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Moving Beyond Ragdolls: Generating Versatile Human Behaviors by Combining Motion Capture and Controlled Physical Simulation
Price $5.95
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SKU GDC-05-116
Moving Beyond Ragdolls: Generating Versatile Human Behaviors by Combining Motion Capture and Controlled Physical Simulation,

Programming, Lecture

Michael Mandel
Software Engineer, Apple Computer
This talk looks at how developers can create new kinds of animation systems capable of moving from existing motion data to controlled physical simulation and back. Games create compelling characters through imaginative designers combined with skillful artists or a talented actor in a motion capture studio. However, virtual characters often look unrealistic when interacting with living and dynamic environments because the artist’s keyframes or the actor’s movements predetermine the character’s abilities. “Ragdolls” have recently been used to model the physics of the body as it collides with the environment and other characters. Unfortunately, their usefulness is limited because the ragdoll appears lifeless without control systems to produce realistic behavior. Returning character control to prerecorded motion is also difficult because the final pose of the ragdoll is not known beforehand. This lecture discusses how the strengths of motion capture data and physically controlled behaviors can be combined. Hybrid animation systems using this approach can transition from motion data to simulation and back so that each method may be used in the appropriate context. Physical controllers are developed using techniques from biomechanics and robotics literature to infuse life into simulated motion. The proportional derivative controllers may be artist directed and can guide simulated characters to realistic behaviors while retaining their physical realism. These controllers also allow the simulation to move back towards motion data in a natural way. Fast search techniques build a correspondence between simulated postures and large motion databases. This session should provide developers with practical implementation details, proper high-level concepts, and resources to learn more about this emerging approach to animation. Such an approach can drive the future of modern animation systems to empower game developers to deploy characters that can move and respond to the living world of their imaginations.

Attendees will understand the advantages of combining both simulation and traditional motion data for character animation. The complementary strengths and weaknesses of these approaches motivate the need for an effective hybrid system that can utilize either technique interchangeably. Attendees learn how to move beyond ragdolls to add believable life into simulated character animation with the added ability to move back to motion data. State-of-the-art techniques from the research community are presented in the context of games so developers can understand how to integrate physically simulated behavior into their existing pipelines. Practical implementation tips and references give attendees the resources to get started immediately.

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