The Research and Development department at Animationsinstitut consists of a multidisciplinary team dedicated to the creation of innovative tools and technologies, not only for entertainment productions, but also for alternative and more socially engaged applications. Over the years, we have explored a wide variety of topics that have been crucial in the media production of today and of tomorrow, while providing our students the possibility to experience first-hand the latest trends in technology.
Our current projects have a strong focus on Digital Actors, Immersion, High Performance Computing and the potential of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR-Now) in narrative entertainment productions. Most recently, our group was very active in the field of Virtual Production. In particular, the EU-funded project Dreamspace researched and developed tools to combine live performances, video and computer-generated imagery in real-time. Since real-time capabilities were identified as a key technology in upcoming production scenarios, we decided to develop our own open-source platform (Frapper). Previous projects that made use of this platform included a set of stereo conversion tools (S3D), an interactive conference guide, a cloud-based animated messaging service for mobile devices (Emote), and an alternative motion-capture approach through depth sensors. A strong area of research has also been on facial animation and emotions. This included the development of practical tools for high-quality facial animation: The Facial Animation Toolset.
Another line of applied research is Animation 2.0. It refers to all activities that aim at identifying novel use-cases for animated content. For example, the DFG-funded project SARA combined Virtual Characters, Animation, and Psychology to investigate how individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) perceive emotions in computer-generated facial expressions with different levels of abstraction.