Research could lead to more realistic computer characters

Thanks to research being carried out at Goldsmiths, University of London, unrealistic computer characters could soon be a thing of the past.

Dr Marco Gillies, a lecturer in the Department of Computing, is heading up a project that will create more believable, expressive characters that can be used in interactive media.

Creating interactive behaviour is usually primarily a programming task and is therefore done by people with technical rather than artistic training.

Gillies’ research will use the Motion Capture software to record actors performing scenes and use it to create algorithms for computer programs. This will make computer game characters’ body movements more realistic.

He has already taken on a new member of staff, Andrea Kleinsmith, to help with the project and work will begin next month.

Gillies said: ’In traditional computer games, characters are running, jumping and fighting, very physical actions, and you don’t have a lot of social interaction. Part of the problem is that a lot of body language and behaviour is subconscious so it’s quite hard to design an algorithm for it.’

Actors will be asked to perform in the Motion Capture suite, based in Goldsmiths’ Ben Pimlott Building, where they will be recorded. The data will be used as input to a machine learning algorithm that will infer the parameters of a behavioural control model for the character.

’It’s a really interesting project because it’s combining computer science with drama and performing,’ added Gillies.

The project, funded by the EPSRC, also involves the visual interaction laboratory, which is part of the broader Centre for Creative and Social Technology (CAST).