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Alternatives to expert systems for real-time character deformation

Project Description

This project is a collaboration between Bournemouth University and Ninja Theory (, a games development studio based in Cambridge with which BU (and the lead supervisor) has already collaborated on a Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE) EngD project in the past. It should also be mentioned that Ninja Theory has a very significant relationship with Microsoft, with the company acquired by the latter in 2018. The company is also much decorated in terms of awards, with 5 BAFTA awards last year for their last game (Hellblade) and a SIGGRAPH Real Time Live! award in 2016.

The background of the project is the following; traditional methods for real-time character deformation have so far relied heavily on hand-crafted bespoke systems to produce results. Examples of these systems include clothing simulation and muscle/skin-deformation simulation. From this, the following research question can then be defined; can we create a system to automatically generate data, renderable in real-time, that accurately and realistically captures character deformation, without the need for expert setup or intervention? An example, but not necessarily, or by any means the only way of doing this, might be to capture images or video (or similar) of the desired deformation in real-life (whether that is muscle deformation or clothing, or indeed another deformation) and observe if we can produce a system that can output data such as blend-shapes and weights, or an alternate parametric system, that can then, subsequently, be used in real-time within a computer/video game.

At this stage of formulating the research question the specific niche area/improvement/generalisation of precisely where the doctoral contribution will be is difficult to define, however, the context of the direction is clearly described above. It should also be noted that there is, according to the research we have done so far, significant limitations of the current approaches in terms of applying past work in this area to real-time scenarios (i.e. games, which is what Ninja Theory is primarily interested in), which will be a significant technical and academic challenge in itself for the project described.

How to apply:

Applications are made via our website using the Apply Online button below. If you have an enquiry about this project please contact us via the Email NOW button below, however your application will only be processed once you have submitted an application form as opposed to emailing your CV to us.

Candidates for funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years.

The PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and international students. Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years and must demonstrate:

• A 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent. If English is not your first language you’ll need IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component).

Funding Notes

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £15,000 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

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