Section: New Results

Knowledge-based Models for Narrative Design

  • Scientist in charge: Rémi Ronfard.

  • Other permanent researchers: Marie-Paule Cani, Frédéric Devernay, François Faure, Jean-Claude Léon, Olivier Palombi.

Our long term goal is to develop high-level models helping users to express and convey their own narrative content (from fiction stories to more practical educational or demonstrative scenarios). Before being able to specify the narration, a first step is to define models able to express some a priori knowledge on the background scene and on the object(s) or character(s) of interest. Our first goal is to develop 3D ontologies able to express such knowledge. The second goal is to define a representation for narration, to be used in future storyboarding frameworks and virtual direction tools. Our last goal is to develop high-level models for virtual cinematography such as rule-based cameras able to automatically follow the ongoing action and semi-automatic editing tools enabling to easily convey the narration via a movie.

Virtual cameras

Filming live action requires a coincidence of many factors: actors of course, but also lighting, sound capture, set design, and finally the camera (position, frame, and motion). Some of these, such as sound and lighting, can be more or less reworked in post-production, but the camera parameters are usually considered to be fixed at shooting time. We developed two kinds of image-based rendering technique, which allows to change in post-production either the camera frame (in terms of pan, tilt, and zoom), or the camera position.

To be able to change the camera frame after shooting, we developed techniques to construct a video panorama from a set of cameras placed roughly at the same position. Video panorama exhibits a specific problem, which is not present in photo panorama: because the projection centers of the cameras can not physically be at the same location, there is residual parallax between the video sequences, which produce artifacts when the videos are stitched together. Sandra Nabil has worked during her PhD on producing video panoramas without visible artifacts, which can be used to freely pick the camera frame in terms of pan, tilt and zoom during the post-production phase.

Modifying the camera position itself is an even greater challenge, since it either requires a perfect 3D reconstruction of the scene or a dense sampling of the 4D space of optical rays at each time (called the 4D lightfield). During the PhD of Gregoire Nieto, we developed image-based rendering (IBR) techniques which are designed to work in cases where the 3D reconstruction cannot be obtained with a high precision, and the number of cameras used to capture the scene is low, resulting in a sparse sampling of the 4D lightfield.

Virtual actors

Figure 8. Left: Examples of video and animation frames for a dramatic attitude (seductive) played by two semi-professional actors. Right: Prosodic contours for 8 dramatic attitudes, showing evidence that "scandalized" and "thinking" strongly stand out from other attitudes.

Following up on Adela Barbelescu's PhD thesis, we tested the capability of audiovisual parameters (voice frequency, rhythm, head motion and facial expressions) to discriminate among different dramatic attitudes in both real actors (video) and virtual actors (3D animation). Using Linear Discriminant Analysis classifiers, we showed that sentence-level features present a higher discriminating rate among the attitudes and are less dependent on the speaker than frame and sylable features. We also performed perceptual evaluation tests, showing that voice frequency is correlated to the perceptual results for all attitudes, while other features, such as head motion, contribute differently, depending both on the attitude and the speaker. Those new results were presented at the Interspeech conference [16].