Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amazing "Avatar" Tech: Say Goodbye to the Uncanny Valley

Michael here.  In case you still harbored any doubts that the CG characters in James Cameron's Avatar will be anything less 100% photorealistic (i.e. indistinguishable from reality), this video demo of the Image Metrics facial performance capture technology that Cameron is using should make you a believer.

Meet "Emily":  

Oh...did I mention she isn't real?  Image Metrics uses an HD camera along with proprietary computer software (no sticky dots!) to analyze the most minute facial movements of a performer, and then superimposes those movements on a CG model.  The results are mind boggling.  I can't wait to see what Cameron and WETA have done with this.

Avatar producer Jon Landau on Image Metrics:

"Image Metrics’ revolutionary technologies for performance-driven character animation require neither complex motion-capture hardware, nor specialist technical knowledge. Their animation solutions put the performer at the heart of the process, dramatically enhancing the creativity and reducing post-production time. It is this type of innovation that will again allow us to present to the consumer, stories that could not otherwise be told."

The Times Online and Technabob have informative articles up on "Emily" and the technology behind her.  Also check out the Image Metrics website.

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Jim Dorey
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