Reducing animator keyframes
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The aim of this doctoral thesis is to present a body of work aimed at reducing the time spent by animators manually constructing keyframed animation. To this end we present a number of state of the art machine learning techniques applied to the domain of character animation. Data-driven tools for the synthesis and production of character animation have a good track record of success. In particular, they have been adopted thoroughly in the games industry as they allow designers as well as animators to simply specify the high-level descriptions of the animations to be created, and the rest is produced automatically. Even so, these techniques have not been thoroughly adopted in the film industry in the production of keyframe based animation [Planet, 2012]. Due to this, the cost of producing high quality keyframed animation remains very high, and the time of professional animators is increasingly precious. We present our work in four main chapters. We first tackle the key problem in the adoption of data-driven tools for key framed animation - a problem called the inversion of the rig function. Secondly, we show the construction of a new tool for data-driven character animation called the motion manifold - a representation of motion constructed using deep learning that has a number of properties useful for animation research. Thirdly, we show how the motion manifold can be extended as a general tool for performing data-driven animation synthesis and editing. Finally, we show how these techniques developed for keyframed animation can also be adapted to advance the state of the art in the games industry.