Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Virtual You," by Brad Lemley. Discover, July 2001.

This article provides a behind-the-scenes report on how the film industry uses computer modeling to create computer-generated "virtual actors", or "photo-real characters", from filmed humans. A developer at Mitsubishi Electronic Research Labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, claims that this is a mapping problem. Another researcher at Disney research and development calls the problem one of fluid dynamics of the facial tissues. These and other researchers are striving to use state-of-the-art computer science to create "perfect" cyber people. "One of the great mysteries of computer animation is that even when the software says the physics are mathematically perfect, it can still look weird," the article says. So scientists who do graphic modeling work with artists to emulate filmed humans.

--- Annette Emerson