virtual humans: companies and products
For Programmers and Content Developers:
- endorphin from NaturalMotion Ltd
- claim: "Active Character Technology (A.C.T.) enables users to interact in
real time with their characters to produce fully realistic human motion."
- a standalone app, retails at $16,000
Systems Reflex|DRAMA (was http://www.reflex3d.com/)
- human modeling software that goes beyond surfaces to
"the entire musculo-skeletal system: bones, muscle, tendons, cartilage and fat",
using a system of "symbolic DNA" as a human description
- as of 2000 they had investment, a
team of 8 developers, and showed a highly promising alpha version at Siggraph 2000
- as recently as 2003 they were apparently at http://www.reflexsystems.com/
but as of 2006 this is a squatter
- Learning Machines NOMAD
- an API that claims real-time physics-based simulation of humans
- Dynamic Graphics Systems
- standalone Win32 application Fashion Studio™ lets you design
clothes, drape them on humanoids, and produce renderings
- also exports 3d to POV, 3DS(ASC), RAY, OBJ formats
- over the years, commercial development has turned Jack from an
academic project into "a powerful 3D graphical environment that enables a user to
create or import graphics of objects and environments, easily populate the environment
with one or more high-fidelity human models, and interact with the virtual scene."
- Deneb/ERGO (offline as of 2004?)
- claims to be an "accurate, physics-based human motion and task analysis tool."
- includes libraries of body and hand postures, routines to generate walking, lifting and
- their humanoid models look very, very fake, casting doubt on the accuracy of their
- no mention on their site of what type of physical modelling is used
- MathEngine (acquired by Criterion
in 2003, then spun off, then vanished by 2009)
- a real-time game physics SDK, claiming support for real-time articulated bodies,
including physical collision handling and friction modelling
- was free for non-commercial use
- its unclear it they could do a standing figure, but they have strong
claims in their press releases:
- MathEngine to Provide Interactive Virtual Human Technology for Atlus
Co. Sony PlayStation2 Game
- MathEngine PLC announced it has joined in a technology and
software licensing agreement with Atlus Co., Ltd. of Japan, which
will use MathEngine's "virtual human" biomechanics
technology and engineering support for the development of their Sony
Atlus will use MathEngine's real-time constraint-solving technology
from their Interactive Virtual Human technology to create realistic 3D
environments for the game. The Interactive Human Technology allows
developers to simulate realistic human motion using rigid body dynamic
physics to model the joints and constraints of the human skeleton. This
technology replaces standard animations and provides an infinite variety
of non-scripted interactions.
MathEngine consultants will also be working jointly with Atlus to
integrate MathEngine's technology into their PlayStation 2 game.
The game will be released in Japan in March 2000 with the PlayStation
- DRaW Computing's OpenWorlds
- "Jack wired into a HANIM-compliant humanoid, through our Human OpenWorlds (HOW)
product, a TJ add-on module."
- "This provides the same capabilities of having VRML and a Jack humanoid together,
along with the additional bonus of us having over 50 human-specific VRML nodes to support
human simulations. In use by NASA for developing full simulations of training exercises
for the International Space Station."
- Seamless Solutions, Inc.
- worked on projects involving face and hand animation
- Department of Education SBIR Phase I : "Signing
Avatars", a PC-based real-time animation of avatar hands and arms to communicate
in American Sign Language at low bit rates via the internet
- person working on this was Lewis DeWitt, Senior Scientist
- the humanoid was called "Mona" and included some facial animation as well
- The Motion Factory's
- The closest thing to commercially available dynamic human
movement, licensed for $50,000
- They astutely observe: "There has been little progress in technology for
interactive character creation. Game characters are created with linear animation tools
and standard sequential programming languages, resulting in characters that are very
limited in their interaction with the environment and in their intelligence."
- Q: Does the motion reasoning engine use dynamic simulation?
- "A: No, not at this point. We currently rely on key-framing or motion capture to
capture the dynamic look and feel of the actors movement."
- "In theory dynamic simulation could be used to generate skills algorithmically, but
in practice its neither practical or necessary. Although there is research in using
dynamic simulation to generate character movement, such as running, diving, bicycling and
so on, its not appropriate to use dynamic simulation to generate these kind of
motion skills for three reasons: 1) dynamic simulation is still very computationally
expensive; 2) although dynamic simulation can be made physically correct, it is difficult
to imbed artistic or stylistic control into the simulation (i.e. a cartoon dog needs to
hop in a specific humorous way, or an athlete has a distinct running style); 3) its
difficult to use (animators are not trained to program dynamic equations)."
- As a result of not using real dynamics, the Motion Factory's motion still looks fake
- claims their VActor® System is "the
highest-quality, most flexible real-time character animation system in the world"
- high-end body and facial motion capture solutions
- mostly cartoonish characters, though a few of their models approach human proportions
- used for "virtual hosts" for TV shows, LBE and events
- their most human character, Sayuri, resembles Kyoko Date
- Musculographics, Inc
- Software for Interactive Musculoskeletal Modeling (SIMM)
- graphics-based software system that quickly develops and analyzes musculoskeletal models
consisting of a set of rigid body segments connected by joints
- SGI only
- Dynamics Pipeline
- suite of software tools, performs forward and inverse dynamic simulations on
- connects SIMM to SD/FAST
- Physical Effects, Inc. (PEI)
- "Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Physical Effects, Inc. (PEI) was founded in
1995 by Carnegie Mellon University Professors, Andrew Witkin and David Baraff. PEI
specializes in developing high speed numerical methods for solving problems in the field
of physically based animation. To date, the company's technical accomplishments include:
an interactive rigid body simulation system for animation and virtual environment
applications; and, a high-performance photorealistic cloth dynamics simulation
- got licensed to Alias|Wavefront for Maya's physics engine!
- Boston Dynamics Inc.
- "Focusing on the Science and Art of How Things Move" - including real-time
computer characters and human animation
- an outgrowth of the MIT Leg Lab
- they don't actually do any physics in their humanoid projects such as DI-Guy.
- Symbolic Dynamics, Inc.
- makes a physics simulation package called SD/FAST
- SD/FAST takes a short description of an articulated system of rigid bodies and derives
the full nonlinear equations of motion for that system, which are then output as C or
Fortran source code, which can be compiled and linked into any simulation or animation
- an artist who creates realtime characters for games
- Credo Interactive Inc
- makes a cute wireframe figure motion editor called LifeForms
- lack of dynamics or complex examples implies that this is at best a tool for tweaking
- claims to have developed "the next generation software architecture for animation
based on interactive articulated intelligent characters"
- Millennium RUSH is a subsidiary of KATrix
- its purpose is to showcase the KATrix technology in various projects
- one of these projects was MetaCreations's Dance Studio, now
- Curious Lab's Poser
- a fairly powerful, cheap, and easy-to-use commercial package for character posing and
- not useful as a source for models, see entry in model sources
- Animats - Falling Bodies
- a Softimage plugin that accurately simulates the dynamics of passive jointed bodies!
- very non-realtime, though as far as
i know, it's the only product with this ability at
- their Varimotion, Real-Time Bones, and AniMorph technologies
were used for the Jennifer project
- Virtual Friend
- from Haptek Inc. in Santa
- a talking head program for Win95, WinNT, and Mac
- combines good art, facial parameter blending, lip-synching and a sense of humor into a
noteworthy prototype of an actual 3D v-humans application
- morphs between several head models
- uses well-chosen voice parameters, though it desperately needs improvements to the
overall voice synthesis technology
- around $40 from Virtual Personalities, Inc. in LA
- another talking head, this one is currently only 2D
- they call their technology "Verbot" for Verbal Software Robot
- the speech synthesis was very poor, but reportedly they improved it by licensing the
"tts 3000 from L&H"
- they did have a 3D engine, but they set it aside, finding more commercial interest in
the 2D version
- Blade Runner,
Virtual Valerie 2, etc.
- not realtime rendering, but definitely a interesting step forward for virtual humans
Other commercial activities:
- Elite / Illusion2k / Optidigit
/ Cinemagic / Androidblues
- these companies are involved with the artwork of a single artist,
- Elite is a major modelling agency, which was mentioned in a press release as initiating
the use of Steven's models for actual commercial modelling (although their website does
not mention this)
- Illusion2k is the company supplying the models for Elite
- Optidigit is Illusion2k's partner (studio and post production) where Steven
develops most of his CG jobs
- Cinemagic is another digital production house, selling a 3d modelling tutorial based on
- Stählberg created all his models with NURBs in Alias PowerAnimator on an SGI
- Q: If a client wants to "employ" Webbie, do they deal with Elite or
A: Jorge Carcavallo of illusion2k explains:
- "One of the benefits of the project is that we open a new business unit that will
permit to make an interest interchange. Elite give to the CG and VR world them expertise
in closing big contracts and they receive the knowledge in High Tech market. Artist, tech
companies, ad companies and consumers will win with this. Answering: they can contact any
of the 25 worldwide offices around the world our illusion2k trough internet how many
companies from Asia, Europe and Americas are doing."