Virtual actor looks eerily lifelike

The person in this video looks real, but she isn't. She's a digital replica of the actress Emily O'Brien created by Image Metrics and Paul Debevec at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). They demonstrated the high-definition animated face at this month's SIGGRAPH 2008 conference. From the press release:

ICT employed its high-resolution face scanning process to capture O'Brien in 35 facial poses directed by Image Metrics. This newest process from the ICT Graphics Lab places the actor inside a sphere of LED lights, illuminating the talent with a set of polarized spherical gradient illumination patterns while a pair of high-resolution digital cameras takes around 15 photographs in under three seconds.

These patterns allow the shine of the skin to be photographed independently from the main skin tone so that precise colors and characteristics can be calculated at hundreds of measurements per square millimeter. The resulting CG models provide unprecedented detail of natural facial expressions – down to skin pores and fine wrinkles – with perfectly aligned shading information that allows photo-real faces to be rendered under any illumination and viewpoint with standard rendering packages.

The Emily Project video, Image Metrics press release (Thanks, Tara McGinley!)

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Computational photography