Expressive Autonomous Cinematography for Interactive Virtual Environments
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We have created an automatic cinematography system for interactive virtual environments. This system controls a virtual camera and lights in a three-dimensional virtual world inhabited by a group of autonomous and user-controlled characters. By dynamically changing the camera and the lights, our system facilitates the interaction of human participants with this world and displays the emotional content of the digital scene. Building on the tradition of cinema, modern video games, and autonomous behavior systems, we have constructed this cinematography system with an ethologically-inspired structure of sensors, emotions, motivations, and action-selection mechanisms. Our system breaks shots into elements, such as which actors the camera should focus on or the angle it should use to watch them. Hierarchically arranged cross-exclusion groups mediate between the various options, arriving at the best shot at each moment in time. Our cinematography system uses the same approach that we use for our virtual actors. This eases the cross-over of information between them, and ultimately leads to a richer and more unified installation. As digital visualizations grow more complex, cinematography must keep pace with the new breeds of characters and scenarios. A behavior-based autonomous cinematography system is an effective tool in the creation of interesting virtual worlds. Our work takes first steps toward a future of interactive, emotional cinematography.