From Friday 26 August onwards
Hull Central Library
Computer scientists at the University of Hull have brought two of the city’s most famous heroes back to ‘life’ with blockbusting technology.
Digital 3D versions of Amy Johnson and William Wilberforce have being created using the same techniques as a Hollywood film, resulting in life-sized interactive projections and screenings of the characters at various points across Hull.
The characters are recreated based on the recorded movements of live actors using full body motion tracking and facial capture techniques. These are the same technologies used by Hollywood studios to create creatures and characters for films such as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the Hulk character in the Marvel Avengers films.
The characters are being created utilising the expertise at Hull’s Immersive Virtual Environment (HIVE), part of the University of Hull’s Computer Science department, and experts in 3D visualisation the Digital Design Studio at the Glasgow School of Art. Once they have captured the raw footage, the team apply 3D modelling visual effects and animation techniques to create the digital characters.
Dr Jon Purdy, HIVE Centre Manager at the University of Hull, said: “It’s an honour to get the opportunity to recreate two pioneering historical figures using movie-standard special effects. The technology we’ve adopted means the Amy and William characters will be recreated in a very realistic way and in high definition. The characters will recount stories from their life – retelling significant points in history in an unusual and interactive way.”
Professor Stephanie Haywood, School of Engineering at the University of Hull, said: “We are proud to join forces with the Amy Johnson Festival in celebrating one of city’s most prominent pioneers. Although underpinned by science and maths, engineering is also very much about art and design. This ambitious festival creates a fantastic way to make the relationship between art and engineering – a connection we are passionate about making.”
Dr Paul Chapman, Acting Director of the Digital Design Studio at the GSA said: “We’re very happy to have worked with the University of Hull on this project creating the high quality motion capture and 3D modelling of Amy Johnson and William Wilberforce. We feel positive that the exhibition will be a success and will highlight the incredible lives of these two pioneers”.
Virtual Amy is also produced in conjunction with theatre group Ensemble 52 who provided the characters’ script, and supported by Hull City Council and James Reckitt Library Trust. She will now be on display in the Children’s Library within Hull Central Library from Friday 26 August.
Rick Welton, Amy Johnson Festival Director, said: “The Virtual Amy project showcases how the technology and engineering can be used to create something visually stunning. The aim of the Amy Johnson Festival is to inspire people, especially women, to take an interest in engineering, as well as demonstrating how engineering blends with art and design.
“We are delighted to be partnered with the University of Hull as one of our key sponsors.”
The William Wilberforce digital character is currently being constructed and will be available to view at various points within Hull’s city centre in 2017. The project is being led by the University’s world-leading Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation which carries out transformational research into historical and contemporary slavery and emancipation issues.
Professor John Oldfield, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, said: “Recreating Wilberforce has been an extremely rewarding collaborative project. It has also been an exciting opportunity for one of our Drama students, who has helped us to bring Wilberforce to life by performing as William during the motion capture element of the process. Working with HIVE and the Digital Design Studio at Glasgow School of Art has opened up new and innovative ways of interpreting historical characters and getting across important messages about slavery and Hull’s legacy of freedom.”