MovieReshape: New abs for old actors

Program being developed in Germany would let filmmakers easily manipulate actors' body proportions without frame-by-frame manipulation. Exhibit A: Hoff-free "Baywatch" example.

Hmmm, how can we make this guy look like George Clooney? Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Want giant biceps in all those home videos you're posting to YouTube? Forget hassling with barbells and simply adjust the muscularity control slider in MovieReshape, an image alteration program developed at the Max Planck Institut Informatik in Germany. The system allows for "quick and easy manipulation of the body shape and proportions of a human actor in arbitrary video footage"--without frame-by-frame manipulation.

The approach is based on a morphable 3D model of human shapes and poses derived from laser scans of more than 100 men and women of various shapes and sizes. The program--which is currently in the research stage and will be presented at Siggraph Asia in December--maps the malleable 3D model to video footage of the actor in need of a makeover. Users then go about making that 3D model taller, shorter, bustier, and so on, with the changed proportions of the virtual person then applied to the actor in all video frames using image warping.

In the video below, you'll see how the program subtly but realistically buffed up a "Baywatch" actor (no, not the Hoff).

The most obvious landing pad for MovieReshape would be Hollywood, where the program could one day turn Wallace Shawn into Arnold Schwarzenegger. But presumably, it could also be used by amateur filmmakers, kind of like a Photoshop for video, to make Uncle Bob and Aunt Mabel expand and contract at will without gyms and push-up bras.

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


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