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intelligent 3D content extraction and manipulation for film and games (i3DPost)
Start date: 01 Jan 2008, End date: 31 Dec 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Description New film techniques to put the ‘real’ back into realismAs special effects, and particularly animations, become more important in film-making, believability and realism are what producers and game developers strive for.Now European research on automated three-dimensional modelling could make it easier and cheaper for them to provide more realistic and exciting films and games for consumers. Researchers in the i3DPOST project aim to develop a system to capture the 3-D composition of film sets as an aid to post-production work. At present the director works with a principal camera which takes the front-on shot the audience in the cinema sees. After shooting, post-production staff then use a variety of tools from tape measures to laser scanners to build up a 3-D image of each shot so they can then add details which are not there, or change aspects of the shot. Adding alien headsThis could be as simple as adding a shadow where there was none before, or adding or removing a piece of furniture.  At a more complex level, it might involve removing actors entirely or perhaps putting alien heads on actors’ bodies. The three-year project, which kicked off in January this year, could result in automating that 3-D imaging process, making it less expensive and more effective than the current manual system. The automated system would also add the 3-D component at the time of filming rather than afterwards. The project’s scientific coordinator, Simon Robinson, explains the researchers main focus will be on using additional cameras during filming to capture sets from different angles, working in conjunction with new software that the researchers will develop. Bonus for games developersAs a result, not only film-makers will benefit, but game developers will also be able to speed up the production and marketing of games based on films. Instead of having to start from scratch with their own 3-D modelling when the film is complete, developers will have the same digital information to work with as the film-makers – and at the same time. “The extra cameras must be unobtrusive so as not to disrupt the filming process, and costs need to be kept down, so we will have to work out how many additional cameras are enough and how sophisticated they need to be,” he says. The project already has a head start on this aspect thanks to one of its partners, French production house BUF Compagnie, which already captures shots from multiple angles and uses them to recreate manually sets in post production. The challenge facing the partners is to create software to automate the process. Capturing moving objectsThe other major challenge is to capture moving objects, particularly actors. “The capture of human performance is tricky, and capturing facial expressions is particularly difficult,” Robinson says. If all goes according to plan, the project will develop a prototype system which can be commercialised by the partners. Using advances in 3-D data capture, 3-D motion estimation and media semantics, it will aim to provide top-quality 3D content in a structured format for use in different media platforms. Then film audiences and game players can expect to see more realistic 3-D products from Europe’s producers and developers.
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