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Gregory Hough

Name: Gregory Hough

Research Title: The on-screen viewing of live interaction between actors and virtual objects

Name of Director of Studies: Professor Cham Athwal

Key Contact Details - Email: Gregory.hough2@mail.bcu.ac.uk

About the Project: The virtual studio is a form of television studio that allows the merging of real and synthetic environments, based on a process known as Chroma key. This method allows an actor to appear as though they exist within the synthetic environment. This is typical of what you see in weather broadcasts.

The advantages to this approach are that the actor can be placed in sets that would typically be difficult to replicate in a regular television studio, as well as saving on studio space and set-up time, allowing cheaper productions.

With these things considered the current state of virtual studio technology still limits the use to a small range of applications. Even though the actor appears to be inside a full 3D virtual set, the illusion is never truly complete because they do not behave with the virtual set as they would with a real set.

One of these limitations is the actor’s inability to physically interact with objects.

This project aims to enhance the level of interaction between the actor and the virtual set, using methods compatible with most existing virtual studios.

Research Activities: Interaction between actor and virtual object is achieved by inputting skeletal tracking data of the actor into the virtual set environment and creating the relevant object movements. Research into interaction contains three main strands:

  • a head-guided projection system for real time feedback to aid the actor
  • the ability to automatically handle a range of occlusions in a layer based format
  • creating correct object reactions to movements of the actor

Further to this, an investigation of the actor’s ability to interact with the virtual objects in the scene has also been conducted. The results of this investigation will aim to provide valuable information about the way the actor moves when attempting to interact with virtual objects.

Findings: The findings have allowed the successful implementation of real time actor feedback using a head guided projection system (Hough et al, 2012a) and occlusion between the actor and virtual objects (Hough et al, 2012b) into a real virtual studio system.

Real time interaction between the actor and the virtual set has also been achieved and implemented into a virtual studio. Currently the results from the investigation of the actor’s ability to interact with the virtual objects are being analysed to help identify the optimum conditions and features to produce a convincing interaction experience for the viewer.
Videos demonstrating the live interaction and occlusion results can be found here.

Achievements: Hough, G. Athwal, C. Williams, I. ‘ScaMP: A Head Guided Projection System’. ACM DIS’12. 2012a
Hough, G. Athwal, C. Williams, I. ‘Advanced Occlusion Handling For Virtual Studios’, ICHIT’12, Lec. Notes In Comp. Science. Vol. 7425, 2012b