Homer Simpson isn’t real, you know?
…or is he?
For the first time, and quite remarkably, The Simpsons was recently broadcast live.
Think about it. That’s an extraordinary thing. An animated show, created originally in the classic mode of artist-drawn cells frame after frame, is now being broadcast live, in real time.
The computing power necessary to combine motion-capture and real-time rendering, even for a basic animation form is simply staggering, and actually the subtleties in The Simpsons make it far from basic, really.
Disney’s 1940 tour de force, Fantasia employed over one thousand animators who took more than one hour to create each second of the 126 minutes of running time, with the final scenes going to print just four hours before the movie’s premiere. That’s greater than a 4,000 to 1 ratio of effort-to-output now reduced to a 1 to 1, real-time result. It’s incredible.
What it means, of course, is that the rate of output from the studio can increase exponentially. Gone are the days of scripts and re-writes and re-takes and re-recordings of the voice artistes and the subsequent honing and refining of the animated personae to accurately fit to tone and style of the performance. We’re entering a world where animated characters can be spontaneous, extemporize and improvise their way through a bare-bones script.
Anyone who’s ever attended more than one “improv night” at a comedy club will know that they can be a bit hit-and-miss, which is surely the point, but is that what we want from our long-established, much-loved entertainment shows that have always been of a consistently high-quality?
Do we risk losing the something special that we value so highly by automating the process into real-time?
The answer, I think, depends on the quality of the cast and the writers. The step-change into live performance might well bring an entirely new vitality and creativity to a familiar format. It might seem a bit odd to start with, but looking at it optimistically, it could be the best thing yet to re-boot the whole industry.
Of course, I’ve segued here from animation into procurement. The technology is under development, if not already in existence that will make so much of the ground work and up-front effort go away to be replaced with a more dynamic, real-time interaction across the supply chain. Whether we end up with as satisfying a result - in terms of savings and value – as today might come down to who the actors are. The creativity and flexibility of the players is where the value will be in an increasingly automated world.
After all procurement is about looking for opportunities for value that have yet to be exploited, it’s not just about buying “stuff.”
“Mmmm, stuff!” (Homer J Simpson)