Digital Creators at DLD07 conference: Image Metrics
Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007
In the Digital Creators program set, first we listened to the presentation from Image Metrics. Awesome! Especially in light of the short film on Gollum (one of the extras on Two Towers) I watched two days ago: here you can see Andy Serkis, the Gollum actor all covered in markers, prosthetics etc. The schizophrenic Gollum scene is showing Andy’s face, and Gollum’s face is precisely copying the actor’s facial movements.
Now what Image Metrics is doing is something like this: actually copying the most subtle facial movements of actors/ actresses, but within 20 minutes, but without any markers, and even tracking and transferring the eye movements (which is particularly important as obviously eyes cannot be tagged with markers). So Image Metrics offers performance driven animation: no stage, no hassle, no markers, no prosthetics, can be taken to any kind of characters (e.g. on a teddy bear too). They have a staggering tool which is capable of automatically transferring live or recorded facial movements, characterized by the New York Times as the ‘new technology that captures the soul.” As Andy Wood from the California-based company was saying “this tool provides a level of subtlety and realism that no other methods can.”
For a few moments, Marylin Monroe also came to live (facial movements ‘stolen’ new texts given into her mouth, and based on the store of facial movements, new pieces made…. christ, you can so easily make controversial obituaries, non-existent family scenes to fill in emotional gaps).
There is also live action capture, they work also in video games (just think of Zidane: in game face cretion technology e.g. soccer game, footballers getting angry with the referee, or with each other), they can also track the profiles of faces, this method can also be used in medical fields, like instantenously comparing two x-ray photos for ostheoporosis etc. etc.
The only thing that bothered me in Andy Wood’s keynote was the videoshot used as an Image Metrics ad, a frame for the keynote, a mantra, a hypnotizing-shouting scene of a digital black warrior whose ‘face’ acted by two different actors in turns (one black and one white) who is yelling in a dictator-style ‘I have seen the future …. and the future is Image Metrics.’ To be honest, I did not find it funny, I think it was threatening, which should not be – after all enough people will find this method threatening in itself, you do not need to raise fear gripping the butterflies in the belly, and squeezing them.
Great technology, though. Truly revolutionizing, luring creative people.
The other digital creator invited as a speaker was Luc Besson (yes, the Luc Besson) but I suggest watching the interview with him on the DLD aggregator. He is nice, friendly, no sign of a ‘big face’ he could have featured.