Monday, February 13, 2012

Next Generation of Max Headroom

1984 was the year when Max Headroom debuted as the first computer generated personality bringing life to computer technology. However, the original image of Max was actually not computer generated; it was a green screen image of Matt Frewer with latex prosthetic make-up and fiberglass costume. Even the background was initially hand-drawn cel animation at first, but eventually was generated by a Commodore computer.

Since Max Headroom, computer generated characters have become a part of everyday life, and today people use computer generated avatars to represent themselves in binary form. However, not since Max Headroom, has a hyper-realistic appearance of humans been generated.

Last week, new 3D like technologies enabled innovators James George and Jonathan Minard discover what they call “virtual cinematography.” The two have created new technology that is “redefining the talking head,” impacting the future of computer generated avatars. The two innovators use open-source software which maps the video image to the Kinect, producing a truly computerized human.

The two discovered that using “stock electronics: a Microsoft Kinect coupled with an SLR camera. The Kinect tracks a figure in 3-D space while the SLR provides a sizable upgrade to the kinect’s own camera,” according the Mark Wilson a writer for Co. Design. The new technologies and software work together creating a realistic 3-D model of the subject, which capture the motion of the subject in real-time.

A process that used to take teams of animators days to produce, could now be created, in a matter of minutes, with far more human-like features, gestures and uniqueness than currently generated computer avatars and animations can achieve. Since the days of Max Headroom, computer generated personalities have become an important part of our technological evolution, and culture. The use of this new technology has the potential to impact far beyond machinima culture into the next level of dynamic interactivity and connectivity of digital natives.
Please read Mark Wilson’s full article here.

Wilson, Mark (2012, February 11) A 3-D Animated Human Created Without An Animator, Using Just Kinect And A Camera. Co.Design. Retrieved from

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