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Virtual Makeup


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

If an actor were to play a real-life character, he has to spend hours putting on complex makeup and even then he does not look all that much like the person he is portraying.

Here is a new approach. You make 3D casting of the head of both the actor and the person he is portraying. An artist may have to create the casting from photographs or film. Then you digitise the two heads. Then you map corresponding points, like the tip of the nose, the top center of the lips, the center of each eyelid… Now you photograph the actor moving his face, without makeup, using a 3D camera. Then frame by frame, you map the points on his face to the corresponding points on the person he is portraying and warp the points to match. The process is similar to morphing. You need to do some tweaking. For example the actor may have quite exaggerated motions and these will have to be dampened. The actor may have a small mouth, so his mouth motions have to be exaggerated to the corresponding mouth motions on the person portrayed. You must do whatever it takes to produce an extremely realistic portrayal. The advantage you have is you don’t have to do this is real time. You don’t have to compute full resolution until after the final editing decisions.

A simpler similar problem is to create a realistic avatar, (animated cartoon character) to represent you in a virtual world. It should track your eye motions, mouth movements, arm and leg positions. Cartoons are made by having dancers move about with dots on their bodies. The positions of the dots are tracked and used to control the motions of the virtual characters. I am suggesting a refinement of that idea that tracks the face.

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