Thesis I – Project Blog 6

Below are the screenshots of my procedural bridge for procedural art course. This bridge has numerous parameter which can be edited in Unreal. The curve which determines the bridges length can be moved as well. Extended or shrunk. I did noticed Houdini seems to be buggy at times and crashes. UVing is going to prove difficult but I shall see. Hopefully it all comes out well.


Defense 3: Uncanny Valley

As artists, designers, and creators, we often to explore the boundaries of our art. Traversing through different type of styles in search of what calls to us. Nevertheless, an artist will sooner or later stumble upon the style of realism. Realism in art can be defined as “the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization”. (Merriam-Webster) The desire to create accurate representations of real life has no doubly changed the way we think and interact with digital art in the last couple of decades. Visuals in movies has been inching closer to visually mimicking life. Robotic customer support has progressed in mimicking human voice and expressions. These advancements in technology is remarkable but there is a problem with achieving visual realism. Humans have a high awareness and understanding in recognizing differences between living and non-living. (Angela Tinwell)

As humans are social beings, we are driving by social cues. With these cues, we are aware and can make predictions about interactions we might come across. If these cues are disrupted, mismatched, or inconsistent, we will spot them. Visually speaking, as we increase the realism, the more the information we receive. With the increase of information, the greater chance of error will be spotted. Creating a sense of eeriness or disgust. (Pollick) This phenomenon is called the uncanny valley.

In 1970, the Japanese professor and robotics, Dr. Masahiro Mori, discovered (Hsu) (Pollick) that as an object, such as an robot or a digital character, becomes more humanlike or anthropomorphic, it’s attraction will increase until a point in which there is a drastic negative effect. (Pollick) Examples of objects that lie within the uncanny valley, as Dr. Mori included, was corpse, prosthetics limbs and zombies. (Angela Tinwell) When a viewer experiences the phenomenon, they will feel an eerie sensation, uneased and/or feel disgusted. (Rouse) To avoid such symptoms, Dr. Mori, suggested designer to work until the first peak of the uncanny valley and not to seek out the second peak. (Angela Tinwell) Despite his suggestions, artists have striding to achieve the second peak. Films such as Tin Toy (Hsu), Final Fantasy (Pollick), and The Polar Express (Jakub A. Zlotowski) have failed because of the reactions were negative due to them falling into the valley. Researchers have been studying on what causes this phenomenon. No one is exactly sure what trigger this effect, but multiple hypothesis has been created and might explain why we can experience this phenomenon.

One concept is a survival instinct to help us avoid pathogens. (Shensheng Wang) Some researchers have speculated that humans evolved to predict and react to minor changes in appearances of others. This feeling disgust is might to avoid people that have diseases and prevent us from such disease. (Hsu) This avoidance could be considered as survival tactic deeming the inconsistences in the anthropomorphic character as repulsive. Another concept that could explain what triggers the uncanny valley is our perceptual processing ability. (Shensheng Wang)

As noted in this paper, we instinctually recognize facial features. We are highly sensitive to this information because of the familiarity of it. Researchers suggest that with this heighten awareness we are attracted to certain physical features, shapes, and the health. If the actor is inconsistent to what we know, we instantly become unattracted to it. (Shensheng Wang) If a voice is mismatched to a face or appearance, can trigger this effect as we expect certain features to relate with one another. Movements can drastically increase the effect. As noted earlier, I explained how important biological movements are to humans. Born with the preference to viewing the motions, are naturally familiar with them. If visual appearance and movements mismatch, the eeriness increases because we are unable to predict the outcome correctly. (Shensheng Wang) This disruption of information causes humans to fail at categorizing the other actor. (Pollick) I noted before if we can not categorize another person or actor, we become uncertain and start to fall back on stereotypes to process and understand them. Most likely relying on features we are familiar with. This concept is interesting as it relates to theory of mind and our social cognitive.

So could the uncanny valley occur because we predict, and try to comprehend everything we observe or interact with? Is it because we are social beings seeking out connections with others? I believe it is all the above. We can assume failure to reach total realism of an anthropomorphic character can cause problems with our ability to predict and comprehend. This inability and failed expectations will cause us to begin to panic and feel nervous but not all characters will fall into uncanny valley. There is research that the more an individual interacts with anthropomorphic characters, even if they are eerie, the more they gradually become more familiar. (Angela Tinwell) This repeating habit could circumvent and reducing the effect of the uncanny valley. As we interact more often with anthropomorphic characters, maybe we our perspective will change, and the valley will shrink. Desensitizing us from noticing the inconsistencies between what is living and nonliving.

Thesis I – Project Blog 4

Below are some videos of the final particle fx for the Procedural Art course. I decided to work on some effects referencing Battlefield 5. The main requirement was to create sprite sheets from Houdini and then make the effect in Unreal 4 engine using cascade. There was some difficulties with crashing and render times but even with those issues, I believe they came out well.



 

I added finish skin weighting the character and he is now imported into the screen. Prior to this, I created a zbrush file for creating blendshapes. Which is my plan to start work on this week.


Defense 1: Theory of Mind

To anthropomorphize something, we humanize that entity. We give it human characteristics, be it emotions, intentions, or thoughts. During that transformation, our brains begin to process and comprehend those distinct human traits. This cognitive process is called Theory of Mind. First reported in an article by psychologist David Premack. (Leslie) It later became a term psychologist use to describe the cognitive process that gives an individual the ability to comprehend another’s emotional and mental statues. This cerebral function starts to develop around age of 3-5. (Cherry) However other research has shown it could develop earlier or could be delayed depending on the individual. This ability to theorize or predict another’s state of mind – thought, emotion, and behaviors, is the most important function for survival for human beings. (Drubach) Being social individuals, we commutate in such a way to comprehend other’s intentions, thoughts, and feelings. (Nauert) As we do this, areas of our brains such as the temporoparietal junction activate. Additionally, anthropomorphizing activates the same area and the more a person anthropomorphizes, the larger the areas of the brain are for Theory of Mind processing. (Atherton) Predicting and theorizing, our brains never rest. Humans continuously try to make sense of everything around them, especially with motions.

Instinctually, we humanize non-human actors to predict their behavior, but we also anthropomorphize motions. Research has shown that processing and recognizing biological motion contributes to the awareness of animacy. (Atherton) Recognizing motion is an instant flow of information which allows humans to predict and identify an actor’s behavior. Humans expect to observe smooth human-like movements as oppose to erratic motions. Researcher also found that early in development, infants prefer biological movements over artificial and by the age of 2, prefer human motion. (Atherton) Example of biological movements would be objects moving in a coherent manner with respect to one another. (Airenti) Using movements alone, we can start to understand actor’s intentions. We interpret the two objects as interacting with one another. As both objects could understand one another. Instantly we begin to anthropomorphize the objects by assigning unique roles to each one. These anthropomorphized motions allow for easier recognition and predictions. It allows humans to theorize about what might the objects do next. As important as biological movement is to Theory of Mind, there is another process we anthropomorphiz to help interpret. This clever process is called facial recognition.

Face processing is part of the cognitive process in which humans can determine what a person is thinking when observing a facial expression. As infants, we naturally develop skills to determine faces and mimic facial expressions. Whether a face is familiar or not, we can immediately tell one face apart from another. As humans develop, this constant stimulus will train a person to specific facial shapes and emotions (Atherton) which enables us to see key differences in faces. An example of anthropomorphizing a face is when we humanize our pets. For this instance, humanizing the face of a pet. They would express anthropomorphizing terms to explain the facial expressions of it. Such as the pet is smiling or happy. We assign them behaviors and emotions. Using such vocabulary helps us instantly recognize the other entity’s status without ever needing to see it in person. This grants us the ability to simulate and mimic the experience using our imagination.

We often use our creativity to dream up anything that our hearts desires and anthropomorphism is a unique part of this. Inadvertently, we trick our brain into believing these non-human entities are other persons. This creates a sense of familiarity and predictability that we know and need. This feeling of ease allows us to use everyday strategies to determine what the other’s motivations are and enables us to predict future behaviors. Humanizing non-human actors can go a long way as anthropomorphism and Theory of Mind triggers the same part of ours brains. Human need predictable communication and environments. We strive to make sense of the purpose of other’s goals. If we are unable to comprehend any situation, we will start to anthropomorphize. As soon as this happens, the humanized situation becomes easier to accept, comprehend and predict.

 

Works Cited

Airenti, Gabriella. "The Development of Anthropomorphism in Interaction: Intersubjectivity, Imagination, and Theory of Mind." (2018). <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231421/>.

Atherton, Gray and Cross, Liam. "Seeing More Than Human: Autism and Anthropomorphic Theory of Mind." (2018). <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932358/>.

Cherry, Kendra. How the Theory of Mind Helps Us Understand Others. 26 July 2019. <https://www.verywellmind.com/theory-of-mind-4176826>.

Drubach, Daniel A. "The Purpose and Neurobiology of Theory of Mind Functions." Blanton-Peale Institute, 18 December 2007. Online.

Leslie, A.M. "Theory of Mind." International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier Ltd, 2001. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/theory-of-mind>.

Nauert, Dr. Rick. PsychCentral. 15 June 2019.

Thompson, Brittany N. Psychology Today. 03 July 2017. Website. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/socioemotional-success/201707/theory-mind-understanding-others-in-social-world>.


 

Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates – 2019 #11

This week, I have been working on more shapes of the head for my 3d digital art course and my thesis. This character will be fully sculpted so I am trying to find a shape I like. As of now, I am leanings towards the second head. (longer skull, and droopy chin) I do like the fourth one day as well but I believe it is too close to Picard from Star Trek. Nevertheless, I will find the shape and go along with it to finish the project.

Thats the Spot!

Thats the Spot!

 

Hardware Components Used

  • 1 Green LED
  • 2 Yellow LED
  • 3 330 Ω Resistors
  • 2 10k Resistors
  • 1 Servo Motor
  • Arduino Uno Board
  • Breadboard
  • 5-volt power
  • Soft Potentiometer
  • Flex sensor
  • Cardboard
  • Ducktape
  • Piezo Buzzer
  • 14 wires

Concept

 

Description:

That’s the Spot! is an interactive game where the interactor controls a servo motor with a soft potentiometer. The motor head collides and bends a flex sensor. As the flex sensor bends, the LEDs will light up from yellow to green. If the interactor discovers the “spot” and holds the position, the piezo buzzer will play a jingle. After the interaction, the system resets and a new spot is selected for a different experience.

As they interact, the interactor should feel determined. They should feel the struggle to find the correct spot to complete the sequence. The personal value of the piece was the challenge of the flex sensor and the board design. Since the breadboard is small, I struggled to create a smooth interaction between the servo and flex sensor. Besides the design, the flex sensor sensitivity is short. I mapped and constrained the values for the interaction to work correctly.

Possible idea for the structure:

I envision this piece as being contained within an acrylic structure with one side being brass. The side of brass would be the interface with the soft pot and LEDs connected too. The rest of the piece would be a clear shell which will allow the interactor to view all the working parts interacting with itself. The style would be a mix of steampunk and sciFi.

To fill the negative space within the shell, there would be a mess of colorful wires. Example: 

 

Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates – 2019 #9

Links to Final Proposal References:

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/GyokN

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/XB1drY

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?195454-quot-Is-this-some-kind-of-bust-quot-my-zbrushworks/page11&p=1216106#post1216106

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?195454-quot-Is-this-some-kind-of-bust-quot-my-zbrush-works&p=1150220&infinite=1#post1150220

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/wOGK9

https://abduzeedo.com/splendid-digital-sculptures-james-w-cain

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?175208-Dishonored-The-Character-Art-(new-images-pg-3-5-6)/page5

https://www.deviantart.com/corderostorm/art/Dishonored-Assassin-Daud-fan-art-625870298

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?175208-Dishonored-The-Character-Art-(new-images-pg-3-5-6)

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/L0VDK

ART JAM – dishonoured wip

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/gW4ZE

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/0Zx5w

 

Some tutorials:

 

Scifi Decal Panels – Substance

SciFi Decal Panels Substance

Software

  • Allegorithmic Substance Designer
  • Unity Engine

Substance Graph

Features

Description:

SciFi Decal Panels is a procedural material created in Substance Designer. With so many features, the material can be used in numerous applications and environments such as space stations/ships, futuristic environments, Decals for ceilings, floors, or walls, etc. The texture is using PBR metalness/roughness workflow and was created with realism in mind.

The goal of the project was to create a “kit” that could be used to help designers speed up detailing a environment with a many different panel decals in a instant. As well as exploring and understanding the use of procedural kits using Substance Designer.

Spotter #7

Spotter #7

 

Hardware Components Used

  • 1 Photo-resistor
  • 2 Green LEDs
  • 1 Cardboard cutout
  • 2 330Ω Resistors
  • 1 10k Resistor
  • 1 Servo Motor
  • Arduino Uno Board
  • Breadboard
  • 5-volt power
  • 11 wires
  • Light

Concept

 

Description:

Spotter#7 is a little cardboard robot endlessly sweeps 180 looking for a friend.  When it finds a friend, it stops and blinks to show that it has spotted the person. If the person moves away fast, it will continue with its path and keep sweeping. If the person remains for longer time and then moves, the robot will shake back and forth in disapproval. After the reaction, it will begin sweeping endlessly to find a friend.

The emotional response expected from this piece is compassion towards the little robot. The personal value of the piece was the challenge of designing the interaction. Originally, it was designed to use a temperature sensor to detect the interaction. Plans changed when the only sensor I had was damaged and I had to rework the piece. I decided to swap out the sensor for a photo-resistor. Even with the redesign, the piece is enjoyable.

Other Technical Information:

This interactive piece is using a servo and a photo-resistor. It requires a spotlight to light the “friend”. Since the lighting is important with this piece, the photo-resistor can be set for either, back lit or front lit, to make it work correctly. The servo motor has a sweep from 0 to 180. The speed of the sweep is randomized after every completed rotation to break up the repetitions of the piece.

Holo-Pods

Holo-PODs

 

Description

Holo-PODs is an immersive experience that uses real-time data of selected locations around the world. A Pod is about 8’ in height and should be built with a radius wide enough to fit one person. Inside the pod, the viewer will be able to see a video playback from the live feed of the 360 camera. The viewer will be able to turn fully around inside the pod to see everything as if they were there at the location. The location device will also have a photo-resistor which will send brightness data to an array of LED lights which are built into the pod to simulate the lighting – Sunlight, Moonlight, ambient lighting. Another sensor on the device would be the temperature sensor which is capturing the location’s temperature in real-time. The temperature data will be connected to the environmental control of the pod. An example, the location is the Grand Canyon which is at 90 F, the pod would make sure it is the same at 90 F.

The piece is to immerse the viewer and to “teleport” them to a location in a instant. Most importantly this interaction is meant for an escape of daily life. It invites the user to relax and experience parts of the world in a flash by walking into one of the Holo-PODs.

A few expected emotional responses could be excitement, happiness, and to be surprised.

I was inspired by another fellow graduate student with their concept of a 360-blogger hat that would be experience through VR. Another inspiration would be from Star Trek’s Holodeck.

 

Inspirational Images/Components used in my Design

https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Star-Trek-Transporter.jpg
https://img-s3.onedio.com/id-58a17d1a69f471a201300837/rev-0/raw/s-b14223fecb985d39bf3ef754d7b13ed9924874fc.jpg
https://scifanatic-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/realholodeck-head.jpg

Sketch

Components Needed

  • A location device
    • 360 camera
    • Temperature Sensor
    • Photo-resistor
    • Cellular data or WiFi
  • Pod structure
  • Projector (to project the video) or a flexable LCD screen (OLED?)
  • Temperature control for pod
    • Heater
    • Coller
  • Array of LEDs

Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates – 2019 #6

3d digital art

This sprint was to start getting in the customization in Substance Designer. For some reason, I feel I am over complicating the design layout. Creating shapes is not the issue but rather the connection of customization in Unity. I am at a point where I need direction to either make preset panels or keep what I am doing right now and make it real time customizable panels. I believe that later is what the professor wants. Here are some WIP screenshots:

 

Direct Studio/Thesis Project

My focus on the project was to get a rigged character in from Adobe Mixamo. I ended up customizing the character and merging two different toons. Right now, it is in the scene and has a idle animation on it. I discover a huge design problem that I need to keep in mind. Aspect Ratio of the frame…. I could not find a decent 16:9 look. The ratio is too wide for a traditional looking portrait I envision. Good news, I have an idea where I would crop in using a different ratio like 4:5 and then build the physical frame to crop and hide the screen. This should be the best and fastest fix for the issue. Here are some screenshots with different aspect ratios.

 

Human-Computer Interaction

This sprint I focused on writing projects for my portfolio website. I used a few past projects – The Take House on the Hill, Floating Pyramid, and Simon Says…Photo-resistor. The formatting for the 3d art is close to what I already have but I might update some old posts and remove older art from 2012 that does not reflect my current skills.