A eye-catching VR demonstration at SIGGRAPH last week displayed the very latest capabilities in human facial capture.
Mike Seymour from fxguide donned a facial capture rig and communicated with a series of interview subjects over the course of the computer graphics conference. Seymour’s visage was transferred onto an avatar in real-time and a highly realistic digital version of him interviewed the subject while the interviewee wore a VR headset. Producing the mixed reality experience was said to be “nine high-end graphics computers run synced versions of Unreal Engine allowing for the highest quality real-time digital human avatars.”
The demonstration was said to be a research projects aimed at providing insight into digital humans and what it takes for people to accept them. The “uncanny valley” is an increasingly widely understood concept wherein digitally recreating a human can have a jarring effect on viewers even as the detail of the avatar increases. Humans are able to detect incredible subtlety in faces and despite the amount of detail imparted upon the digital version of Seymour, he definitely fell into a kind of uncanny valley. Nonetheless, Seymour could be seen on stage wearing his facial rig at the entrance to the VR Village area of SIGGRAPH shown alongside his digital doppelganger. For me, the knowledge that his digital visage is essentially being brought to life by Seymour in real-time may have helped me accept his avatar a little more.