VFX trailblazers have brought together virtual production and advanced digital human techniques to the point where directors can now see actors’ facial performances translate flawlessly onto photoreal CG characters in real time on set for feature films. It’s an amazing accomplishment. But what about interactive environments? While users can now go beyond the big screen and directly interact with unique CG characters and digital humans in new virtual worlds, limitations in computing power, poly count, shading models, and rigging complexity in VR and AR production toolsets challenge artists and actors to create virtual characters who not only look believable, but who act and respond believably in interactive situations – an entire arena that feature-film digital humans don’t have to contend with.
Matthias Wittmann, Real-time Supervisor at Method EXP, gives FMX attendees a look at how the state of the art in digital humans for interactive environments is advancing; taking them through work on the VR experience for Lionsgate’s Robin Hood and ongoing R&D. On Robin Hood, artists merged facial performance capture data of the film’s star with full body capture of a body double to serve as the basis for animation of the virtual character, and leveraged the Qualcom headset’s tracking capabilities for natural and intuitive interaction with the virtual character as the user moves through the environment.
Wittmann will also demonstrate the latest advances in Method EXP’s interactive virtual human R&D; a practical, modular, artist-driven approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI). In his talk he’ll look ahead to incorporating computer vision, machine learning and neural networks into the development of virtual humans, and discuss how and why artists’ experience will always be critical to producing reactions that are fitting to real human behavior – a fundamental need in interactive environments.
A recognized digital human pioneer, Matthias worked in the film industry for 15 years as an animator and supervisor on groundbreaking digital humans for features including the VFX Academy-Award-winning Curious Case of Benjamin Button as well as I, Robot, Tron: Legacy, and Maleficent, and was part of the team that created the appearance of ‘virtual Tupac’ at Coachella. He now specializes in developing interactive virtual humans for VR and AR working exclusively with real-time engines. Before joining Method EXP Matthias was a VR/VFX Supervisor at MPC, working on cutting edge VR experiences such as “Alien: Covenant – In Utero” and “Passengers – Awakening.” He has also held leadership creative and development roles at Digital Domain, IM360 and DAQRI. Matthias is a graduate of Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Home to exceptional artists and technologists, Method Studios, a Deluxe company, is an award-winning global content company working with top creators on movies, TV/streaming, advertising, marketing and interactive experiences. Its network of integrated facilities provides a full range of services including concepts, design, pre-vis, look development, on-set supervision, 3D animation/CGI, motion graphics, compositing, and finishing; and through Method EXP, AR/VR/MR experiences and technology.
Method’s unique approach combining traditional filmmaking techniques with the most sophisticated digital technologies has helped build the company’s reputation for offering smart, cutting-edge solutions and above all, well-crafted work, for two decades.