Facing Forward

Session Description:
This session will explore the future of digitally animated faces. Speakers will present state of the art results in facial modeling and animation. Topics of discussion will further include facial representations, performance capture, expressive speech, emotion, deep fakes, facial perception, and the role of digital faces in human communication.

Session Day and Time: 19 October 1:15pm-2:45pm

Chair Bio:

Karan Singh is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He co-directs a globally reputed graphics and HCI lab, DGP, has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, and has supervised over 40 MS/PhD theses. His research interests lie in interactive graphics, spanning art and visual perception, geometric design and fabrication, character animation and anatomy, and interaction techniques for mobile, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). He has been a technical lead for the Oscar award winning software Maya and was the R&D Director for the 2004 Oscar winning animated short Ryan. He has co-founded multiple companies including Arcestra (architectural design), JALI (facial animation), and JanusVR (Virtual Reality).

Speakers, Affiliation, Bio: 

Hao Li, CEO Pinscreen
Hao Li is a scientist working in the fields of computer graphics and computer vision. He is founder and CEO of Pinscreen, Inc. as well as Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously an associate professor of computer science at the University of Southern California, and former director of the Vision and Graphics Lab at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. He was also a visiting professor at Weta Digital and a research lead at Industrial Light & Magic / Lucasfilm.


Mark Sagar (Soul Machines)

Double Academy Award winner Dr. Mark Sagar is the Co-Founder and CEO of Soul Machines and director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. Mark and his team are bringing technology to life, pioneering the creation of autonomously animated virtual humans with virtual brains and nervous systems, capable of highly expressive face to face interaction and real-time learning and emotional response, to create the next generation of human interaction with artificial intelligence.  

Mark has a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Auckland, and was a post-doctoral fellow at M.I.T. He previously worked as the Special Projects Supervisor at Weta Digital and Sony Pictures Imageworks and developed technology for the digital characters in blockbusters such Avatar, King Kong, and Spiderman 2. His pioneering work in computer-generated faces was recognized with two consecutive Scientific and Engineering Oscars in 2010 and 2011. Mark was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2019.


Pif Edwards (JALI)

Pif Edwards is co-founder and CTO of facial animation tech start-up JALI Inc, and a Computer Science PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. He holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre and a Master’s in Information Retrieval in Bioinformatics as well as ten years of experience in graphic design. This diverse academic and professional background contributes to the unique perspectives in his research, ranging from speech driven animation to story and dialogue centric workflows for complete expressive performances of 3D characters.


Byunkuk Choi, Senior Researcher, Weta Digital
Byungkuk (BK) Choi received his Ph.D degree from KAIST, Korea and is currently working as a senior researcher in Weta Digital, NZ. He is currently leading a facial research team at Weta Digital to build a next-generation facial animation system. His research interests also include character animation, sketch-based interfaces and artist-friendly content creation systems.

Siggraph Asia 2021 Tokyo