Tata Elxsi creates live interactive animated ePuppet ‘Magic Iris‘ for Tata Motors

The latest creation of Visual Computing Labs, a business division of Tata Elxsi, ‘Magic Iris‘ India‘s first interactive ePuppet hosted the launch of Tata Motor‘s latest offerings, Tata Magic Iris and ACE Zip recently at the Turf Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai. Magic Iris is a cute looking Red car which can talk, laugh and dance all in real time. The launch saw interaction between Magic Iris the ePuppet and the attending professionals from different fields and professions wherein Magic Iris ePuppet was answering questions in real time. The ePuppet is a live 3D animated interactive character that can interact and respond in real time to questions and answers and that to in full render quality. It has been developed by the Tata Elxsi studio and Pankaj Khandpur (Creative Director, VCL, Tata Elxsi) is the brains behind this unique mascot. The character design of Magic Iris ePuppet was developed by the team of Tata Elxsi and around 5 artists have worked on it. It‘s fully 3D animated, shaded with thousands of polygons . Speaking to AnimationXpress.com Pankaj Khandpur shared, “Basically it‘s the interactive tool that we have developed. We have taken sort of hardware input and put it on the 3D character and re-created it so you can animate in real time and render in real time. So Magic Iris ePuppet performs live to audience.” The character of Magic Iris ePuppet is being performed by an actor all the time to enable the real time interaction but it hasnt been done through regular motion capture. “The original plan was to use very complex motion capture but it turned out to be impractical because of two reasons one it was very expensive and second it required lot of space, lot of 3D and lot of set up time,” he added. Magic Iris ePuppet‘s character is based on Tata Motors‘ Magic Iris vehicle. Tata Motors have come up with the original idea. The face of the car looks almost human like so the team expanded the idea and created lips and eyes. The main purpose for creating this ePuppet was to launch the Tata Motors latest offerings. And it will also be used for the road shows that will happen at multi-centres across India. It will also be used wherever they are promoting and selling Tata Motors and for the launch in various towns. It‘s not meant for advertising it‘s more for pre-sale marketing and to be shown to the dealers. It‘s not meant for end consumers. Explaining the difference between Mocap and the technology used for making this ePuppet Pankaj explains, “Traditionally motion capture relies upon certain matters on the body and then grabs data with infrared camera so that data is transferred onto the mocap technology system which is then applied to the 3D character. In principle the technology we have used is mocap but simpler form of mocap and it‘s using other clues that mocap doesn‘t, for example – mocap doesn‘t capture voice but this is capturing voices. It captures voice. And when a person say a,e,i,o,u all those actions and expressions‘ libraries are created. So when you speak it gets projected on the character and it changes the mouth of the character the same way”. Magic Iris, the cute, lovable and happy-to-go-lucky kind of character is a new addition to the long lists of mascots in Indian market but still stands out to be the one of its kind. It can interact with people for a long time unless the actor performing feels exhausted that is. Because it is real-time and interactive, the ePuppet technology can be used beyond marketing and advertising as well. Real-time motion capture and lip-sync can be used for creating complete animated character projects as well, including episodic television, virtual ‘talk-show‘ hosts etc. connect@animationxpress.com

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