Lifeforms Design Tools for Choreography and Computer Animation


Session Title:

  • Choreography

Presentation Title:

  • Lifeforms Design Tools for Choreography and Computer Animation



  • Lifeforms is a three dimensional computer compositional tool for choreography, and for the creation of character motion. It provides an interactive. graphical interface that enables a choreographer or animator to stretch out movement ideas in time and space. Merce Cunningham, the renowned choreographer who presaged the post-modern dance movement with his choreographic innovation, has been using Lifeforms in new York City for the past three years, to support his creation and exploration of new dance work. Originally envisioned as a creative tool for choreographers, Lifeforms has also received a great deal of interest from animators, directors, athletic coaches and motion planners. It began as a research project of the Simon Fraser University Computer Graphics Research Lab under Dr Thomas W. Clavert, where it has been under development for about six years. Development for character animation and rendering has continued through Kinetic Effects Inc. Lifeforms enables you to create, edit and store human and character movement sequences. An important underlying research interest that has kindled the development of Lifeforms has been the study of the design or compositional process with a view to applying what we understand of this process to the ongoing design of the Lifeforms interface. In Lifeforms, movement sequences can be key-framed by directly manipulating a body interactively using inverse kinematics.

    In a recent development, user-defined skeletons other than the human body can be used inside Lifeforms with the same ease and flexibility that initially allowed choreographers to create dance. The large libraries of predefined movement sequences provide a source of material that can be performed by multiple human figures (or multiple user-defined figures). Movement paths can be viewed, and the animation of the movement sequence is interpolated by the computer to be viewed for playback in real time. Audio files can be selected, cued to in and out points, and played synchronously with the movement. A MIDI interface enables sequences to be displayed under MIDI.control for projection or interactive live performance. This paper sets out to present the public with the Cyberdata philosophies and the technical specifica-tions. A number of concepts will be explored, including the current thoughts and actions of the Cyberdata culture. A major theme of Cyberdata has been creating simulations of simulated reality (ie. cyberspace) using multimedia installation. We will present people with the workings of a future virtual reality, and the kind of society this system will support. All information (physical, psychological, visual, computer data) is transmitted and received in patterns. Cyberdata propose new processes for human communication and thought, experimenting with video-graphics and installation work to set up experience for the physical human interface.

    Offering information for the computer that doesn’t imply or state money/power/consumer materialism, but using technology as a means of creating experiences leading to a higher state of consciousness/new system of communication. Technical aspects of the processes at work within the Cyberdata system including image generation, cultural referencing, improvisational computer art techniques, new methods of animation, playing with the technology, creating your own way of using the system, intended telepresence systems, and intended metaphysical integration.