Meet Saya: the Incredibly Realistic Computer-Generated Japanese Schoolgirl

Meet Saya: the Incredibly Realistic Computer-Generated Japanese Schoolgirl

Editor’s Note:
This article was originally published by our friends at Spoon & Tamago, an excellent site covering Japanese design and art in the way we cover Japanese tech; of course we both have our specialties, but the two often overlap - case in point below. Definitely add them to your list! What follows has been minimally edited for content and structure, and is republished with permission.

Although her looks indicate otherwise, Saya is not your typical Japanese schoolgirl.

Her parents, Teruyuki and Yuki Ishikawa, have big dreams for their beautiful daughter. They want her to play a character in a movie they are self-producing. Where will she find the time with all her schoolwork? Not to worry. Saya is only as real as the pixels on your screen. Her soft cheeks, lush, black hair and hazel-brown eyes are all computer-generated imagery.

Computer graphics have improved so drastically in recent years that it’s becoming difficult to tell the difference between real life and renderings. But given a close look, I’m pretty confident in discerning one from the other. And when I first saw Saya I was convinced she was real. Only now, after looking at her revealing, skinless mock-ups, do I start to pick up on Saya’s subtle non-humanness.

Her creators, the Ishikawas, are a husband-and-wife duo who, together, are Tokyo-based freelance 3D CG artists. Saya was gently brought to life in their spare time as they attempted to balance commercial work and personal projects. According to the artists, the hardest part was achieving the moist, soft and translucent skin of girls this age. The hair, they added, is not up to their expectations.

A counterpart to Saya is also in development and both of them will be put to motion in the duo’s self-produced film. So we have that to look forward to.