Some Of The People During Yesterday’s PS5 Event Were CGI And You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise

The face of a human from Housemarque’s Returnal running on a PS5.
The face of a human from Housemarque’s Returnal running on a PS5.
Screenshot: Housemarque (Returnal)

While Sony’s PS5 reveal event yesterday was pre-recorded rather than live, it still showed plenty of faces talking about video games. Some people would tell you that all of these faces—which all had the same silky sheen and washed out glow despite recording from seperate rooms—belonged to real people standing in front of real cameras. I am not one of them.

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I mean, just look at this man:

Illustration for article titled Some Of The People During Yesterday’s PS5 Event Were CGI And You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise
Screenshot: Sony (YouTube)
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According to Sony, this is its head of Worldwide Studios, Hermen Hulst. According to every fiber of my being, this man is a Horizon Zero Dawn character. It’s not just Hulst though.

I’ve seen Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida present games dozens of times, and never has he glistened like he just popped off the ray tracing assembly line:

Illustration for article titled Some Of The People During Yesterday’s PS5 Event Were CGI And You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise
Screenshot: Sony (YouTube)

From Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi talking about the new Gran Turismo to Oddworld Inhabitants’ Lorne Lanning talking about the new Oddworld, these presenters looked like replicants. Their bodies were halo-ed by a weird white glow, and their faces were oddly reflective. Sony tells Kotaku that all of the people who appeared were real and recorded their segments from home. Mhm. Sure.

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About five minutes into Sony’s PS5 event, Jim Ryan, the president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, appeared in front of a black background. “The content we’ve curated for today’s event showcases how PS5 has inspired developers to create new experiences,” he said, “that are transformative in how they look, sound, and feel.” What could be more transformative than CGI presenters who convince the more conspiracy-prone among us that the uncanny valley has collapsed and video games are just real life now?

A human running on the PS5 from Hitman III.
A human running on the PS5 from Hitman III.
Screenshot: IO Interactive (Hitman III)
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Ryan’s remarks were followed by a disclaimer that stated “all game footage you are about to see from this point forward in the show has been captured from PlayStation 5 systems.” Maybe I’ve seen one too many Christopher Nolan movies or my brain is simply rotting from being subjected to so much video game graphics marketing, but when I’m told that “all game footage” is from a PS5 and then the people who come after that look like video game characters too, I’m going to believe the whole thing is a game.

Some will take the fact that Sony never revealed during the event that all of the presenters were fake, and in fact swore the opposite, as evidence that these were just people who looked naturally stunning while filming from home during an ongoing pandemic. For me, it only raises more questions. Maybe all of the game makers who appeared in front of the camera weren’t running on a PS5, but were still fancied up in post-production with special effects. Or maybe we are all just CGI phantoms being simulated inside a PlayStation 17 Pro.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

atari-zero
Atari-Zero

As funny as this meme is, most of the time presenters are dusted with powder makeup to remove natural skin oil shine. If they recorded at home, which is likely, they probably didn’t have the necessary makeup artist on-site to prep them for the recording, so they end up looking shiny.  We all look shiny, we just have the benefit of decent neutral lighting most of the time.

Also, regarding the background, I think they must have done some post effects to remove whatever background they were standing in. Having done video editing for years, I can tell you that making a layer mask on a moving object is not easy, but automated tools can get you 99% of the way there. What then remains is adjusting what’s called the “choke”. This will pull the mask’s edges in toward the subject to further remove the background (usually green screen). The problem with that is you automatically lose border-edge details like wisps of hair, shirt wrinkles, sometimes even parts of ears or the creases in the skin.

Doing background removal while preserving the subject is not super easy in the best of scenarios with a good lighting setup and a green screen. If these were done in a non-professional recording studio then the post effect team would likely have had to tweak a lot of little settings to improve the cleanliness of the removal to avoid desaturation of the skin tones.

Anyway, I would be shocked that they would fake the presenters.  There’s really no reason to do it.