Do you feel in control of the body that you see? This is an important question in virtual reality (VR) as it highly impacts the user’s sensation of presence and embodiment of an avatar representation while immersed in a virtual environment. To better understand this aspect, we performed an experiment in the framework of the VR-Together project to assess the relative impact of different levels of body animation fidelity to presence.
In this experiment, the users are equipped with a motion capture suit and reflective markers to track their movements in real time with a Vicon optical motion capture system. They also wear Manus VR gloves for fingers tracking and an Oculus HMD. At each trial, the face (eye gaze and mouth), fingers and the avatar’s upper and lower bodies are manipulated with different degree of animation fidelity, such as no animation, procedural animation and motion capture. Each time, users have to execute a number of tasks (walk, grab an object, speak in front of a mirror) and to evaluate if they are in control of their body. Users start with the simplest setting and, according to the judged priority, improve features of the avatar animation until they are satisfied with the experience of control.
Using the order in which users improve the movement features, we can assert on the most valuable animation features to the users. With this experiment, we want to confront the relative importance of animation features with the costs of adoption (monetary and effort) to provide software and use guidelines for live 3D rigged character mesh animation based on affordable hardware. This outcome will be useful to better define what makes a compelling social VR experience.
Artanim collaborated with Entropy Studio on the shooting of the first pilot of the VR-Together project. After a short flight from Madrid to Geneva, the actors were 3D scanned with our photogrammetric scanner consisting of 96 cameras, to obtain the 3D surface of their body. Steve Galache (known for his work on The Vampire in the Hole, 2010; El cosmonauta, 2013; and Muertos comunes, 2004), Jonathan David Mellor (known for The Wine of Summer, 2013; Refugiados, 2014; and [Rec]², 2009) and Almudena Calvo were the main characters of this first experience. They were dressed the same way as in the shooting scene.
The shooting was split over two days. The first day was dedicated to shoot the actors in costumes on a complete chroma background with a stereo-camera. This will allow the creation of photoreal stereo-billboards that will be integrated in a full CG-environment. The second day of shooting was focused on full performance capture of the actors. Each equipped with 59 retro-reflective markers and an head-mounted iPhone X, the actors were able to perform the investigation plot (an interrogatory scene) with success. These data will later be used to animate the 3D models of the actors generated from the 3D scans. These full-CG models will be finally integrated in the same virtual environment.
This pilot project will thus offer two different rendering modalities for real actors (stereo-bilboard and CG characters). The impact of both techniques will be studied through user studies with an eye on social presence and immersion.
Artanim just added a new tool to its motion capture equipment: the Optitrack Insight VCS, a professional virtual camera system. From now on, everyone doing motion capture at Artanim will be able to step into the virtual set, preview or record real camera movement and find the best angles to view the current scene.
The motion capture data captured by our Vicon system is processed in real time in MotionBuilder and displayed on the camera monitor. The position of MotionBuilder’s virtual camera is updated by the position of the reflective markers on the camera rig. In addition, the camera operator can control several parameters such as the camera zoom, horizontal panning, etc. The rig itself is very flexible and can be modified to accommodate different shooting styles (shoulder-mounted, hand-held, etc.).
We can’t wait to use it in future motion capture sessions and show you some results. Meanwhile, you can have a look at our first tests in the above video.
We were recently contacted to perform the motion capture for an upcoming short movie entitled “The Great Imitator” created by Boris Beer. This short animated movie will be a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. Without giving too much details, the goal of the shooting was to capture some iconic scenes of Chaplin’s most famous movies.
For example, the first scene we captured was the one from The Great Dictator where Chaplin plays with an inflatable globe. We also had to capture the famous nut screwing scene from Modern Times as well as some scenes from The Kid. Fabrice Bessire (the actor) did a great job reinterpreting Chaplin in those scenes.
Finally, among the selected scenes was the famous “Bread roll dance” from The Gold Rush. In this scene, Charlie Chaplin creates a small ballet by giving life to two forks and two bread roll in order to entertain his friends. As you can see on the pictures, this capture required a very specific and unique bread motion capture setup (patent pending!).
We will talk again about this short film when it will be finished. Stay tuned!
Last week we tested the motion capture protocol for the research project Motion and unconsciousness. The setup is uncommon: subjects are asked to execute movements in the dark while still being able to see the other participant’s hands thanks to phosphorescent tape. They are also equipped with a respiration sensor and headphones with white noise to be isolated from external stimuli.
100 volunteers will participate to the study and be distributed in different groups according to specific criteria. One group will also be captured with simultaneous EEG recording. The goal of the project is to compare the subjective sensation of synchrony with objective data of motor coordination and synchronization acquired from motion capture when two people are engaged in joint action tasks.
In the context of our project Shoulder3D, we spent a day in radiology to acquire specific data required for the validation of our research methodology. The objective of the project is to develop a new kinematic model to reliably evaluate the three-dimensional motion of the shoulder based on motion capture data. In order to compare the kinematics estimated by our methodology with the real motion of the shoulder bones, we performed a double acquisition. We simultaneously recorded motion capture data using our Vicon system and fluoroscopic images.
As you can see on the pictures below, setting up properly the system in such a confine area and dealing with the occlusions of the fluoroscopic device were the tricky parts of our work!