May 3rd, 2002

Title : Physics-based Character Animation

Petros Faloutsos
Computer Science Department, UCLA

An ambitious goal in the area of physics-based computer animation is the creation of virtual actors that autonomously synthesize realistic human motions and possess a broad repertoire of lifelike motor skills. To this end, the control of dynamic, anthropomorphic figures subject to gravity and contact forces remains a difficult open problem. We propose a framework for composing controllers in order to enhance the motor abilities of such figures. A key contribution of our composition framework is an explicit model of the ``pre-conditions'' under which motor controllers are expected to function properly. We demonstrate controller composition with pre-conditions determined not only manually, but also automatically based on Support Vector Machine (SVM) learning theory. We evaluate our composition framework using a family of controllers capable of synthesizing basic actions such as balance, protective stepping when balance is disturbed, protective arm reactions when falling, and multiple ways of standing up after a fall. We furthermore demonstrate these basic controllers working in conjunction with more dynamic motor skills within a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional prototype virtual stuntperson. Our composition framework promises to enable the community of physics-based animation practitioners to more easily exchange motor controllers and integrate them into dynamic characters.