Electrical Engineering
      and Computer Sciences

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


UC Berkeley


2009 Research Summary

Video Puppetry: A Performative Interface for Cutout Animation

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Connelly Barnes1, David Jacobs2, Jason Sanders3, Dan Goldman4, Szymon Rusinkiewicz5, Adam Finkelstein6 and Maneesh Agrawala

We present a video-based interface that allows users of all skill levels to quickly create cutout-style animations by performing the character motions. The puppeteer first creates a cast of physical puppets using paper, markers, and scissors. He then physically moves these puppets to tell a story.

Using an inexpensive overhead camera our system tracks the motions of the puppets and renders them on a new background while removing the puppeteer's hands. Our system runs in real-time (at 30 fps) so that the puppeteer and the audience can immediately see the animation that is created.

Our system also supports a variety of constraints and effects including articulated characters, multi-track animation, scene changes, camera controls, 21/2D environments, shadows, and animation cycles. Users have evaluated our system both quantitatively and qualitatively:

In tests of low-level dexterity, our system has similar accuracy to a mouse interface. For simple story telling, users prefer our system over either a mouse interface or traditional puppetry. We demonstrate that even first-time users, including an eleven-year-old, can use our system to quickly turn an original story idea into an animation.

Figure 1
Figure 1: A puppeteer (left) manipulates cutout paper puppets tracked in real time (above) to control an animation (below).

1Princeton University
2University of California, Berkeley
3Princeton University
5Princeton University
6Princeton University