Animation artists know that creating a 3D object is a time consuming task. Even with the near-supercomputer speeds that one can get on a workstation, it takes hours, even days, to create 3D animated figures, starting with skeletons, then giving them shape, form and complex movements.
Now, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come to the rescue, in this, as in so many other computation-intensive tasks. An Indian startup, co-founded by three engineering dropouts, has harnessed AI, to power a tool, that will significantly reduce manual work involved in such tasks. It will come as a blessing for animation and game developers everywhere.
The tool Norah.AI is the work of Vrushali Prasade, Shubham Mishra and Harikrishna Valiyath (all three coincidentally aged 23, at the time), who quit BITS Pilani, Goa in 2015 and co-founded the startup, Absentia, in Bangalore. Norah is arguably, India's first game workflow (the process of creating a game or an animation from story line to end product), driven by Neural Networks, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
The first module in the Norah.AI suite concentrates on animation. Users can choose from a large library of pre-existing animations, or create entirely new ones by blending and tweaking different animations together. Norah has specific tools for animation procedures like:
Auto-Rigging of 3D Models: This is the cumbersome process of adding a skeleton and skin to a 3D mesh. Norah can produce a full skeleton and a variety of movements within seconds, without any manual effort.
Animation Style Transfer: After studying millions of animation frames, Norah.AI is able to combine two animation styles to produce unexpected results. A Hip-hop dance combined with Bharatanatyam? No problem!
Facial Expression Generator: Thanks to Machine Learning algorithms that are trained on thousands of face animation frames, Norah.AI can generate an infinite number of subtle facial emotions.
AI Created Repository: AI can generate a library with a wide variety of locomotion styles (crawling, walking in rough terrain etc.), detailed and complex dance forms, and combat animations.
Absentia plans to roll out a series of modules for other elements, like game geometry, story weaving, and texturing. This will enable developers to create fully playable and interactive games arcade games, casual games, puzzles, 3D animated games with minimal human input, faster than was ever possible. Promises Absentia CTO, Vrushali Prasade, Norah.AI will change the way we think and go about game creation. What takes months, will soon take minutes. Man-hours will be replaced by machine-seconds.
Source: Deccan Chronicle