Pacific Data Images Distorts the Fact for Angels in the Outfield

PDI's Proprietary Software Makes Angel Faces With Cyberware 3030RGB/PS Scans

To make the move angel faces that change expression like real people's faces, Pacific Data Images (PDI) used proprietary software to create morphing targets from Cyberware models. A polygonized head from Viewpoint Datalabs was used as a reference, and then Cyberware data was distorted to fit over the head.

PDI got the raw material for animating the angels' faces by scanning multiple expressions on actors' faces using a Cyberware 3030RGB/PS. To make it easier to morph between different expressions, common features such as eyes and mouth were identified in each scanned model. PDI's proprietary software then morphed between the models automatically.

Cyberware Hits It Big With Angels in the Outfield

When Touchstone Pictures wanted celestial special effects for its summer hit Angels in the Outfield a Cyberware scanner stepped to the plate and belted a home run.

"How do you do something to an actor that's never been done?" asks Cyberware vice president Steve Addleman. "With computers-you can do it without staging stunts or using doubles."

Angels in the Outfield is the story of a California baseball team helped to the World Series by a team of heavenly hardballers. To make the actors portraying the angelic action appear both ethereal and humorous, a combination of live action and computer-generated effects was generated using Cyberware scans.

Actor Christopher Lloyd's otherworldly antics were a major focus of the special effects effort. A Cyberware 3D Digitizer helped create everything from unique body movements to twisted facial expressions. In the movie, Lloyd is seen walking through people, splashing out a soft drink and turning into a bubble.

The "angels" in the film were actually built using Cyberware scans of the actors' faces. Pacific Data Images (PDI) animated the faces by distorting Cyberware's textural and polygonal data of the faces, then used the 3D data from the texture map and placed it back onto the live-action angel faces.

Movie magic is nothing new at Cyberware. With credits that include Star Trek IV and Terminator II, Cyberware is hardly a stranger to the silver screen.

"Besides engineering uses, we have a steady flow of work from film projects," Addleman says. "In a way, Cyberware has been so far ahead that nobody could keep up with applications for the technology," he continues. "Companies line Industrial Light and Magic like to use the latest and the greatest. By coming here, they get that."

And studios that have a Cyberware scanner often have Hollywood coming to them for the latest and the greatest.

For example, Lloyd and a few other actors were scanned at Cyber F/X offices in Montrose, CA, where their heads were digitized and the images then manipulated using compatible programs at PDI.

"We do most of Hollywood," notes Cyber F/X president Dick Cavdek, whose company has used a Cyberware 3D scanner in its offices for two years. As a result, most of the talent in Tinseltown has come through its doors.

The current surge in software applications allows the data from Cyberware scanners to be manipulated into special effects concepts straight from the artist's imagination. The upshot is that Cyberware's name is now known in the film industry, and movie makers and special effects studios are beating a path to the company's doors.

"They keep us guessing," Addleman says. "It's always a surprise and a delight to see what people like that will do next with the technology."

PDI Extends Still Image Morph Technique to Make "Angels" Fly

Pacific Data Images (PDI) extended its morph technique used for still images to achieve the illusion that photographed or computer-generated subjects are transforming in a fluid, surrealistic and often dramatic way for Touchstone Pictures' Angels in the Outfield.

Initially, the actors were scanned at Cyberware with different facial expressions. Then, specific features were chosen from the various scans and the corresponding polygonal set was identified. Standard morph software was used to register the various data sets. Registration is necessary to interpolate smoothly between data sets.

Next, the cross-dissolve method was used to change from one digital image into another. In this method, the color pixel is interpolated over time form the first image value to the corresponding second image value. The resulting morph is a combination of generalized warping with a cross-dissolve between image elements. Morphing is an image processing technique.

As the morph proceeds, the first image is gradually distorted and faded out, while the second image starts out totally distorted toward the first and is faded in. The morph process consists of warping two images so that they have the same "shape," and then cross-dissolving the resulting images.

To morph between two sequences of live action, the morph technique was extended. Instead of just making corresponding feature in the two images, the animator had to define a set of line sequences at key frames for each sequence of images. These sets of segments are interpolated to get the two sets for a particular frame. Then the two-image morph is applied to one frame form each live action strip.

The morphing process is a lot of work for animators, because they must mark features in many key frames within two sequences of live action. For example, to morph between two faces, the animator might have to draw a line down the nose in 10 key frames of both live actions sequences, requiring 20 individual line segments. However, the increase in realism of morphing live action is dramatic.

Acknowledgement: Some of the text in this article is from: Thaddeus Beir and Shawn Neely, "Feature-Based Image Metamorphosis." Computer Graphics Proceedings, Vol. 26, No. 2, July 1992.

Cyberware Scanner Is Star Attraction of Briefing Center at Silicon Graphics, Inc.


A star performer for the 12,000 annual visitors to Silicon Graphics Inc.'s (SGI's) Briefing Center is a Cyberware 3030RGB/PS Scanner. It's "one of the best things we have in there," reports Briefing Center manager Michael Wills. The Briefing Center offers demonstrations of products from SGI and related third-party companies. Wills says the Cyberware demos run "constantly."

The center includes four conference rooms equipped with IRIS Indig2/Indy Systems and computer/video production. The demonstration area has 10 SGI workstations with peripheral devices and both SGI and third-party software.

The drama of a 3D scan in the darkened briefing center is a high point for visitors. Kenny Loggins and Herbie Hancock have been scanned there, and Hancock went home with a bust of himself that Cyberware milled out of plastic.

In addition to such celebrities, visiting groups typically include a high percentage of VIPs-CEOs and heads of state, including President Bill Clinton. Wills says that Center staffers scan at least one member of almost every visiting group.

The Briefing Center recently lent its expertise and Cyberware scanner to help support Macy's annual Passport charity fashion show. The Briefing Center scanned an actor to create a virtual character, which will interact live with patrons at the fashion show via a Simgraphics Waldo. Viewpoint Datalabs is providing morphing targets for the project. In recent years, the Passport show has brought in between $1.5 and $2 million to support AIDS-related research and other causes.

Viewpoint Datalabs Takes Its Scanner to Hollywood

Viewpoint Datalabs or Orem, UT is boldly taking its Cyberware 3030PS scanner where no scanner has gone before-space, the final frontier, Hollywood style.

Viewpoint's West Los Angeles office recently scanned actors for an episode of the syndicated science fiction television show Star Trek: Deep Space 9. And Viewpoint has big plans for the future.

"We're serious about providing this service to anyone who needs it," says Brett Gassaway, sales manager/technical support for Viewpoint's west Los Angeles Office.

For Deep Space 9, scans were made of actors who played shape-shifting beings capable of morphing into water, rocks and birds. While the scans typically took a matter of seconds, the process of producing computer-animated characters with clean lines and edges took considerably longer. Viewpoint is working to shorten that process by developing new programs to manipulate the data.

"We're taking steps in the area of software that will make those scans more usable to more people," Gassaway says.

Viewpoint offers a wide variety of off-the-shelf datasets through a 200-page catalog. For information, call 1-800-DATASET or +1-801-229-3000.

Cyberware on the Move

The company that gave a new look to 3D technology has a new look of its own, as Cyberware has moved into its new Monterey headquarters Tuesday, November 10.

The move makes Cyberware more centrally located on the Monterey Peninsula than it was in its previous HQ on the Monterey-Salinas Highway. The new building is larger, and its layout is more user-friendly for employees and visitors. Situated near the ocean along the coastal bike path, the new digs offer employees a "greener" commute. And the location gives Cyberware surfers a chance to check out the waves on the way to work.

The new Cyberware address:
2110 Del Monte Avenue
Monterey, California, USA 93940-3797
Phone: +1 831 657-1450
Fax: +1 831 657-1494

Whole Body Will Be Scanned in One Pass

A hot project is underway at Cyberware to produce a motion platform that makes a color 3D scan of the entire human body in one pass.

The whole-body (WB) scanner will use two or four optical instruments, depending on the detail required. Cyberware's CyZip™ software will automatically join the images from the various optical instruments into one seamless 3D model. With the WB platform, animators and movie directors will have the means to work with true human forms.

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