Digital Humans Building: Vera

by paradoxig

Avatars, Digital Humans, Digital Twins, Virtual Beings. These are trends, expected to only grow in the future in all forms. Even Gartner’s hype predict especially Digital Humans to be growing trend in the next year (read more here): AI/XR Trends

Reincarnation, personalization, animating, represents that process of evolutionary essentialization of a creation from idea to form and then from form to existence in various environments (physical or virtual).
Every phenomenon has a root. and the etymological root of the avatar concept comes from History
The ROOTS: the word “avatar” in Hinduism means a being who embodies God. It is believed that one God can have many incarnations, differing in their appearance, capabilities and character. For example, the God Vishnu has 22 avatars
Reincarnation in the modern concept: In its current meaning, the word has been used in computer games. The concept of “avatar” was first used in 1985 in the 4th part of the computer game Ultima (Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar) then moved to other games like: Shadowrun (1985), Habitat (1987).
Also Avatar is the strongest NOD unit in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

Nowadays, avatars can play also the role of influencers. Probably Lil Miquela (with 3 millions Followers) is the most famous virtual influencers and the first hyperrealistic one to achieve mainstream popularity on social media. But, competition is growing, and other virtual influencers come in the games, such as: Lu do Magalu – 6 millions Followers, Guggimon – 1.5 millions Followers, Noonoouri – 404K Followers.

Virtual influencers love the cash from big brands, and in return big brands love them back as they never age, can always work, and… have less drama around them. Although Lil Miquela had a love story and then breaking up with boyfriend went viral… So, less drama, but maybe no drama, might be too boring…? (see more in Dazed)

For companies it is easy to create a digital human, but if you want to create your own digital human – how do you do it? Where to start? What personality to choose? What is important? A digital human is a 3D computer-generated version of a human being that can be animated to move and behave like a real person, but in a virtual world. But before you start, you should think about if you want it to be:
– Stylized or photorealistic?
– Real-time for interactive experiences or rendered offline for animations?
– Should its motion be controlled by actual humans or by artificial intelligence (AI)?

Multiple realities and needs dictate new forms that allow various ways of expressing our new alter egos. Although in the primordial phase of the Internet’s evolution, the avatar had the role and also synonymous with a ”symbolic pseudonym” the concept acquires new understandings, meanings and values which lead sooner to essentialization than to personification.

New concepts need new architects who have the utopian capacity of building of ”that something”

But, how you build an Avatar? Techvangart talk with Co-Founders of of Italian Studio Kabum, artists Teresa Romano and Marco Testini -who are creating the Digital Human -Vera.

Vera (which mean real in Italian) is young digital human, that probably one day might have a contribution in making the world a better place, as she will represent themes such as as body positivity (Vera is curvy, not the standard skinny beauty), inclusiveness (she is also lesbian), love for the earth and nature. Digital humans, like humans, are supposed to have personalities, memories, and creators have to decide on all these points as well depending on the need and use cases envisioned for the future.

The Birth

Digital Humans have an age, so, it is well advised to establish how old she is. For Example Vera was born on Wise was born on 09/29/1996 (digitally on 06/12/2022) at 2:22 to an Italian mother and an English father.
Vera was chosen to be a Gen Z Generation, so she can be more close to young people.
And their creators have also made her astral chart.

Tip: as you will see, digital humans have personalities, so making a natal chart might just get you inspired to develop some characteristics 🙂

Physical Appearance
Appearance/personal style sometime based on Facial expression​​ other time on body-language and other sums of easy recognizable characteristic including size, manners, tics, color, texture and defining elements

When you decide on the look, you can draw inspiration from real-life persons. In the case of Vera, her physicality is inspired by that of the Australian model Stefania Ferrario while her expressiveness and mimicry by the English model Cara Delevingne.
The colors of her complexion, eyes and hair are those of the Italian influencer Giulia Valentina.

And after, you can get your hands dirty with some programs to make it real. In the case of Vera, the creators used Maya and ZBrush.

Main characteristics
The distinctive combination of qualities in a person or place that makes them different from others

In order to be as precise as possible, you will have to think to visualize her main characteristic, a background story, and then add personality characteristics – which will help your digital human to fulfill its mission.
For example, Vera is bilingual and is fluent in Italian and English. She spent her childhood in Warwick, England, where she met her first flame Jamie.
-She identifies as a cisgender lesbian woman and the pronouns of her are she / her of her.
-She has an irrepressible physicality and is a proud supporter of body positivity.
-She is a photographer but she also dabbles as a model and is passionate about fashion, funk/rock music and technology, so she reserves a particular fascination for the world of video games.
-Among her particular signs, a red mole on her chest and a QR-CODE tattooed on her forearm stands out which allows anyone who scans it to access her virtual world and contents of her private life.

Personality and Psychological portrait
the psychological portrait try to reflect the character of the person including perception, identity, empathy, cognition, education, interaction, catharsis, etc

Being clear about the personality is crucial, personality will determine the ways in which the avatar will respond, interact with others, etc just like humans. And this is important even if it is AI controlled or Human controlled through mocap.
In Vera’s case, we find out that she is a curious person and her curiosity led her to develop different interests.
Vera loves being the center of attention and always expresses her opinion without hiding a certain pride. However, being so proud of her can be translated into a spasmodic search for perfection.

Her ties are firm both in family and in friendship and she prefers stable sentimental relationships, from which she draws her need for a quiet life and harmony. She has always been a researcher and proponent of elegance and beauty.

Memories and its effects

Just like humans, memories of Digital Humans are essential. In the case of Vera, the creators decided to use AI (Midjourney) to create some of her memories. These will be visible and salable as prints: they will be unique pieces and, as such, the recollection of the same memory will involve a distortion, just as occurs with human memories.

In Vera’s memories there is a trauma linked to her first experience at the circus, where she was photographed next to a Clown who carried a Parrot with clipped wings on his arm. This episode gave her a blind fear of clowns and she has never been in a circus since.

And related to her future, her story is procedural and will be influenced by the course of events: her hair will grow and her vision of the world will adapt to the historical-cultural context in which she lives.

Other Tips

1. Transmedia Approach
Providing versatile content, as a digital human can adapt to different environments. Depending on the needs, Vera has also a 2D version, and moreover considering that the metaverses are not interoperable (yet), her aesthetics can adapt to different metaverse. As such, in addition to the hyper-realistic version, Vera also has a more stylized, pixelated, and cartoonish-like version.

2. Put yourself in the work
As with any work of art, the creators put a little bit of themselves in modeling Vera – something from their personality, their story, and Vera has somehow inherited some DNA.

Obviously there are other elements that you might have to take into account – animation, AI-linkage if necessary, how digital humans evolve, and if it is AI-driven vs mocap But, maybe, in another series of TechvangArt Atelier.

Teresa Romano
Art director & Compositor

Marco Testini
Art & Technical director

Federico Spissu
3D Modeler

Francesco Dessì
Look dev Artist

About Kabum
“We turn imagination into experience” is the slogan of Kabum Film Experience, a company born in 2018 from the intuition of the designers and artists Marco Testini and Teresa Romano. Kabum creates innovative content taking advantage of the latest trends with integrations of 3D and 2D visual effects. Kabum offers services of animation, VFX and content production for short movies, ADVs and videogames. It has recently launched a B2B only service of outsourcing to realize 3D custom assets optimized for AR, VR and NFT.

Kabum believes in Internet’s potential as a medium for stories, ideas and culture and embraces curiosity, innovation and the highest standards. Kabum relies on a group of industry specialists as narrators, technicians and artists. Most of them come from Kabum’s Discord server, which boasts a 600 artists’s community. Kabum overcomes technology, creativity and innovation’s boundaries to offer not only memorable content but also unforgettable experiences.

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