Computer Graphics World

July / August 2015

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50 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 5 Creating lifelike CG humans is an extremely difficult endeav- or. Over the years, many have tried, carrying the ball forward but failing to reach the end goal of crossing what has become known as the Uncanny Valley. In 2001, Square Pictures spent countless hours and dollars creating a cast of digital humans for the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Its work was state of the art, but many criticized the results, calling the CG actors "creepy." In other words, close but not close enough. Let's also not forget the digital steps for- ward by Robert Zemeckis, with his pioneering advancements in performance capture, used on films such as The Polar Express (2004), Beowulf (2007), and A Christmas Carol (2009). Digital Domain took some gi- ant leaps forward by re-creating an aged Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In fact, there have been many attempts before and aer these projects. And more recently, studios including Digital Domain have been able to break new ground by generating holograms, resurrecting deceased actors and musicians, including Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson. These are just a few examples of the extraordinary work being done with digital humans in entertainment alone. In an attempt to cross the Uncanny Valley, a number of industry leaders have formed the Digital Human League (DHL) to study and share their knowledge of digital humans. The goal of the endeavor – called the Wikihuman Project – is to open source the findings so that the community can share and learn from the information. Here, Chaos Group's Christo- pher Nichols, who started DHL, discusses this collaborative project with CGW Chief Editor Karen Moltenbrey. When did the Digital Human League form? Officially, in August 2014. How did the idea originate? The creation of believable digital humans is something artists have been paying attention to for a long time. But, traditionally, the challenges and problems surrounding this space have been only tackled by individuals (people or companies), with little knowledge shared across the board. We saw an oppor- tunity to form a group that shared in this interest and were pursuing the same goal, but from different disciplines and perspectives. What is the group trying to achieve? The Digital Human League was formed with both an artistic and scientific motivation in mind. Together, as a group, DHL will embark on a large-scale project called Wikihuman. The goal of the project is to study, under- stand, challenge, and, most importantly, share knowledge of digital humans. Are the members artists or do they represent developers? Several members of DHL are dedicated to the science of acquiring complex and detailed data of humans for the use in CG. The league also includes a number of high-level artists who have tackled digital humans and know some of the pitfalls involved. We have soware developers that continue to cre- ate the tools that have driven and inspired the artists to the advancement of CG characters. Finally, some of our members are dedicated to researching the challenges of digital humans and how people act and react to them. The Wikihuman project will provide a central location where DHL will share data as well as the process with which that data can be used so there is a benchmark for understanding the balance between the art and science of representing computer-generat- ed, believable humans. What would you personally like to see achieved? By studying digital humans and how they succeed or fail, we will have a better understanding about our own feelings as to Almost Human INDUSTRY PIONEERS COLLABORATE TO ADVANCE THE DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL HUMANS BY KAREN MOLTENBREY

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