Visualization Design Institute

Today we visited the Visualization Design Institute at Sheridan College. The lab’s primary focus is computer visualization and simulation. They have implemented this technology in scientific, medical, engineering, educational, cultural and environmental research.

Song Ho Ahn demonstrated the Facial Animation Communication Engine F.A.C.E. Using this software, one is able to use video input of human faces to control motion and facial expressions of 3D human models. During our demonstration the 3D model was able to track our human subject’s general movements quite well.

One practical application of using human faces to control facial animation, is reducing the need to produce hundreds of different 3-D shapes and allowing animators to work with an optimal number of control points. Being able to work with less markers allows for reduced setup and cleanup time.

Avid subsidiary SoftImage announced a breakthrough similar to F.A.C.E. in 2005, and allowing animators to create faces by using key frame animation or motion capture, watching a live actor’s face.

One challenge for real-time facial animation, is that as we make our 3-D models more realistic we are less forgiving of imperfections in modeling and animation. This is because we are use to reading subtle facial characteristics in our everyday life.

Facial Animation: Past, Present and Future.

The Immersion Theatre is a multi-screen theatre, where the users can “control” story direction and character outcomes with wireless tablets. Unfortunately there was a problem with one of the screens being out of synch, and the film seemed dated. Also the choices we made using the tablets, didn’t seem to correlate with what was happening on the movie screen. Despite the technical difficulties, the concept of using branching video is and audience involvement is an interesting twist on tradition linear video.

A more compelling example of immersive video is the VirtuSphere, which is “full body immersion Virtual Reality.” Inside the VirtuSphere, the virtual explorer can physically navigate the virtual world with genuine human movement, – the headset is wireless, and senses 360 degree movement, but unlike any existing virtual reality or gaming peripheral, the floor moves and each virtual step is accompanied by a real one of the same dimensions.

Here is an example video of this technology in action: