Actors teaching virtual humans
Wednesday, August 08, 2012 4:06 PM
A team of computer scientists is trying to make virtual reality more believable by using the talents of human actors to advance computer programming.
Researchers at Goldsmiths University of London are deploying the skills of top thespians to teach computer generated humans how to respond to interaction.
For the experiment, the actors communicated with members of the public via a screen and their responses to particular actions were then turned into algorithms.
"Two people can take on the roles of the video game character and the player, showing how the character should respond by acting out the movements themselves," explained Dr Marco Gillies from the Department of Computing.
"The software enables video games characters to move in a more natural way, responding to the player's own body language rather than mathematical rules."
Mr Gillies hopes that by putting the programming in the hands of those with advanced body awareness, rather than computer experts, a new level of realism will be brought to interactive characters.
The actors, he said, are able to teach the software "the kinds of everyday movements, that we do unconsciously, which make them hard to program in the conventional way."
Of course, motion capture is already used to gather realistic movements for sports games like Fifa, and British actress Camilla Luddington was recently hired by Square Enix to play the new Lara Croft.
However, it is the interactive element of this new motion capture technique that impressed Goldsmiths student Max Bye when he tried out the software.
"When I laughed at it, it would walk away disappointed, so that worked very well," he said.
The team hopes that as a result of this research games will become "more emotionally complex and able to respond to more subtle social nuances of human behaviour".