Now You Can Turn Yourself Into A Movie-Quality, Animated Zombie And Skype With Friends

Oh, nothing unusual. We’re just chatting with a zombie at SXSW.

[credit provider=”Business Insider”]

At Austin-based technology conference South by Southwest, we ran into Motus Digital, a real-time animation studio.Motus turns actors into animated characters, such as zombies, elves and more. Companies like Disney can use it to let Mickey Mouse chat with children online, for example. Sports programs can use it to turn their mascots into digital, talking creatures.

The experience is similar to how Avatar was filmed, but Motus is able to turn people into digital animations in real time.

Motus has been operating for a few years in Dallas, Texas. It takes about an hour for an actor to get dozens of tiny motion sensors glued to his or her body, so the digital animation can mirror each eyebrow raise and hand wave. The actor we spoke with had sensors glued to his eyelids, which made it look like the animated zombie on the screen could blink.

“By using our proprietary character rig, Persona™ and our smaller and more precise “Performance Capture” stage it allows us to record and render both the body and facial motions of our actors in real-time,” Motus explains on its site. “Essentially we have turned our regular Motion Capture system into a Live Animated puppet. Everything that the actor does in the performance capture stage is immediately applied to the character. We then can feed this video out through any medium where anyone can have live real interactions with an animated CG Character.”

Experiencing the Motus zombie on display at South by Southwest was, in our own words, “trippy.” It took us a moment to realise the Zombie a.) could see us and b.) could talk to us. The graphics are so good and change so quickly, we thought we might be watching a movie. It wasn’t until the zombie turned to us and said, “Hello, girl who is staring at me strangely” that we realised this was happening in real-time.

We then interviewed the zombie, who was controlled by an actor named Chris. Here’s the clip of Motus in action, below.

(Apologies for the poor quality, the video was taken in a noisy, crammed convention centre on an iPhone):

Here’s a video of a Motus actor getting set up to turn into a real-time digital avatar. It’s quite a process: