Lifelike Animation Heralds New Era for Video Games

Extraordinarily lifelike characters may soon begin appearing in films and computer games thanks to a new type of animation technology.

"Emily," the woman in this animation, was produced using a new modeling technology that enables the most minute details of a facial expression to be captured and recreated.

She's considered to be one of the first animations to have overleapt a long-standing barrier known as the "uncanny valley," or the perception that animation looks less realistic the more it approaches human likeness.

Researchers at Image Metrics, which is based in both England and California and makes computer-generated imagery for Hollywood movies, started with a video of an employee talking.

They then broke down her facial movements into dozens of smaller movements, each of which was given a "control system."

The team, which produced animation for some of the "Grand Theft Auto" video games, then recreated the gestures, movement by movement, in a computer model.

The aim was to overcome the traditional difficulties of animating a human face -- for instance, that the skin looks too shiny, or that the movements are too symmetrical.

• Click here to read the rest of this story at the Times of London.

• Click here to watch more animations at the Image Metrics Web site.

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