Jed Boal ReportingIn many movies today, like the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, dazzling animation is as visible as good acting. But animation is expensive and time consuming.
Now Brigham Young University computer scientists have come up with new animation technology. For instance, in a battle sequence the technology applies artificial intelligence to character animation. In other words, the spaceships have learned to react and adapt.
It’s quite a breakthrough for the future of video games and movie animation. It was developed by Dr. Parris Egbert and Jon Dinerstein at Brigham Young University, and published today in the "Journal of Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds."
Jon Dinerstein, BYU Computer Science Doctoral Candidate: “There's no need for the programmer to spend a lot of time developing the character. He tells it the goals and it will go do everything on its own."
In video games, characters can learn to compete and make it more challenging for the user. In movies, animators can automate characters in scenes so they don't have to tell each character what to do.
Dr. Parris Egbert, BYU Associate Professor of Computer Science: “It lets them be more productive in the work they do because they don't have to spend as much time on the low-level animation."
The computer scientists told the characters how to move and told them their goals, they figure out the rest.
The characters can learn such that the activity becomes second nature and that requires little processing power. The character can also learn on its own and adapt online to interact with a human.
Jon Dinerstein: “As a result, the character can behave in a very humanlike manner, a very intelligent manner but without having to be told what to do in every situation it can find itself in."
Hollywood might lead us to believe that computers are ready to take over the world, but the fact of the matter is, there's still quite a gap between what computers can do and the human mind. Regardless, there are still some big advances on the horizon.
Jon Dinerstein: “Instead of the person we're dealing with being a graphical character, instead it's a robot. So this work is valuable not only for computer animation, but for the future of automatic vacuum cleaners or anything like this."
The computer scientists hope to market the technology to video game companies and animation studios.