Paul Debevec: “From Spider-Man to Avatar, Emily to Benjamin: Achieving Photoreal Digital Actors”

April 22, 2013 | Paris, France

Speaker: Paul Debevec

Abstract: Somewhere between Final Fantasy in 2001 and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008, digital actors crossed the “Uncanny Valley” from looking strangely synthetic to believably real. I will describe some of the key technological advances which have enabled this achievement. Two technologies from our laboratory, High Dynamic Range Lighting and the Light Stage facial capture systems, have been used in creating realistic digital characters in movies such as Spider-Man 2, Superman Returns, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Avatar. For an in-depth example, I will describe how high-resolution face scanning, advanced character rigging, and performance-driven facial animation were combined to create “Digital Emily”, a collaboration between our laboratory and Image Metrics. Actress Emily O’Brien was scanned in Light Stage 5 in 33 facial poses at the resolution of skin pores and fine wrinkles. These scans were assembled into a rigged face model driven by Image Metrics’ video-based animation software, and the resulting photoreal facial animation premiered at SIGGRAPH 2008. I will also present a 3D Teleconferencing system which uses live facial scanning and an autostereoscopic display to transmit a person’s face in 3D and make eye contact with remote collaborators, and a new head-mounted facial performance capture system based on photometric stereo.