Virtual characters take the stage

AUTHOR: Inavate

An animated 3D figure was demonstrated on January 12, 2009 at London’s Royal Academy of Arts when new virtual character creating technology was launched.

The virtual presenter is created by Animotion Live, an animated character system developed by audiovisual solutions provider, PSP and Writemedia, a creative technical agency.

Animotion is aimed at the live events, film and video and computer-games industries. It operates in real time and in 360 degrees in a bid to capture every nuance of body movement. The system was used on October 1, 2008 during an event at London’s IMAX cinema with Apple Macintosh co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was interviewed by a virtual humanoid.

The motion capture system is based on an actor wearing fibre optic sensing devices that capture highly accurate data on full body and head movements. Facial and voice capture is achieved using phonetic driven real time voice capture. This is claimed to eliminate lip-sync issues and provides full facial expressions and movement.

David Woodcock, account manager at Animotion, said: “The product has been in development for over a year and the results we are achieving are exceptional. Although motion capture has been around for a while, we have really pushed the boundaries in terms of making all the elements work seamlessly together in real time.

“With event budgets being made to work harder than ever, Animotion Live offers an alternative to hiring an expensive celebrity to host an event. A virtual host can offer a more cost effective option, whilst adding significantly to the dramatic impact.”