The Saliency of Anomalies

in Animated Human Characters

Virtual characters are much in demand for animated movies, games, and other applications. Rapid advances in performance capture and advanced rendering techniques have allowed the movie industry in particular to create characters that appear very human-like. However, with these new capabilities has come the realization that such characters are yet not quite “right.” One possible hypothesis is that these virtual humans fall into an “Uncanny Valley”, where the viewer’s emotional response is repulsion or rejection, rather than the empathy or emotional engagement that their creators had hoped for. To explore these issues, we created three animated vignettes of an arguing couple with detailed motion for the face, eyes, hair, and body. In a set of perceptual experiments, we explore the relative importance of different anomalies using two different methods: a questionnaire to determine the emotional response to the full-length vignettes, with and without facial motion and audio; and a 2AFC (two alternative forced choice) task to compare the performance of a virtual “actor” in short clips (extracts from the vignettes) depicting a range of different facial and body anomalies. We found that the facial anomalies are particularly salient, even when very significant body animation anomalies are present.


Jessica Hodgins (Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research, Pittsburgh)
Sophie Jörg (Trinity College Dublin)
Carol O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin)
Sang Il Park (Sejong University)
Moshe Mahler (Carnegie Mellon University)


"The Saliency of Anomalies in Animated Human Characters"
Jessica Hodgins.
Sophie Jörg, Carol O’Sullivan, Sang Il Park, Moshe Mahler
ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, Vol. 7, Issue 4, Article 22, Publication date: July 2010



Autodesk for their donation of the 3D animation and rendering package Maya, and to Disney Research for summer funding.

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Comments, questions to Jessica HodginsCarnegie Mellon