(Montreal, Québec – January 23, 2006) Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., today announced that New York-based design and effects company Spontaneous used Softimage® character animation technology to create the latest music video for the Grammy® Award-winning rock band U2.
The video for Original of the Species features a digital version of Bono, the band’s lead singer, accompanied by a computer generated woman. Both characters were created using SOFTIMAGE|XSI® v.5.0 and animated with an alpha version of SOFTIMAGE|FACE ROBOTTM, the revolutionary new digital acting technology that allows 3D artists to achieve realistic, lifelike facial animation for high-end film, post and games projects. The music video was conceived and directed by long-time U2 collaborator, Catherine Owens, who has worked with Spontaneous on several of U2’s in-concert animations for the band’s current Vertigo tour.
“One of the concepts of the video was for Bono to enter and exist in the woman’s private, digital world for a brief moment in time. When we saw an early model of her character, the images were absolutely haunting – we knew that we could achieve exactly what we had imagined,” said Catherine Owens, the video’s director. “Spontaneous did amazing work to fulfill the band’s vision for the song, which was to deliver an intimate and emotional experience. The band considers it a dazzling work of future animation.”
In order to create the video’s unique look, Spontaneous brought a digital scan of Bono into SOFTIMAGE|XSI animation software to prepare a 3D model to be animated and imported into the Face Robot software. Using Face Robot, the 3D artists applied data recorded from a live motion capture session – where sensors are used to capture a live performance – to animate Bono’s digital double. For the female character, the team was able to re-use the motion capture data from Bono to subtly animate her. The ability to re-purpose this data – in a process known as re-targeting – allowed the team to save costly studio and production time. The project was conceived, created and completed in less than seven weeks for release during the band’s current tour.
“One of the biggest challenges on this project was the task of delivering a believable, animated model of Bono, who is so recognizable. The concept of the video was so subtle and elegant that we knew the digital acting element had to be perfect. Once we took the data from the motion capture – or ‘mocap’ – session and brought it into Face Robot, we knew we had it. The animation was so clean and we were blown away at how convincing it was,” said Lawrence Nimrichter, director of animation at Spontaneous. “This was a high-profile project with an extremely tight deadline, and by having access to Face Robot, we were able to deliver. This technology is truly incredible.”
Blur Studio’s Jeff Wilson, who collaborated with Spontaneous on the video, said, “I have used Face Robot on several projects, and again, it exceeded my expectations in terms of what we could do and how quickly we could do it. The software is so fast and flexible, and it allows projects like this to be completed with a high level of quality and precision – and in record time.”
Face Robot technology is built on a groundbreaking new computer model of facial soft tissue that mimics the full range of emotions portrayed by the human face, giving artist’s more control over details, including wrinkles, frowns, flaring nostrils, and bulging neck muscles. The software in scheduled to be commercially available in 2006.
Videos and background information on the technology are available at http://www.softimage.com/facerobot
About Softimage Co.
Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc, delivers innovative, artist-friendly character creation and effects tools to animators and digital artists in the film, broadcast, post-production and games industries. Its flagship product, SOFTIMAGE|XSI - the industry's only non-destructive digital character production software - frees character animators and digital artists to create compelling animated 3D content and effects - from major motion pictures to CG features and commercials, to video games. For more information about Softimage, please visit http://www.softimage.com
About Avid Technology, Inc.
Avid Technology, Inc. is the world leader in digital nonlinear media creation, management, and distribution solutions, enabling film, video, audio, animation, games, and broadcast professionals to work more efficiently, productively, and creatively. For more information about the company’s Oscarâ, Grammyâ, and Emmyâ award-winning products and services, please visit: http://www.avid.com