News

Computer scientists put some skin in the game of visual effects

Published on Monday, May 08, 2017

Vital-Mechanics

UBC computer scientists are examining exactly how skin folds, stretches, wrinkles and bounces, with the goal of creating a realistic computer model of the human body.

“Human skin and other soft tissues are thin, elastic structures that deform a lot,” said Dinesh Pai, professor of computer science. “It has been a challenge to come up with a good computer algorithm to simulate it.”

Pai and his team are using motion capture, 3D scanners, and other technologies to study the properties of skin and how it deforms as we dance, jump and stretch. Their goal is to take all this information and create a simple computer algorithm that can predict how our skin moves as we move.

Their spin-off company, Vital Mechanics, is using these models to create more realistic visual effects in movies like Fantastic Beasts. The models will also be helpful tools for companies needing to test anything that interacts with the human body like the emerging market of wearable technologies.

Vital Mechanics is part of UBC’s HATCH, an incubator space for new technology startups to build and test their inventions, grow their businesses, and transform ideas into commercial products.