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Angel
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marcus
Early in 1997 while demonstrating the Medialab Performance animation system in L.A. we were visited by a man from the X Files.
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He was very interested in the technology and wanted a demonstration of what could be done with it.
The main characters we used for demonstrations were Donkey Kong and his pals.

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We did all the demonstrations 'live' having the character  interact with the visitor composited on a TV screen.
I did all the facial performance animation and lipsinc of Donkey Kong as well as the live voice while the body performance animation, using a motion capture system was done by another puppeteer (a brilliant one) Helena Smee.
Helena managed to get just the right balance of strong characterization and performance with accurate on screen animation and between us we created a completely integrated and believable Real Time Animated character.

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The man from the X files seemed happy enough but left without saying anything.
On the desk jotter was written just one word 'Joel'.
Shortly after that we received a new character from Paris over the Internet.
A very naturalistic human female character that Medialab Paris had been quietly working on for some time.
A character they called 'Angel'. 
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Angel was a very advanced CG model and we enjoyed experimenting with her animation.
Her being so naturalistic had it's own complex challenges in terms of animation and character creation.
Very different from those of the more cartoon style characters we were used too.
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We didn't fall into the obvious trap of simply mimicking reality, being already aware that many things that we accept as believable with people in everyday life are simply not believable on an animated character. Lipsinc being just one. Which is incidentally why I don't think facial trackers work as the actor ends up trying to puppeteer/animate the character with their face.
Lots of better and less excruciating input devices.
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Angel did however very quickly seem to take on a character all of her own.
Maybe it was her own?
8bd At the same time more and more strange people started dropping by wanting to see and discuss Angel.
There was a long haired guy in an Army Humvee, a French Aristocrat and a couple of very well dressed quiet guys.
One of the pair was very bright but seemed obsessed with how fast a trigger finger could be pulled and the other guy had a very long pony tail.
He laughed infectiously
and smiled all the time.
I only knew these two as very early members of the 'Rosanne' fan club.
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Then we had a phone call out of the blue from the X files guy.
Could we go and meet a man up in the Canyon to talk about Angel.
We did. He described his House as 'OK for a rental' and that we could call him 'The Director' adding that he had just got back from Canada where he had been working on an X file himself.

He made us a coffee, showed us an old 80's movie and we discussed the merits of some Bananarama covers.
Just as we were about to leave he gave us some voice tapes on DAT to 'practice Venus's lipsinc to.'
Thanks!

4bc We had fun lipsincing Angel to the tracks and developing her character further until one day Medialab Paris asked us to take the the SGI Computer, Angel files and tapes out to a large Hanger in East Hollywood.
The Guy from the X files was there and all the other strange people we had met earlier while we were developing Angel's characterization.
The Guy who described himself as 'The Director' looked completely different though and I hardly recognised him.
They wanted to test Angel as they had 'a big job for her'.
We made our excuses and left.
We never saw Angel again.
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You Tube clip from TV Pilot

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Angels
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