Ubisoft shows off machine learning tool for modelling animals

The tool is currently just a prototype

Ubisoft has recently shown off its ZooBuilder AI tool, a piece of software that can take footage of animals and make skeletons for in-game models.

Typically, when it comes to animating animals in games, most of it is done manually. It’s difficult to motion capture an animal, particularly something like a predator. So Ubisoft La Forge has been working on what it calls ZooBuilder, an AI tool that uses machine learning from videos to create animations of animals.

Ubisoft showed off the ZooBuilder tool through a video on Twitter, explaining the process of how it works, and the reasons for developing it.


“It all started when we did not find a volunteer to setup the mocap suit on a bear,” tweeted the Ubisoft La Forge Twitter account, presumably joking.

The video explains how machine learning algorithms work, saying that they are “capable of learning different features of patterns,” based on data they are provided, and can do so by themselves. An example given is how a machine learning program can look at an image and interpret shapes, colours, and more.

Then using the assets gained from this process, the machine learning is trained to recognise these patterns. In turn, this is integrated into Ubisoft’s ZooBuilder tool, which takes videos as 2D inputs, then outputs 3D animations.

The Ubisoft ZooBuilder tool essentially tries to identify the different locations, or 2D coordinates, of the various joints on the animal, which makes up its virtual skeleton. This is then translated into 3D coordinates, which can then be used to make 3D animations.

However, the video does note that Ubisoft’s ZooBuilder is still a prototype, meaning it isn’t currently being used in any productions. But La Forge believes its tool can be used to help animators speed up the process of prototyping their animations.


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