‘Plastic-looking’ computer-generated characters in films and video games could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new high-definition animation technique.
The results will be so lifelike that audiences will be able to see individual skin cells and hair follicles on animated characters played by real-life actors.
Researchers, whose previous methods were used in the 2009 film Avatar, now say that they can scan patches on skin on a human face in such high resolution that every blemish, line or change in colour for different facial expressions can be captured on screen.
Teams from the University of Southern California and Imperial College London have developed a way of scanning centimeter-square patches of skin all over the face at a resolution of 10 micrometers.
It means that just one skin cell covers three pixels on screen, reports the Times.
The patches are then mapped on to the 3D model of the actor, which has been created by the actor wearing motion sensors as they perform.
The scanning, which takes place in a laboratory, can also pick up the light that penetrates the surface of the skin and how it reacts to different types of light.
Professor Paul Debevec, of the graphics research team at USC, told the newspaper: ‘The bumpiness of the surface of the skin, at the micron scale, actually affects how light reflects off the surface.
‘That’s what makes it look healthy or oily or pasty or chalky. It makes someone look like a human being made out of organic material and not like a computer-generated zombie.’
The new technique will make it cheaper and easier to add things such as spots, wrinkles and moles to the CGI faces, the Times reports.
It cost £150million to carry out the time-consuming work on Avatar, directed by James Cameron, which was 60 per cent computer-generated.
The cast, which included Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington, performed their roles with motion sensors attached to their bodies and faces and were then transformed by digital animators into the blue-skinned Na’vi.
Video games developers at Activision have already come up with an algorithm that mimics the new scanner to speed up and reduce the cost of the process.
Dr Abhijeet Ghosh, of the computing department at Imperial, has since worked with cosmetics firm Avon to see if the scanning facial technique could be used to analyze how skin reacts to make-up.
He told the Times that the detail involved in the technology could be used by medics and dermatologists, as well as shoppers wanting to find out how different shades of foundation will suit their skin.
Attribution: Mail Online