Research & Project Updates – 2020 #13

This week I was under the weather for a few days but got a bunch done regardless. On the character creation class here is the final link: http://www.mdhopkins.net/virus-ara-prototype/

On my thesis project, I finished my to do list. I adjusted the characters arm for the normal pose and sad pose. I had issue with the user voice search. It ended up being the index changing in the list. I swapped it out for a dictionary and reworked the code to get it to work. Another issue, was when it had to pick another story to tell, it would cause and error. I needed to set the sentence ID to 0. The last major fix was the issue with the head rotation in late update. I updated the animations so there is blending between it all but the head would snap when locking onto the user. Found help on the Unity forums. I had to create another rotation var in the start() and then call it again. All the original code worked as well. As of now, I need to do some long run testings aka over night testing for idle to see if it breaks. Hopefully it all works as intended. After that I am not sure what is left, I could do more voices with different emotions for the different moods but I am not sure how the writting would be. To be honest, I am gatekeeping this project because it is on the home stretch now…

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #12

Not much images this week but my thesis project is starting to wrap up. All audio and lipsync is done and imported within the scene. I believe what is left is testing, polishing, and maybe adding some animations here and there. I am quite excited to see it come to an end and see it come together in a physical space…one day hopefully soon.

The character creation is pretty much done. I am waiting to see what are the final requirements for renders. If what I have is good or if it needs to be in Unity or UE4 which isn’t hard to do.

 

 

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #11

The stuff I worked on this week: Character creation, Thesis project, and personal project.

Character Creation, I messed with textures and made sure the hi res was done. Here is an image:

Thesis Project:

I fixed some bugs during test. I am still polishing but also working on the audio and lipsync. I realize how difficult it is to blend the sound to make it feel right. I am still not sure of my voice with it but I think it adds to the piece.

Personal Project:

I worked on a Winchester Rifle for fun. I was hoping to finish most of it in a weekend but I had to put it on the side for a bit. I returned to it and did a quick texture test and bake. There are some issues still but its not bad! As it stands, it is about 3,600k polys. I will come back to it and finish it up once I get time. Most likely after graduation.

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #10

This week I worked on the character creation class. I am at the point of finishing up the detail work in zbrush and bringing it into substance Painter. As for the project, I fell behind and did not get the audio recorded yet but all the code is working. Just need to add in the content. On top of it, I finished the family canvas image and added into the project. One less thing done. Here are some of the weeks work screenshots:

 

Quick testing: more to come –

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #9

This week I finished up the character retopo and uving. I made sure I brought it into zBrush and re projected. I am looking forward to texturing the creature.


For my thesis project, the major struggle to finish the code is now done. The only real test left for it is to use the kinect and see if there are any bugs. I am guessing the only thing that could would be the switch when it check if a person is present or not. The rest should work pretty good. I’m actually excited to move on and start doing the audio and animations. My mind is burnt from this rewrite… Here is all the functions that are required to make the magic happen.

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #6

This week I worked on re-working the story and the character responder script. The main reason for the change was the complexity and scope of the project. Now, the project is easier to work on without the fear of fall too fear behind. Here is the algorithm: I made for the AI.

I am about 50%-65% done. All of isIdle is true is done. On the false side, I got the main run with random sentence selecting working. I have a plan to combine everything which should speed up the workflow to finish this. Hopefully next week, I can finish the code up and move on to the next part which would be recording the audio.

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #3

This week I have worked on fixing some locking bugs. I got lipsync, audio, and animation to work with the storyID. I have a method developed and now have to implement it into the project. I am expecting a couple of hours to work it out. The major issue right now is locking the system so it does not loop but rather wait until it is finished animating.

 

Character Creation:

I worked on the base mesh. I am pretty happy with the overall character. I need to rework the torso and armor shapes but it is going in the right direction.

 

Research & Project Updates – 2020 #2

Concept art for character creation course:

 

Studio To Do List:

  • Designer find some free fx sounds
  • Art – 3 Canvas photos
  • Programming – Content adding in Keywords and expressions
  • Programming – Fix random switcher for response
  • Programming – Add mood responses
  • Writing – polish current work and add in mumbling
  • Matt – Animator state creating and audio | AUDIO voices

Set design sketch (ROUGH) for the installation: 

 

This week I will be focusing on trying to get some type of demo voice for the character done. I am not quite sure what he will sound like but I will be voicing him. Hopefully I can a few done to start work on the state machine. I am hoping it will go smooth considering the time and effect we put in last semester. It will be exciting to see the character to finally talk…

Thesis I – Project Blog 10

Lipsync and eye controller added. All blendshapes are done. I wish to add wrinkle maps but currently that has been put on the back burner. Head turns, eyes blink, and lipsync shapes is about 50% done


Working on a procedural car generator. Although I will be reworking the concept to incorporate multiple curves and use sweep or rails.


Background

                        Theme parks are places where families go to let loose and be entertained. They are full of creative art pieces from the overall themes to the attractions themselves. Many artists, designers, and engineers has spent years working on designs to immerse audiences. A great an example is at Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure. There is an area that is dedicated to the Harry Potter universe. As soon as you walk through the entrance, you are immediately immersed. Everything from the ground, the buildings, the shops, sounds and the rides are designed in a way to mimic the books and movies. Places like this can ignite and spark creativity. For me, was the place that inspired my project.

Anyone who has visited any amusement park or resort will agree waiting in line is part of the experience. Knowing this, creatives who build the attractions, design sets that try to distract you from the wait time. One environment that stood out to me was in the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Orlando. As you make your way through Hogwarts Castle, you come to a room with a tall ceiling. Within this room are paintings that are assorted on walls above the visitors. If one stood and observed, they would notice these portraits are not ordinary paintings but are animated. They move and talk among themselves. Fooling the visitors into believe they are alive. Seeing this I was amazed. Not only by the presentation and immersion but how people, including myself, were reacting. Visitors were standing around watching and interested in the character, but as they returned, they already knew what to expect. They have lived the experienced. The immersion fell apart because of the repetitions and limited interactions. This problem led me down a tunnel of questions. What would take this concept to another level? What if the paintings saw a person? Or if they responded back to the visitors? What if they would drove a story so each person would have a unique experience every time they visited? How would the audience react? Would they feel for the character? These questions brought my project to life.

Designing my project, I knew I desired to have a painting that could interact with the audience. I wanted a character that would be able to seek and determine the presentence of a person and try to communicate with that person. My curiously lead me to see if I could develop an interaction that could allow individuals to emotionally connect with an artificial being. This was a challenge considering the scope of the programming requirements needed and the limitations of the hardware, but I knew it was possible. As I progressed with the project, I started to see something interesting that happened. Each element of the character became more like me. Visually, the character is an old man, but his personality, intentions, expressions and message are mirror of myself. This discovery encouraged me. It gave me the freedom to communicate a message that could directly affect a person emotionally. As well as giving an individual a unique experience with this character. Although I was startled how much of me is within the piece, I have accepted the result. It brought my own mentality and personality to my attention. In turn, allowing myself to design an experience were the audience can create their own thoughts about the character without knowing they actually met a part of myself.

Thesis I – Project Blog 9

Notes from a Houdini Tutorials that I will be referencing to for the final project.

https://www.sidefx.com/tutorials/sci-fi-panel-generator/


Studio:

  • Fix weird depth of field issue. I am guessing its just the focus plane that we are seeing needs less compression.
  • Figure out a fix for the constant confidence level. Problem is if someone speaks, it will stay on the same level. I am guessing I might need to make a variable or an api update.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Intro

The world as we know it is saturated with smart technology. From the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep, we interact and coexist with some sort of A.I. every day. As our relationship with technology deepens, our bond strengthens with these synthetic beings. Ask another person about a digital assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. What would they say about this entity? How would they categorize it? Instinctually, they would give it a human-like characteristics, and traits. Almost humanizing the A.I. that they are interacting with. The term for this phenomenon is called anthropomorphism. To anthropomorphize is to give “human characteristics to animals, inanimate objects or natural phenomena.” (Nauert) This action, to humanize, is a way for humans to comprehend and predict another’s intentions, and behavior. Such as with any piece of technology we interact with, we instinctually humanize it. Inadvertently, leaving a digital fingerprint of ourselves with it. Whether it’s an image or text. we project ourselves on this object. As in my project, I crafted a character that representations what I believe is a piece of my personality. Even as I tried to stay unbiased in creating many different variations, the character within the piece still has properties that speak to me. Every animation, color, model, and sound are part of my psyche that is imprinted within the work. The combination of these elements are what I would call my avatar.

This piece of art is my voice that I am presenting to the audience. As an artist, I like to stand back and observe viewers as they interact with my work. Having the portrait act as my avatar gives me that freedom. It allows me to speak through a different voice as if I put a mask on. Cloaking my actual identity and distancing myself yet allowing me to portray my message to them. I believe anthropomorphizing the portrait painting will influence the viewer intensifying the connection with the character. Even though they know he is a digital being, they will comprehend him as being real. With this belief, the viewer should unconsciously emotionally and curiously explore what he has to say, or rather what I might have to say.