Klaus Förger defended his dissertation “From motion capture to performance synthesis: A data based approach on full-body animation” in Aalto University, School of Science. As the opponent served Associate Professor Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson, Reykjavik University, Iceland, and as the custos Professor Tapio Takala, Aalto University. The main topic of the dissertation is how to control the style of moving virtual characters with phrases of natural language. Motion style was a central theme and it was studied in context of a single character as well as within the interaction between two characters. In the lection precursoria, Förger described the background, motivation and main results of the work. The disseratation work includes collaboration within the Multimodally Grounded Language Technology project.
The opponent opened his commentary by stating that he is very excited about the work. A number of general themes related to the work as well as details were discussed. Prof. Högni Vilhjálmsson mentioned that there are 250 joints in the human body to characterize the complexity of human movement. He brought up an giving the virtual body some self-awareness. How to detect unnaturalness was also discussed. In general, how to debug human motion? Förger explained that one option is to measure if the generated movement deviates too much from the examples. Movement styles were discussed in detail. Some styles such as depressed and weak are interrelated styles. It was also discussed how would it be to extending the work to facial expressions. Prof. Högni Vilhjálmsson has been active in applying Behavioral Markup Language (BML). The relatioship between representations such as BML and data-driven approaches was discussed. During the defence Förger visualized the results both by showing exanples by himself as well as by demonstrating the systems that he had developed during the work.
Högni Vilhjálmsson mentioned that the work is highly interdisciplinary and presented an intriguing final question: "What have you learned about life?" Förger answered referring to different points of view and the synthesis of those points of view provides a valuable view on the whole.