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Virtual Puppets

On screen images manipulated by physical mannequin
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I just visited a Christmas fair at which one of the stands had beautifully carved and decorated puppets. I reflected on how sad it is that these works of art have largely passed out of the lives of our children.

So, to get them back in, this idea is to create a utility mannequin, either poseable like those art-shop mannequins, or manipulated by strings like traditional puppets. The mannequin would then plug into the PC or Ninendo, where all movements are translated into the movements of the colorful character(s) on the screen, personas created from traditional and other puppet forms. (I realise that I don't quite know how to get the relative spatial positioning, but I'm sure there's a way to work that out.)

With frame-by-frame and playback options and perhaps two or three mannequins, the child could build up complicated animated stories to send to the doting grandparents who bought them the set in the first place.

That way, children could play act (a fundamentally important part of growing up), have beautiful (if entirely on-screen) puppets, and still be able to show off their latest Ninendo/PC game to their friends.

DrCurry, Dec 12 2002

Animation Armatures http://www.armaverse.com/products.html
For computer input, these are connected to sesors as the joints. [ConsultingDetective, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) "By the way, the technology behind Waldo C Graphic has matured into this:" http://www.ueidaq.c...ress/appstories/49/
Replacement for the link from baze's annotation, which no longer works. (Thanks, Joshua!) [jutta, Jan 24 2007]



       Do the gaming systems have the needed storage to store the program for playback? I think the X-box has a hard drive. It seems like it would be relatively easy on a PC. Maybe (mis)use some existing standard like MIDI as the interface?   

       I'm assuming that the playback to the doting grandparents would be accomplished by recording the "show" on a VCR? That part wouldn't be as easy if implemented on a PC.   

       Might be interesting if the motion was read from a position-sensor-containing "suit" that the kids wear instead of from a manequin.   

       If limited to "South Park" style animation, the effort required to develop this system would likely be much easier.
half, Dec 12 2002

       Yeah. Of course this won't be used for making cute movies to send to gramps, it will be used as a controller for fighting games...
egnor, Dec 12 2002

       Wonderful idea! (which I had too a while back when I was working for protozoa, a company that tried to make money with virtual puppets). Back then it would have been N64's and PowerGloves. Today it would be GameCubes or Xbox's and... well that's the problem. No *cheap* controller exists at the moment. At Siggraph this year there were a number of useful technologies (and even companies, mostly foreign) for doing virtual puppets, but only at the high end.   

       By the way, the technology behind Waldo C Graphic has matured into this: http://www.ueidaq.com/appstories/data-acquisition-animatronics/cgi_zahn.jpg   

       Performing it is like playing 3 or 4 XBox games at once.
baze, Aug 14 2003

       This is done in film special effects using machined armatures with sensors [link]. For more practical home use, imagine a GI Joe with inexpensive sensors--similar to those in a game controller--in the joints.
ConsultingDetective, Feb 01 2004


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