August 12, 2008

Spore Experts Share Animation Techniques at SIGGRAPH 2008

Technical content being presented at SIGGRAPH 2008 includes the techniques behind the animation development in Spore, the latest interactive video game due to launch worldwide in September 2008. Spore, produced by the makers of the popular Sims games, is an Internet-based game that enables users to create a species of creatures, grow them from cellular to full-scale life forms, and share their evolved creatures with other players interactively worldwide. As part of the SIGGRAPH 2008 Technical Papers program, Spore experts will present their latest research, "Real-Time Motion Retargeting to Highly Varied User-Created Morphologies." This paper presents an inside look behind the animation authoring tool that makes it possible for users to create the Spore creatures and bring them to life.

"As the field of computer graphics matures, we will continue to see graphics practitioners take on novel challenges that were not even considered just a few years ago," comments Greg Turk, SIGGRAPH 2008 Technical Papers chair from the Georgia Institute of Technology. "The modeling and animation techniques used in Spore will inspire others to think more creatively about user-created content in computer games."

The authoring system used in Spore animates characters whose shapes are unknown to the animator since the bodies are user-generated. The authoring tool enables animators to visually describe motion using familiar posing and key-framing methods. It records the data in a body-independent form, preserving both the animation's structural relationships and its stylistic information. During game play, this motion information is applied to specific characters to yield body-dependent pose constraints that are supplied to a robust and efficient inverse-kinematics solver.