You may already know how amazing so-called “projection mapping” technology can be. If you follow pop music, you might have caught IRMA’s latest music video, a single-shot romp through a beautifully rendered projection space. If you’ve been to a high-end sports area, you may have been treated to a full-court projection extravaganza. But you have never seen anything like the work of digital artist Nobumichi Asai and his team of digital designers, CGI experts, and make-up artists.
I’m not even sure how to describe the video below other than “electronic makeup.” It’s astounding. Take a look:
It seems like the “OMOTE” demonstration is a perfect coupling of two technologies that are just starting to blossom: face-tracking and projection-mapping tech. Projection-mapping, like what you’ll see at a lot of sports events these days, is like augmented reality. By first scanning in the surface that will be projected on, designers are able to project and then alter that surface to great effect. In OMOTE, you can see that under everything there is a model’s face (eyes closed, eyebrows covered), but the features of her face are being projected back onto her skin by powerful lights and software. It looks nearly perfect.
The other tech featured here is sophisticated face tracking. The dots spread across the model’s face? Those are infrared markers that help whatever software Asai is using keep up with the model’s movements and change accordingly. It also appears as though the model’s face is scanned beforehand, but that might be a bit of flourish on Asai’s part.
Obviously, the movement of the model has to be fairly slow and smooth to accommodate the software. If you look closely, you can see the slight shaking in the digital makeup as the tracking tech tries to keep up.
Technical details on how Asai’s team crafted this digital makeup haven’t yet been released. I think I like the mystery a bit more.
We have seen how movies and video games have been taking advantage of nearly perfect facial mapping/tracking before, from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to L.A. Noire, but this is clearly the next step. Imagine being able to project high-resolution renderings of makeup and clothing directly onto actor’s bodies as they performed a scene.
But for me, I love the odd and slightly out-of-place future-tech feel.
Kyle Hill is the Chief Science Officer of the Nerdist enterprise. Follow the continued nerdery on Twitter @Sci_Phile.