Scientists Develop Digital Puppets That Mimic Celebrities Incredibly Well

Posted: Dec 10 2015, 8:53am CST | by , Updated: Dec 10 2015, 8:42pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

Scientists Develop Digital Puppets that Mimic Celebrities Incredibly Well
Credit: Supasorn Suwajanakorn, University of Washington

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University of Washington researchers mined internet images and turned them into 3D videos capable of capturing the persona of someone else.

Have you ever imagined Ian McKellen speaking the words of Daniel Craig or Barrack Obama saying something which has been said by George W. Bush before?

This bizarre kind of mimicry is possible now.

Researchers from the University of Washington have collected facial poses of some of the most well-known personalities and used them to create digital models that can speak those things that are said by someone else not by them.

For example, Tom Hanks has done more than 80 films and has been in entertainment industry for decades. Researchers got a large photograph collection of the actor and used learning algorithms to capture the persona and animate the 3D model of Tom Hanks to deliver speeches that the real actor never performed.

“One answer to what makes Tom Hanks look like Tom Hanks can be demonstrated with a computer system that imitates what Tom Hanks will do.”Lead author Supasorn Suwajanakorn said.

The new technology relies on 3D face reconstruction and puppeteering that has already been existed. The latest thing that was added by the UW team was the ability to transfer an expression and the way a person speaks onto the face of someone else like putting George W. Bush’s words in the mouth of Hilary Clinton.

This is just the beginning. As technology evolves, we can expect fully interactive, 3D video puppets created out of family albums and video.

“You might one day be able to put on a pair of augmented reality glasses and there is a 3-D model of your mother on the couch,” said co-author Kemelmacher-Shlizerman. “Such technology doesn’t exist yet — the display technology is moving forward really fast — but how do you actually re-create your mother in three dimensions?”

If face construction technology is taken one step further, there may be a possibility that you can get an opportunity talk to your favorite personalities too.

“Imagine being able to have a conversation with anyone you can’t actually get to meet in person - LeBron James, Barack Obama, Charlie Chaplin - and interact with them,” said Steve Seitz, one of the authors of the study. “We’re trying to get there through a series of research steps. One of the true tests is can you have them say things that they didn’t say but it still feels like them? This paper is demonstrating that ability.”

To reconstruct faces of the celebrities, researchers required a minimum of 200 photographs which they obtained from internet. Using alignments, multi-texture modeling and other virtual reality applications, researchers were able to create ‘controlled’ digital model with the voice of another person.

“How do you map one person’s performance onto someone else’s face without losing their identity,” said Seitz. “That’s one of the most interesting aspects of this work. We’ve shown you can have George Bush’s expressions, and mouth and movements, but it still looks like George Clooney.”

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