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Real-time human performance capture and synthesis


Habermann,  Marc
Computer Graphics, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

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Habermann, M. (2021). Real-time human performance capture and synthesis. PhD Thesis, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken. doi:10.22028/D291-34961.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-7D87-3
Most of the images one finds in the media, such as on the Internet or in textbooks and magazines, contain humans as the main point of attention. Thus, there is an inherent necessity for industry, society, and private persons to be able to thoroughly analyze and synthesize the human-related content in these images. One aspect of this analysis and subject of this thesis is to infer the 3D pose and surface deformation, using only visual information, which is also known as human performance capture. Human performance capture enables the tracking of virtual characters from real-world observations, and this is key for visual effects, games, VR, and AR, to name just a few application areas. However, traditional capture methods usually rely on expensive multi-view (marker-based) systems that are prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people, or they use depth sensors, which are still not as common as single color cameras. Recently, some approaches have attempted to solve the task by assuming only a single RGB image is given. Nonetheless, they can either not track the dense deforming geometry of the human, such as the clothing layers, or they are far from real time, which is indispensable for many applications. To overcome these shortcomings, this thesis proposes two monocular human performance capture methods, which for the first time allow the real-time capture of the dense deforming geometry as well as an unseen 3D accuracy for pose and surface deformations. At the technical core, this work introduces novel GPU-based and data-parallel optimization strategies in conjunction with other algorithmic design choices that are all geared towards real-time performance at high accuracy. Moreover, this thesis presents a new weakly supervised multiview training strategy combined with a fully differentiable character representation that shows superior 3D accuracy. However, there is more to human-related Computer Vision than only the analysis of people in images. It is equally important to synthesize new images of humans in unseen poses and also from camera viewpoints that have not been observed in the real world. Such tools are essential for the movie industry because they, for example, allow the synthesis of photo-realistic virtual worlds with real-looking humans or of contents that are too dangerous for actors to perform on set. But also video conferencing and telepresence applications can benefit from photo-real 3D characters, as they can enhance the immersive experience of these applications. Here, the traditional Computer Graphics pipeline for rendering photo-realistic images involves many tedious and time-consuming steps that require expert knowledge and are far from real time. Traditional rendering involves character rigging and skinning, the modeling of the surface appearance properties, and physically based ray tracing. Recent learning-based methods attempt to simplify the traditional rendering pipeline and instead learn the rendering function from data resulting in methods that are easier accessible to non-experts. However, most of them model the synthesis task entirely in image space such that 3D consistency cannot be achieved, and/or they fail to model motion- and view-dependent appearance effects. To this end, this thesis presents a method and ongoing work on character synthesis, which allow the synthesis of controllable photoreal characters that achieve motion- and view-dependent appearance effects as well as 3D consistency and which run in real time. This is technically achieved by a novel coarse-to-fine geometric character representation for efficient synthesis, which can be solely supervised on multi-view imagery. Furthermore, this work shows how such a geometric representation can be combined with an implicit surface representation to boost synthesis and geometric quality.