Using CGI to enhance entertainment is nothing new—at least relatively speaking. However, since it is used, at least to some degree, in almost every blockbuster movie and realistic video game, the technology could seriously use an upgrade.
Fortunately, that is exactly what computer graphics company Cubic Motion has in mind. Their new Persona system allows animators to convert the performance of a human actor into a lifelike CGI character in real-time. The tech could allow future film and video game makers to create even more immersive games while also bringing to life things like virtual doctor visits or future fitness trainers.
Real-Time Identity Theft
Most people likely won’t recognize the name Cubic Motion. However, plenty should know the titles made possible with its technology. Hit games like “God of War,” “Spider-Man,” and “Anthem” all feature facial-mapping technology from the company.
Its newest innovation, Persona, improves on the long-used method of creating CGI characters. Currently, animators attach a series of markers along select points of an actor’s body. These look like ping-pong balls or green dots and allow cameras to track his or her movement throughout 3D space. From there, computers can recreate a rough digital model of the character.
Unfortunately, this method is lacking. Indeed, after creating the model, animators still need to manually fill in the things that markers can’t track. This includes everything from entire eyes to minor tongue movements. That’s where Persona comes in.
Rather than using markers, Persona features a helmet-mounted camera capture system. This allows for real-time tracking that can instantly transform an actor’s performance into a digital avatar. Persona runs at a rapid 60 frames per second thanks to extremely powerful machine learning algorithms and creates near lifelike animations without the need for manual edits.
Picture Perfect Implications
Some of Persona’s benefits are easy to picture. Of course, the technology will be very useful for video games and film to create characters that bridge the gap between digital and reality.
As said by Cubic Motion president Andy Wood, “If you can capture the essence of a human being, and digitally transfer that onto a digital character or double, it’s like a transference of the soul.”
However, that isn’t where the uses stop. In the vein of “Ready Player One,” some believe Persona could allow everyday players to insert a lifelike (or altered) avatar of themselves into a game. Imagine playing something like “Skyrim” in VR with a fantasy-style doppelganger as an avatar.
Meanwhile, others hope Persona could be used for more practical things. For one, it could power a fitness program where a user’s own avatar coaches them from 12 months in the future after sticking with the program and now being slimmer, toned, and healthier.
Since Persona is still in its infancy, it’s impossible to tell exactly how it will impact the world. However, it goes without saying that technology like this is going to heavily influence a new age of CGI animation. Gamers, movie-lovers, and aspiring fitness junkies alike should certainly be excited by the tech.