While the price of animation tools and computers decreases constantly, and the speed and complexity improves with each new version, the process of animating a character with a mouse and computer monitor is still a painstaking problem. The required tasks are mastered by only a few with the patience and skill to decipher tables of numbers and bounding box representations.

To bypass this problem, Video Bits and Mr. Film Studios combined an Ascension Flock of Birds body suit, a Xist face tracking helmet, proprietary studio animation software, and a Silicon Graphics Onyx Reality Engine2 to create Interactive Creatures. As the participant moves in the suit, the computer software translates the moves and draws a computer graphics character in real time, providing instant feedback and real-time results for recording.

This approach opens computer graphics to whole new groups of people and situations, including SIGKids, where students have the opportunity to put on and animate a new personality, and produce performance animation in a single day. A team of students can take up the various controls and animate a character in a virtual environment to tell stories and produce shows.

Although this method of production is just starting to gain acceptance in Hollywood and is considered secret techno-logy by some of the studies that have started exploring its capabilities, at SIGGRAPH 95 Interactive Creatures gives children the opportunity to be a new character and lets them produce and take home a complete rendered video of their experience.

Derek Woolverton
Video Bits
1310 East Orange Grove Boulevard, #112
Pasadena, California 91104 USA

Contributing Companies

Video Bits
Mr. Film Studios
Ascension Technologies Corp.
Vierte Art GmbH
Systech Corporation
Silicon Graphics. Inc.
Visual Interactive Design Inc.

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