Digital Actors in Documentary Film
The research lab at Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg has initiated numerous projects dedicated to convincing creation of human faces and their application across Animation, VFX and Interactive Media. In this latest project the team took a closer look into the potential of documentary film formats.
The selected use case investigates the convincing digital recreation of a historical character. While actors in re-enactments resemble the original only to some degree, completely digital characters can become convincing counterparts down to the smallest wrinkle. However, the project does not aim at substituting the actors, but tries to define pipelines to conserve their unique performance, including voice and gestures to create natural looking and appealing digital actors. For this use case, Albert Einstein served as a subject of investigation. His face is well-known and found its way into pop culture, although there are almost no color images of him. The results of the project are several short episodes where Albert Einstein comments on recent events, stating some of his famous quotes. As a variety of technical approaches are available to digitize existing humans, this work is particularly dedicated to tools for fully artistic approaches. Three short films will be released throughout December 2017 on our Youtube channel.
The technological basis for creating this digital actor is based on former research initiatives at Filmakademie (Facial Animation Toolset). These tools have been further enhanced to meet the requirements of this production. The technical innovation has been presented at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2017 workshop on Data-Driven Animation Techniques. To further support the global effort in creating convincing digital humans the digital assets of this production will be released in early 2018.