For decades, 2D animation has been a popular storytelling medium across many domains, including entertainment, advertising and education. Traditional workflows for creating such animations are highly labor-intensive; animators either draw every frame by hand (as in classical animation) or manually specify keyframes and motion curves that define how characters and objects move. An alternative workflow is to provide animators with direct real-time control over digital characters via performance, which offers a more immediate and, in many cases, more efficient way to create 2D animation. This talk describes several efforts to transform various types of performance (motion-tracked movements, explicit triggering, speech) into corresponding motions and actions of animated characters. I will touch on the core technical concepts, findings from user research, and some promising future directions in this domain. I will also demonstrate how some of these technologies have been implemented within Adobe Character Animator, a performance-based 2D animation tool that has been used for several recent productions, including a live-animated (!) episode of the Simpsons and recurring animated segments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Wilmot (Wil) Li is a Principal Scientist at Adobe Research. He joined Adobe in 2008 after completing his PhD in Computer Science in the Graphics and Imaging Lab at the University of Washington. Wil’s research lies at the intersection of computer graphics and human-computer interaction, and in recent years, he has focused on performance-based 2D animation and design tools for fabrication. Although he is now based in Seattle, Wil hails from Toronto and is a long-suffering fan of the Maple Leafs.