel narrative. Data obtained from the first experiment was used to refine the second experiment. A further experiment was conducted to further define how combinations of different behaviours and the context containing a character affected the subject’s perception. The second experiment used three different character types and the characters were contextualized within a video stimulus. Findings from the first experiment indicated a strong relationship between character type and context. Interest with the various characters changed depending on adaptions to either the behaviour of the said character or the contextualisation. Certain character types based on appearance where better suited to different contexts than others. An abstract character was more likely to be perceived positively by the subject in a surprising context stipulated by the behaviour of the character and form of the narrative sequence. Other characters such as one based around an inanimate object found a greater positive reception with the subjects under sad contextual constraints rather than happy or surprise. The first experiment took into account various independent variables obtained from the subject and aimed to draw parallels if found between these variables and the subjects perception of a given character be it positive or negative. However, these variables namely gender, nationality and age had no effect on the subject’s perception. In the second experiment, it was found that in order for the realistic human character to be perceived more positively, the behaviour needed to match the context. When a mismatch occurred the subjects began to perceive the character more negatively. The cartoon character was however not affected by the mismatch of behaviour and context. The experiment was further expanded when two different character types were compared committing negative actions and having negative actions inflicted upon them and what effect it had on the subjects perception. It was found that a cartoon character committing a negative action was perceived positively whilst a human character committing the same act was perceived negatively. However, when a negative action was inflicted on these same characters, subjects were more concerned for the human character than the cartoon character. Results from both experiments confirm the idea that various characters are perceived very differently by the viewers and come with predefined notions within the viewer of how they should behave. What is expected of one character type is not acceptable for another character type. Cartoon characters can get away with bizarre behaviour. A real human character may have some sort of novel unusual behaviour, whilst a realistic CG human character is assessed on how realistically (normally) it behaves. This research expands upon previous research into this area by offering a greater understanding of character types and emphasising the importance of contextualisation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21383
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:18 Aug 2014 10:13
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:03


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