Performative Avatars

Avatar DownloadMe

September 25, 2017
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This week I used a photogrammetry platform called PhotoscanPro to make a 3D model of may face.  I uploaded the file to SketchFab for anyone to download for free.  I made no ads nor any announcements of the opportunity.

I had to make a few photogrammetry models.  The final was 1 of 4 attempts to make a recognizable visage.  The best model was made from images of me wearing a red cap.  I will upload this file for people to download as well.

 

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Avatar Playhouse

September 18, 2017
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MakeHuman is an open source avatar generation tool which provides a lot of flexibility as far as physical attribute manipulation.  The platform allows you to distort physical features with simple scales, similar to Adobe Fuse.  When modeling, the avatar features can easily become grotesquely comical.  Although the platform is very flexible, it is hard to match personal characteristics and attributes with the given tools.  The base models and attribute choices for manipulation are all very generalized and fail to pick up on the nuances of personal features and diversity.  For example, gender is placed on a slider binary of male to female, where as race is placed on 3 sliders of African, Asian, and Caucasian features and fails to pick up on minority groups within the continental regions.  The realistic nature of the avatars do not work in the platform’s favor.  The characters developed are repulsive and make me feel uneasy because of their visceral uncanniness.  As far as user experience, the flexibility and variety is far too overwhelming to work with.  I became frustrated with the ease to which I could manipulate because I was never able to get it quite right.  It was flexible, but not flexible enough.

The South Park Avatar Creator, on the other hand, allows you to pick from a variety of  simple pre-made attributes.  For instance, skin color is limited to 6 shades. The success of the avatar creator tool is that it is limiting.  Characters made here are comical and resemble the flat paper-like characters found in the South Park show.  The cartoony quality is successful because we don’t become frustrated with the details or with it’s likeliness to ourselves.  We can add character in other ways, such as slapping on some fairy wings.  It is us but it isn’t us at the same time.  We may not look physically the same, but we can express our personalities much more.

That is where the two avatar creation tools differ.  The MakeHuman avatar was too close for comfort and lacked expression.  The South Park avatar looked nothing like me, but exhibited more of my personal interests (even with its limited choices).  MakeHuman as a platform is geared towards VR gaming use for the purpose of creating realistic environments and characters.  South Park is also for the use of games, but the game play is intentionally cartoonish and carefree.

 

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