Computer models of moving bodies form the basis of numerous areas of research: for automatic analysis and recognition of human activity (computer vision), work on animated avatars, research on soft robots or movement analysis.
ETH researchers will now be able to create such models more quickly and easily thanks to a new laboratory on Heinrichstrasse in Zurich. At the Volumetric Capture Lab, which at first glance looks like a photo or film studio, ETH professors Otmar Hilliges, Marc Pollefeys, Markus Gross, Stelian Coros (all D-INFK) and William Taylor (D-HEST) have put Microsoft technology into operation with special cameras. The system is being used for research purposes at ETH Zurich for the first time in the world, having previously been used mainly in film studios.
Until now, special dark suits with white reflector dots were necessary for such shots (example in ETH News from 2018), as is known from the film industry.
The new system does not involve such suits and, instead of markers, captures the surface of the entire body in high resolution, including texture and colour. The system, which is licensed by Microsoft, is located in a green room and records body movements with more than 100 spherically arranged high-speed RGB and infrared cameras.
The new ETH laboratory offers opportunities for collaboration across disciplines, says research director Otmar Hilliges, who could also imagine collaborating with industrial partners in the field of computer vision. The Volumetric Capture Lab was co-financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and was officially opened on 29 June. As a bonus, visitors were able to create animated holograms of themselves.