Published: 03 May 2016

University wins new research projects in VR and animation

Surrey has been awarded funding for two new collaborative R&D projects by InnovateUK, demonstrating its leading reputation for research in the creative industries sector.

The two projects – which involve collaboration with companies at the cutting edge of Virtual Reality (VR) and animation – are being led at Surrey by Professor Adrian Hilton, Head of the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP). They now bring the total number of Surrey projects funded under InnovateUK’s Cross Platform Production in Digital Media to four – more than any other UK university.

The first project, ALIVE (Live Action Lightfields for Immersive Virtual Reality Experiences) aims to create VR experiences that use live action video based on lightfield technology (a technique which captures information about the intensity and direction of light) to give a much more realistic appearance and a greater sense of immersion than is currently possible.

This 18-month project will be a collaboration between CVSSP and leading visual effects software developer The Foundry, and Figment Productions, a creative production company specialising in VR.

Surrey has also won funding for Total Capture, a project focused on enabling teams of creative professionals to create real-time animation collaboratively on set using enhanced performance capture technologies, without the need for extensive technician support.

The goal of this 18-month project will be to develop highly automated, easy-to-use technologies that reduce costs and merge the current five stages of animation (development, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution). The research will support the creation of animation for a wide range of end uses including movies, TV, video games, and visual effects in live theatre or concern performances. It will see Surrey working closely with partners The Imaginarium (Europe’s leading performance capture studio) and Numerion (a specialist in physics engines for visual effects and video games).

Professor Adrian Hilton commented, “CVSSP has an outstanding track-record of collaboration with the UK creative industries leading to impact on tools and technologies used in film, TV and games. Examples include the CVSSP spin-out company Imagineer Systems which received a Technical OSCAR in 2013 and long-standing strategic partnership with the BBC in audio and video analysis for TV content production."

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