Virtual Character Definition and Animation within the MPEG-4 Standard
Marius Preda (GET/Institut National des Telecommunications, France), Ioan A. Salomie (ETRO Department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), Françoise Preteux (GET/Institut National des Telecommunications, France) and Gauthier Lafruit (MICS-DESICS/Interuniversity MircoElectronics Center (IMEC), Belgium)
Copyright: © 2004
Besides being one of the well-known audio/video coding techniques, MPEG-4 provides additional coding tools dedicated to virtual character animation. The motivation of considering virtual character definition and animation issues within MPEG-4 is first presented. Then, it is shown how MPEG-4, Amendment 1 offers an appropriate framework for virtual human stream is presented and discussed in terms of a generic representation and additional functionalities. The biomechanical properties, modeled by means of the character skeleton that defines the bone influence on the skin region, as well as the local spatial deformations simulating muscles, are supported by specific nodes. Animating the virtual character consists in instantiating bone transformations and muscle control curves. Interpolation techniques, inverse kinematics, discrete cosine transform and arithmetic encoding techniques make it possible to provide a highly compressed animation stream. Within a dedicated modeling approach — the so-called MeshGrid — we show how the bone and muscle-based animation mechanism is applied to deform the 3D space around a humanoid.