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December 2017: Albert Einstein is alive!

Yes, you heard that correctly. Back among the living, Albert Einstein starts a new career by being the star of a three-part miniseries. In those episodes, he wonders about humanity, tries to get the hang of his smart phone and throws over his theory of relativity. E=mc² is history!

Albert Einstein’s new digital self is the center of attention of a research program that was initiated by Animationsinstituts’s research and development department. The project is dedicated to the question how convincing human faces can be created digitally and how they can be applied across Animation, VFX and Interactive Media.

As often, the devil is in the detail: The smallest unnatural facial expression of the digital face causes viewers to experience a feeling of eeriness that occurs when a humanoid object appears almost, but not exactly, like a real human. Therefore, the authentic recreation of the human facial expression is the main goal of the research project. For the specific case, Albert Einstein was chosen as a subject of investigation since his face is well known and found its way into pop culture.

During the live-action shoot, actor Ernst Konarek embodied Einstein. Afterwards, the researchers replaced Konarek’s face for Einstein’s. Three episodes starring the famous physicist will be published on the YouTube channel of Animationsinstitut’s R’n’D channel during December 2017.

Episode 1 „World Formula“: 01.12.17
Folge 2 „Human Being”: 08.12.17
Folge 3 „Smart Phone”: 15.12.17

The project is based on former research initiatives (Facial Animation Tools) of a similar kind that were conducted by Animationsinstitut and is partly funded by the MFG Foundation in the scope of the Karl-Steinbuch-Forschungsprogramm (KFS) research program. To further support the global effort in creating convincing digital humans the digital assets of this production will be released in early 2018.

Institute Director Prof. Andreas Hykade emphasizes the humanistic idea underlying the project: "By creating the digital image of Albert Einstein, Animationsinstitut’s research and development department (directed by Prof. Volker Helzle), didn’t only make use of cutting-edge technologies, but also revived an icon of humanity."