Forget top models. With haute couture turning to virtual reality, holographic versions of the world’s most in-demand models are now striding down the catwalks alongside their human counterparts. But does this mean temperamental models are on their way out? New research has been revealed which shows it could be the end of the fashion world as we know it.
A study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education investigates the production of a realistic virtual human for animation and reveals that avatars are the way forward in a number of sectors, including fashion.
Led by two scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, the research illustrates the ‘workflow for producing and animating a realistic virtual human …using infrared depth sensing technology’. Although the study is part of a project aimed at ‘recording the motion of ballet dancers for both performance analysis and corrective coaching’ explain the authors, the techniques used to produce the avatar could have applications within a range of disciplines, including performing arts, sports and fashion. Several investigative methods were used to bring the avatar to life; from an inertial motion capture suit fitted with sensors recording the movements of a dancer, to a BVH (Biovision Hierarchy) file providing information on skeleton hierarchy. An infrared 3D body scanner, ordinarily employed in the dress making industry for the purpose of garment design and sizing standards development, was also utilised to translate the measurements of a scanned human subject onto a virtual character mesh. After a good deal of rigging and data processing, life was successfully breathed into the avatar by 3D modelling and animation software.
No doubt this exciting new study prepares the grounds for future investigations, and the Manchester team are already looking to take things further in the virtual environment and develop even more realistic and accurate avatars. While the focus of their research remains on dance and the development of analysis tools for corrective training, they are keen to emphasise the interdisciplinary application of their finding. With fashion design being one of the fields of operation, is the tide turning against supermodels now?