A Motion Control Scheme for Animating Expressive Arm Movements

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Chi, Diane M.

Current methods for figure animation involve a tradeoff between the level of realism captured in the movements and the ease of generating the animations. We introduce a motion control paradigm that circumvents this tradeoff-it provides the ability to generate a wide range of natural-looking movements with minimal user labor. Effort, which is one part of Rudolf Laban's system for observing and analyzing movement, describes the qualitative aspects of movement. Our motion control paradigm simplifies the generation of expressive movements by proceduralizing these qualitative aspects to hide the non-intuitive, quantitative aspects of movement. We build a model of Effort using a set of kinematic movement parameters that defines how a figure moves between goal keypoints. Our motion control scheme provides control through Effort's four dimensional system of textual descriptors, providing a level of control thus far missing from behavioral animation systems and offering novel specification and editing capabilities on top of traditional keyframing and inverse kinematics methods. Since our Effort model is inexpensive computationally, Effort-based motion control systems can work in real-time. We demonstrate our motion control scheme by implementing EMOTE (Expressive MOTion Engine), a character animation module for expressive arm movements. EMOTE works with inverse kinematics to control the qualitative aspects of end-effector specified movements. The user specifies general movements by entering a sequence of goal positions for each hand. The user then expresses the essence of the movement by adjusting sliders for the Effort motion factors: Space, Weight, Time, and Flow. EMOTE produces a wide range of expressive movements, provides an easy-to-use interface (that is more intuitive than joint angle interpolation curves or physical parameters), features interactive editing, and real-time motion generation.

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University of Pennsylvania Institute for Research in Cognitive Science Technical Report No. IRCS-99-06.
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