Technology developers Tata Elxsi have created an ‘ePuppet’ technology which allows them to carry out real time 3D animation. This enables companies to have animated brand mascots talking to a live audience without having to record and render thousands of responses.
This technology allows companies to make 3D animation cheaper and faster, which the company believes will have a major impact for marketers. The technology was showcased with the launch of Tata Motors’ Magic Iris vehicle, which was accompanied by an animated car which turned and talked to people, using motion capture based technology to create a ‘live’ animation.
When asked why people would use this technology instead of animation as they are using today, Pankaj Khandpur, Creative Director, Tata Elxsi, said, “There are a lot of cases where you will want to use that technology. You’ll have higher control, for the small nuances. But that is rendered, taking a very long time, as each frame is processed separately, and anytime you want to make a change, the process starts over again. The ePuppet is live, allowing for on the fly creating of the animation. There’s a lot of different technology we use, from cameras to motion tracking to speech synthesis, allowing us to create something which is being made live. So you could have a talk show host for a TV program, which is animated. In France there is a company which has created a newsreader using similar technology. In Disneyland you have completely animated characters which are able to have conversations with the audience, using similar technology too.”
He added, “The advantages are that there is faster, quicker production. Over time, because of the speed, it’s also cheaper to produce animation of this sort. The Magic Iris launch was an example of how you can use the technology. We projected the mascot on the screen, and people could talk to it. It responded to the audience in real time, and looked very believable. We were in talks with Vodafone as well, though that didn’t work out because of time issues. They have kiosks in the malls, and they wanted to put a ‘live’ Zoozoo in each to talk the customers through the services.”
There are many uses that the technology can be put to, anywhere that there is a need for live fulfillment, Khandpur shared. According to him, the technology can be deployed at the retail level, or for product launches like the Magic Iris or for live chats on the Internet.
He said, “We’ll be customising it and hiring the technology out to other marketers as well. It can be used by a host of clients, modeled or refashioned in multiple ways to bring out the best aspects of a brand, product or mascot.”