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INTiMATE will let you talk to characters to control them

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Motion-capture solving and retargeting tools developer IKinema has announced INTiMATE: a new work-in-progress technology intended to allow users to create animation using simple written or voice commands.

The system retargets prerecorded animations to a run-time rig in response to natural-language instructions.

The demo video above shows the technology in action within Maya, with a 3D character responding in real time to typed commands like ‘crouch moving forwards’ and ‘stop and stand up’.

Strange – but not unprecedented for graphics tools
Although the idea of creating animation by talking to a character sounds like science fiction, the idea isn’t without precedent in the world of professional graphics tools.

Andersson Technologies’ SynthEyes now features a similar natural-language system, enabling users to control the camera-tracking application via text or voice commands.

How far that idea extends to animation is a matter of debate: it’s easy to see possibilities for previz or games work, but it’s hard to tell if you could create anything more nuanced.

Intended for integration into any animation package
So far, there isn’t much more detail about INTiMATE, which is the result of a two-year research project funded by the UK government’s Innovate UK program.

Although primarily targeted at consumer applications, IKinema claims the system could “create vast opportunities for professional animators”. The firm aims to make an SDK available for any animation package.

The company currently has a “working prototype” and has “engaged with top studios” to validate the technology, which is expected to become commercially available in 2016.

Read more about INTiMATE on IKinema’s website

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