SIGGRAPH 2018: Humanizing the Digital World with 3D Volumetric Animations

Intel® Software Innovators Tim and Alex Porter Are Using Volumation Capture to Bridge the Gap Between Real and Virtual Worlds

Changing the digital landscape by adding realism to everyday virtual interactions is the goal behind Intel® Software InnovatorsTim and Alex Porter’s latest project, Volumation.  At the SIGGRAPH Garage this August, they’ll demonstrate how their automated pipeline captures, optimizes and performs post-production cleanup in one process, without the need for a green screen, increasing realism and immersion.  SIGGRAPH 2018 is a five-day event showcasing the latest tech in computer graphics (CG), animation, virtual reality, games, digital art, mixed reality and emerging technologies.

Project: Volumation

Volumation is an automated tool that saves time, money and resources to capture real humans or objects in full motion and color.  By optimizing the mesh output for maximum quality in both size and look this imaging technology will allow for the advancement of compositing, integration and realism within any digital content creator (DCC).  Using a one-click process, Volumation captures, optimizes and does post-production cleanup to create 3D animated images with increased realism and immersion for digital environments.

Volumetric Capture

Volumetric capture records an individual or object from multiple cameras and angles, and then syncs, optimizes and processes the data into an output that can be used in a variety of ways.  By removing the limitation of any one camera, the asset supersedes the video medium and can be used in many platforms, including movies, video games, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and beyond.

SIGGRAPH 2018

This tool fills a void for studios by providing access to a new software product with a more flexible, affordable and easy-to-use toolset for small to large studios.  Within the digital graphics industry, the large audience at SIGGRAPH makes it a great platform to showcase this emerging product.

Project Challenges

With licensing fees starting at $1.5M and volumetric 3D asset creation starting at $6k per-minute, voumetric capture is quite expensive.  Traditional capture techniques also requires a green screen, specialized personnel for shoots and post-production work, as well as computationally intensive processing which translates into expensive hardware demands.  Syncing, post-production and optimization are also performed as independent processes, which increase the time and cost involved as well.  All of this adds up to a big hurdle for production studios, making it nearly impossible for them to compete with larger, more established studios.

To overcome these obstacles, Tim and Alex have designed a tool that is cheaper, faster and easier for studios who have a need to create volumetric capture assets without the constraints of other models.  Their automated tool requires less processing time, which makes it faster; requires fewer specialists, which saves money; and it’s convenient, which saves time.  

As a product that allows flexible setup anywhere with no green screen and an optimization technique that creates maximum quality in both file size and 3D asset appearance, there is a significant market opportunity for Volumation to create more realistic and immersive experiences.

Technical Details

Tim and Alex’s product is a custom software solution that can be utilized on many platforms from AR/VR to web and film.  The process has been vetted with webcams for a 180º bust with no green screen and optimized for mobile at 3.6Mb/second, which is considered mobile-ready.  

Creating and testing continue on two rigs they’ve set up to validate the possible rig combinations and outputs.  One system uses a Raspberry Pi* connected to an Intel® NUC, which controls the timing and has the user interface.  It uses the standard v2.1 cameras and all the system’s interface through the Ethernet cables.

The other system is much more advanced and uses the UP Squared* Grove* IoT Development Kit with each board accepting 4-5 cameras for a total of 120 cameras, including some that will be 4k cameras.  All of these systems transfer some of their data to the main server, which is a specialized desktop that includes Intel® Optane™ technology, NVMe storage drives, and multiple SSDs for drives.  The networking side has two 10GbE Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters to allow for recording of the nearly 2TB per second video. 

Collaboration and support has been provided by the Intel® Software Innovator program through both the Game Dev and IoT zones, Occipital and a partnership with the St. Elmo Soundstage.

Next Steps

The next steps for Volumation include beta testing in Underminer Studio’s Pilot Studio Program to iterate and create a comprehensive tool for professional use.  Opportunities in the entertainment industry include motion capture, video games, movies, television and other disciplines that require high accuracy information regarding physical realism.  Bringing this tech into the hands of early adopters like motion capture and production studios whose customer base includes capturing and processing assets for video games, VR, AR, holograms, film and others will allow for unprecedented access to volumetric assets. The long-term vision for this product is to plug it into other verticals like education, preservation, training, healthcare and more. They are working to humanize the digital world.

Intel® Software Innovators Tim and Alex Porter

After several years in the visualization technology space working in leading-edge tech like VR, AR, MR and XR, Intel Software Innovators Tim and Alex Porter decided to delve into product design. Their innovative product will help define the future of human-computer interaction through creating compelling use cases by combining immersive visuals and functional tools.  Alexandria Porter, CEO of Underminer Studios, has a strong design background and a keen interest in creating technology that is functional and beautiful.  Timothy Porter, CTO of Underminer Studios, has a background in video games and movies as a technical artist and a pipeline technical director from Sony Picture Imageworks, Game Loft and others.  Kevin Chaja has post-production and emerging technology experience and serves as the Chief Strategy Officer hailing from Warner Bros Motion Picture Imaging, Dolby Vision and as a Sony executive.

Learn More about the Intel® Software Innovator Program

Read about our innovator updates, get the program overview and learn about innovator benefits.  Check out Developer Mesh to see a variety of projects from our community of innovators.

Interested in More Information?  Contact Program Manager  Wendy Boswell

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