CSE Alumnus Demonstrates Rapid but Realistic 3D Avatar Creation

Aug 4, 2017
Alumnus Iman Sadeghi at SIGGRAPH

CSE alumnus Iman Sadeghi (M.S., Ph.D. ’08, ’11), who did his dissertation in computer graphics on controlling the appearance of specular microstructures, is now VP of Engineering for a Santa Monica-based startup. That company, Pinscreen, aims to revolutionize digital communication and online human interaction with user-generated and personalized 3D virtual avatars.

Sadeghi and other Pinscreen engineers staged a high-profile demo for Real-Time Live, an “interactive extravaganza” that was part of SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles this week. Like other participants, the team from Pinscreen did real-time demos of the company’s 3D avatar and tracking software (now in beta release). CSE alumnus Sadeghi led the demo on “Creating Performance-Driven Avatars in Seconds”, showing how the software can capture a 2D selfie taken with a webcam and convert it – in a matter of seconds – into a surprisingly realistic 3D avatar “that stops just short of the uncanny valley” (referring to the point at which a robot or avatar is so realistic that a viewer starts to feel uncomfortable with it). The software runs a neural network on a graphics processing unit (GPU).

In the video of Sadeghi’s presentation, the demo at SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live begins at the 49:50 mark. Click here to watch the video on Facebook.

Using the Unity game engine, the Pinscreen team also demonstrated how to insert the rapidly-created 3D avatar into a gaming environment, and showed how the expressive avatar can reflect different light conditions programmed into the game. They also showed 3D avatars draped over participants in real-time videoconferencing.

Sadeghi’s colleagues participating in the demo included Koki Nagano, Jaewoo Seo, and Carrie Sun, all from Pinscreen.