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  • Tue 20 Feb 2007

    Post-processing actors’ emotions

    Published at 22:04   Category Virtual Reality  

    This article, found through /., talks about the increasing manipulation of actors expressions:

    In the “before” shot Jennifer Connolly, the leading lady, was shown talking on her mobile phone. The digitally manipulated “after” shot showed her talking on her mobile phone with a tear rolling down her cheek. (…)
    “Acting is all about honesty, but something like this makes what you see on screen a dishonest moment,” said a leading technician. “Everyone feels a bit dirty about it.”

    Visual effects experts privately admit to changing actors’ expressions: opening or closing eyes; making a limp more convincing; removing breathing signs; eradicating blinking eyelids from a lingering gaze; or splicing together different takes of an unsuccessful love scene to produce one in which both parties look like they are enjoying themselves. (…)
    “It’s cheaper than reshooting a scene.” (…)

    Some actors such as Tom Cruise have begun to write clauses into their contracts granting them full control of their own digital assets, Mr Okun said. “They are saying: if you make me look better, then it’s fine. But if you are dealing with the subtleties of a dramatic performance it’s not fine.”

    Movie editing, image manipulation, in the end it all depends on what is your goal when making a movie or a photography. My vision of the director is that he’s creating a story, and that everything that serves this story is valid.

    When you go to see a movie you know there will be some sort of special effects. Actors manipulation shouldn’t be surprising, it is just one logical step. Nowadays nobody is surprised that a stuntsman is replacing the main actor. To me it’s the same degree of manipulating what people believe is reality.

    If you want to see honesty, imperfection, flesh and sweat, you still have to option to go to a real theater, or better, improvisation battles.
    What about photography? Great photographers manipulated their photos in their darkroom, serving their vision.
    If your goal is to capture reality, then don’t make any editing and say it. On the other hand if you want to inspire a feeling that’s nearly impossible to catch, or an atmosphere that you can’t achieve, or simply make the image you have in mind, my opinion is that you can manipulate an image as much as you want. But you have to be honest about it and publish your image with a manipulation disclaimer.

    Still I think an unmanipulated photo or movie has more impact. At first I thought that Sony Bravia ads were full of cg pictures, When I learned that they were shot with real balls and real paint it struck me much more!
    Another example is this photo by Damien Doumax (and my parodic “copy”):

    It’s a clever use of long exposition and light, and it’s unmanipulated (appart from tone and contrast manipulation). How much more do you appreciate it knowing it’s all real ?

    That’s the reason why, even being a VR geek, I’ll always prefer reality ;)
    Related articles: The advent of digital actors, Prey Alone, Digital movie making : Machinima = machine + cinema

    Mon 19 Feb 2007

    Sony Patent for a VR Glove

    Published at 14:12   Category VR Devices, Virtual Reality DIY  

    From MaxConsole :

    A patent filed by Sony on November 7 2002 went live on January 9 of this year. The patent describes some sort of VR GLOVE which fits in the palm of the hand. Control sensors are mounted in the ‘fingers’ extending from the focus, corresponding to each finger. It also seems to be motion and tilt sensitive with pressure sensitive functions too!

    From the patent :

    One of the shortcomings with the gloves is that manufacturers are finding that consumers do not like to wear a glove for entertainment applications. (…)

    Another solution being offered as an alternative input device is computer vision systems. However, computer vision systems are limited in their applications for the entertainment environment. Computer vision systems do not provide for tactile feedback and are limited by lighting conditions. Furthermore, computer vision systems have the problem of “address”, i.e., the question of whether the gesture is intended for the computer. Also, parameters are inferred and hence are potentially inaccurate. In addition, the input device must be within view of a camera. Still another disadvantage of computer vision systems is that some gestures are self-occluding and are difficult to interpret.
    Broadly speaking, the present invention fills these needs by providing an input device configured to be held by a user. It should be appreciated that the present invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as an apparatus, a method, a process, a system, program instructions or a device.

    I’m not used to read patents, but it seems very broad to me and I fail to see the novelty. Appart maybe from the fact that it is heald and not attached, and the tactile feedback (which btw may be an evolution of the A.R.T FingerTracking ).

    Does this patent threatens the existence of any VR Glove ?

    Tue 13 Feb 2007

    Another world, another time

    Published at 23:53   Category Game, Game development  

    Tonight I went to a conference organized by the french chapter of the International Game Developpers Association, about old school game development. Invited were Philippe ULRICH et Didier BOUCHON, from ERE Informatique, authors of some mythical games like Captain Blood, and Eric CHAHI, author of Another World (Out of this world).

    Mr Ulrich, Mr Bouchon and Mr Chahi

    Mr Chahi is a sort of hero for me. He created Another World alone, at 22, for two years. When I first played his game on my Amiga, I remember getting a shock. This game was like nothing else I had already seen, both on the graphics and the game play point of view. Sometime after that, I locked myself in my teenage room for 1 month to program my first game, a bomberman clone in C and asm on PC.

    15 years later, Another World is going out again, with improved graphics. I bought it, and it brings back a lot of memories. I was really happy to hear about this conference, and surprised to meet Mr Chahi at the entrance of the building as he arrived. As I instantly recognised him from the making-of videos included with the new Another World edition, I chatted with him a bit.

    This and all the talking of the evening was really interesting. They all shared stories of the past, of these glorious days of games, and their thoughts about the state of the gaming industry.

    Mr Ulrich was particularly disappointed by the lack of courage of investors and game developers. He thinks that risks should be taken, and that being successful is a very relative thing. Even if you make successful games your company can (and for him did on some occasions) close its doors, or fire you. So just step back and get back to work! He was particularly bitter about games (and music) being marketing driven, rather than creative driven. Going the creative route is a risky way, but very much worth it according to him. He also points out that finding funds nowadays is quite easy.
    He also mentioned that it’s not because you sell lots of copies that you will make more money than an independent game that sells 10x less. How much you spent on marketing is too much? Word of mouth costs nothing.

    Mr Bouchon, whom I had already met twice (one of which being this afternoon…) without knowing who he was, shared the story of the creation of Captain Blood. It was not a predefined idea, but rather a collection of ideas and piece of code put together to create a game “we were not even sure people could finish” !

    Mr Chahi had an interesting memory about the financing of his games during those days. The money given by the publisher for one game would be used to finance the next game. The publisher wouldn’t invest any money, and the programmer was free of any pressure, and could create the game he wanted. The only pressure were material, of course, some day the money runs out! Another World was already his 10th game. He adds that he prefers working alone or with small teams, because creativity is improved. He is now involved in the creation of a new game (maybe PC/Wii) but he wouldn’t talk about it.
    If you’re interested in the creation process of Another World, go buy a copy of the new edition, the making-of is particularly interesting (in french only I guess), or go here.

    This may sound cheesy but I even have an autograph :p

    Tue 13 Feb 2007

    Laval Virtual – Conferences

    Published at 13:51   Category Virtual Reality  

    From the official page :

    At Laval Virtual 2007, 4 major themes will be highlighted:

    • Envision the risk to save
      (Wednesday April 18th – contact : VRIC07-risk@laval-virtual.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

    This full day symposium will introduce the last technical and scientific projections of virtual reality in the fields of: Prevention of the risks (natural or medical disasters, terrorism…), Simulation of scenarios of exit of crisis, Evacuation of people, Environmental risks, intelligent agents use in virtual environments…

    • VR & Human Behavior
      (Thursday April 19th – contact : VRIC07-behavior@laval-virtual.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

    This full day symposium is dedicated to the contribution of Virtual Reality to the field of Human Behavior, and to the multiple applications that emerged with objectives of understanding, measure or treatment. Disciplines covered include: Virtual Reality; Addiction; Emotion; Conditioning; Cue exposure; Measures (e.g. psychophysiology, behavior, or performance); Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Cognitive Rehabilitation; etc. In a general way, we expect contributions dedicated to therapeutic applications of Virtual Reality.

    • Virtually exploring our landscape through the time
      (Thursday April 19th – contact : VRIC07-landscape@laval-virtual.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

    This one day symposium will present the last technical and scientific projections of virtual reality in the fields: Virtualized earth & countries; Visualization of disappeared, present or future places; Urban simulations; Simulation of events of the past; traveling without moving; traveling in time and space…

    • V&A Reality: break the deadlocks
      (Friday April 20th – contact : VRIC07-deadlocks@laval-virtual.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )

    Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality allow the creation of fascinating new types of user interfaces. The field is highly interdisciplinary, bringing together computer vision, computer graphics, user interfaces, human factors etc. Despite much progress in the basic enabling technologies, major obstacles are still limiting the wider use and acceptation of mixed systems. This symposium aims at analyzing these deadlocks. Papers that fall into the following categories are welcome: haptic feedback in mixed-reality environments/human-computer interaction/human factors/photo-realistic rendering/modeling and enforcing physical interaction constraints between real and virtual objects (vision based modeling, handling occlusion,..).

    Tue 13 Feb 2007

    ESC Video

    Published at 10:10   Category 3d  

    Here’s a really nice video by Justin Henton called ESC :

    Inside a 3D program a mouse cursor creates a 3-dimensional character that comes to life after an unknown error in the program and gets into a journey across the computer desktop

    Esc is my student film completed in 8 months at Emily Carr Institute.

    YouTube Preview Image
    Fri 9 Feb 2007


    Published at 13:16   Category 3d  

    Teapotters is to 3D what Flickr is to pictures. You can interactively look at 3D models, post your own models, assign tags, apply different shaders, and download the file if needed. You can also embed the player to show a particular model on your blog for example ;)

    Teapotter uses the Virtools 3D Life Player (formerly known as the web player).

    It’s still in private beta, [but I'm told it's easily accessible, and you can see/download the 3d models without having to sign up]. Here’s the official presentation video :

    YouTube Preview Image
    Fri 9 Feb 2007

    The story behind the Trimersion HMD

    Published at 0:38   Category VR Displays  

    [Update Oct 2008: The company seems to be dead now...]

    [Update Oct 2009: Worse, they are now being sued by their investors !! See comments]

    When I learned that eMagin increased their prices, I went back to look for other consumer HMDs. I contacted the makers of the Trimersion to know more about their tracking options.

    Bob Ladrach, President and Chief Operating Officer of 3001 AD, makers of the Trimersion, answered me. He’s quite a VR geek too as you’ll see ;) He shares his insight about the beginnings of the HMD and his thoughts about VR …

    Read more…

    Mon 5 Feb 2007

    Virtual World Has Billions of Residents

    Published at 14:24   Category Metaverse  

    Through Terra Nova, a funny article at GameSpot about a new MMO : Real Life.

    Real life isn’t above reproach. In one of the stranger design decisions in the game, for some reason you have no choice in determining your character’s initial starting location, appearance, or gender, which are chosen for you seemingly at random. (…) Real life features a great system whereby newbie players will automatically be guided along through the early levels by one or more “parent” characters who elect to take newbie characters under their wing. (…)

    Player death is a serious issue in real life, and cause for continued debate among players, who often direct unanswerable questions on the subject to the game’s developers, who are apparently (and understandably) so busy that they generally keep silent. In short, players who die–at the hands of other players, by the occasional environmental hazard, or when their account expires–are essentially removed from the gameworld and apparently cannot return at all.

    Fri 2 Feb 2007

    VR to create a new communication form

    Published at 14:21   Category VR Applications  

    There’s an interesting set of articles at Edge,  about why some of the greatest minds of this planet are optimistic.

    Jaron Lanier thinks that Interpersonal Communication Will Become More Profound” thanks to VR :

    I’ve been fascinated by the potential for “Post-symbolic Communication” for many years.  (…)  Suppose you’re enjoying an advanced future implementation of Virtual Reality and you can cause spontaneously designed things to appear and act and interact with the ease of sentences pouring forth during an ordinary conversation today. (…) Some of the most interesting data from VR research thus far involve Homuncular Flexibility. It turns out that the human brain can learn to control radically different bodies with remarkable ease. That means that people might eventually learn to spontaneously change what’s going on in a virtual world by becoming parts of it. (…)

    Imagine a means of expression that is a cross between the three great new art forms of the 20th century: jazz improvisation, computer programming, and cinema. Suppose you could improvise anything that could be seen in a movie with the speed and facility of a jazz improviser. What would that mean for the sense of connection between you and someone you love?

    Fri 2 Feb 2007


    Published at 10:08   Category 3d, VR Displays  

    Interesting technique to see depth in images, the lenticulation. It seems all you have to do is take 3 offseted pictures. Amazing =) Does anybody know how to build/buy one of those camera?