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If AI is the "engine" and data is the "fuel", the current prosperity of virtual digital humans (hereinafter referred to as digital humans) has greatly liberated human productivity. Under the normalization of epidemic prevention and control, new digital requirements have caused major industries to enter people's lives in the form of new product applications such as AI+ smart media, smart customer service, smart doctors, and smart driving.

Driven by the wave of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, the process of digital humans has also been effectively simplified, and the performance of all aspects has been greatly improved. It has begun to gradually deepen from the digitalization of appearance to the interaction of behavior and the intelligentization of ideas. Digital people represented by virtual anchors and virtual employees have also successfully entered the public eye.

What Is Digital Human

Digital human refers to a virtual person with a digital appearance. It virtually simulates the shape and function of the human body at different levels via the methods of information science and is a general term for related fields in the developing stage.

Unlike robots with physical entities, digital humans rely on display devices to exist. The digital humans should have the following three characteristics: first, the appearance of the owner, with specific features such as appearance, gender, and personality; second, the behavior of the owner, with the ability to express with language, facial expressions and body movements; It is the thought of the owner, the ability to recognize the external environment, and to communicate and interact with others.

Digital human can be regarded as AI-powered customer experience ambassadors which can reconstruct human-to-human interactions on an unlimited scale.

Starting from the emergence of smart-driven digital humans, years of development have allowed digital humans to penetrate into various industries. At present, according to different application scenarios or industries, digital human such as entertainment, education, assistant, and film and television have appeared.

The Development of Digital Human

The development of digital humans is inseparable from the advancement of production technology. From the earliest hand-drawn to the current CG (Computer Graphics) and artificial intelligence synthesis, digital humans have roughly experienced four stages: germination, exploration, primary and growth.

The Development of Digital Human

The Development of Digital Human

In the 1980s, people began to try to introduce virtual characters into the real world, and virtual digital people entered the embryonic stage. During this period, the production technology of virtual digital humans was mainly hand-drawn, and the application was extremely limited.

At the beginning of the 21st century, traditional hand-painting was gradually replaced by CG, motion capture and other technologies, and virtual digital humans entered the stage of exploration.

In the past five years, thanks to breakthroughs in deep learning algorithms, the production process of digital humans has been effectively simplified, and virtual digital humans have begun to get on the right track and enter the initial stage. During this period, artificial intelligence became an inseparable tool of virtual digital humans, and intelligent-driven digital humans began to emerge.

Digital humans are developing towards intelligence, convenience, refinement and diversification, and their technology is being comprehensively improved and breakthroughs.

Key technologies of virtual digital humans

Modeling and rendering are two key technologies that involved in the production process of virtual digital humans.

The current modeling types mainly include traditional industrial modeling and AI intelligent modeling. The former relies on 3D artists' proficiency in modeling software and superb artistic skills, while the latter incorporates the latest AI+ technology in the digital age, through accurate 3D light field reconstruction algorithms and artificial intelligence technology, helps complete modeling in a more efficient and intelligent way.

The author was fortunate to listen to the speech of Jonathan Cheetham, VFX Supervisor at Jellyfish Pictures on “Delving into Digital humans” at the Vertex Conference on February 25. Using examples from hit shows including Netflix’s The Innocents and HBO’s Watchmen, Jonathan demonstrated the importance of understanding the “nuances and subtleties needed to create a photoreal person, and the vital relationship between the 2D and 3D teams”, who’s individual skills and collaboration are integral to the final look. For more details, please visit the Jellyfish Pictures official website.

The current mainstream rendering methods include pre-rendering and real-time rendering. Comparing the two technologies, the pre-rendering rendering obtains a more refined picture effect at the cost of a longer time, while the real-time rendering sacrifices the fineness of the picture in order to achieve the purpose of adjusting and seeing the picture at any time. According to usual experience, pre-rendering mainly relies on the computing power of the central processing unit (CPU), and real-time rendering mainly relies on the computing power of the graphics processing unit (GPU). However, this law has gradually become blurred with the advancement of hardware technology (better nanotechnology) and software technology (more powerful drivers and algorithms).

With the improvement cloud technology, render farms like XRender is now offering cloud rendering services all over the world, allowing more 3d creators to enjoy a more efficient, cost-effective and reliable cloud pre-rendering experience remotely.

The reasons why you should choose XRender are as follows:

Massive cutting-edge computing resources located in Singapore, ensure all your rendering demands simultaneously at any time.

Dedicated Aspera transmission solutions provided by IBM, move your projects data at maximum speed.

Self-developed multi-level Account system by XRender R&D team, optimize the project management according to you demand.

Professional technical service team stands by for 24/7 online, provide your project the most reliable escorted tour.

Accurate billing system based on thread hours, offering you the transparent price with the most cost-effective service.

Exclusive render nodes and channels for confidential files and projects, provide reliable protection during the whole workflow.

Comprehensive software and plugins are supported, seamless connection with the market to meet user needs in real time.

As for the real-time rendering , 3D engines such as UnrealEngine 4, CryEngine 3, Unity 3D 5, all have their own PBRPhysically Based Renderingtechnology, which is a collection of rendering technologies based on the imaging laws of the real physical world, making the visual effects more photoreal by more realistically reflecting the strength of the reflected light and refracted light on the surface of the model.

Digital Human Industry Application

At present, the theory and technology of virtual digital humans are becoming more mature and the scope of application is expanding. The industry is gradually forming and enriching, while the corresponding business models are also evolving and diversifying.

Virtual digital human industry

Virtual digital human industry

Source: 2020 White Paper on the Development of Virtual Digital Humans by AIIA and ZAI

Through the integration of virtual digital human products with production and life, its large-scale, customizable, and replicable capabilities can promote the improvement of traditional link processes, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, greatly enhance business experience, and use a diversified attitude in film and television, Games, media, cultural tourism, finance and many other fields are empowered to bring changes to traditional industries.

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