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PhD Studentship: Digital Humans: Automatic Character Animation (TAYLORS_U20SCIEP)

University of East Anglia - Computing Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Funding is for 3.5 years and will be available to successful candidates who meets the UK Research Council eligibility criteria
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th December 2019
Closes: 30th January 2020

Supervisor: Dr. Sarah Taylor

Digital humans are a key component of animated television and film productions, and computer games. Traditionally, character animation is created offline by artists. However, interactive online computer gaming, and social virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems demand real-time and dynamically generated content. Automatically animated characters provide the feeling of natural communication on these platforms, leading to a more immersive experience. When combined with natural language processing and speech synthesisers, they can also perform autonomously as digital assistants or conversational agents.

Historically, the field has been predominantly focused on animating the faces of digital characters along with speech. However, the non-verbal components of speech (face and body gesture) are key to both speech comprehension and for realistic character interaction. The main goal of the proposed project is to create a digital avatar that moves its body naturally and reacts appropriately to stimuli such as speech (speaking, laughing, coughing and listening), and changes in environment. Specifically, it will involve exploring the relationship between such stimuli and body motion. It will require the design, capture and analysis of a human motion dataset and the development of a suitable computational model for inferring body pose for changing inputs.

Person Specification:

A good degree in computing science, mathematics, engineering or similar is required. An interest in speech and language processing, computer graphics or machine learning is desirable.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding notes:

This PhD project is in an EPSRC studentship competition within the Faculty of Science. Funding is for 3.5 years and will be available to successful candidates who meets the UK Research Council eligibility criteria. These requirements are detailed in the Research Council Training Grant Guide which can be found at (see Annex 1 for Residential Guidelines for Research Council Studentships). In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award.

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