Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg announces that the R&D department at its world-renowned Institute of Animation has successfully finished its participation in SARA, a DFG-funded project aimed at supporting people on the autism spectrum. SARA exemplifies the team’s broad approach, encompassing the development of technologies and tools for the digital entertainment industry to expand animation’s use beyond entertainment.
From the announcement:
“People on the autism spectrum have a hard time recognizing expressions or emotional states in other people’s faces. SARA’s objective is to facilitate better facial recognition and consecutive evaluation of nonverbal, facial communication, for a more empathetic human interaction. Over a period of two years, the Institute of Animation, the University Medical Center Freiburg and the University of Konstanz analyzed different levels of abstraction in the depiction of virtual characters and their facial expressions. Abstraction is the chosen tool, because it reduces the high amount of detail in faces, enabling better recognition of facial expressions. Non-photorealistic portrayals cover a wide range of styles – from realistic, to water-color and loose-sketchy.”
Project partners took on different responsibilities for SARA. In Freiberg, research of non-photorealistic rendering and implementation of real-time algorithms was carried out in Constance. The Institute of Animation was responsible for the experiment software, with R&D Engineer Dr. Diana Arellano taking the main lead. Following several publications in the specialist media and presentations at international events such as SIGGRAPH Asia, the test study software for SARA is now available for download on the department’s website. SARA is open source software, which was refined during the project and can be used as the basis for projects to come.
The R&D department will now move forward on other initiatives, including the EU-funded DREAMSPACE that will look into developing tools and prototypes to combine live performances and CG in real-time.