Animating Expressive Characters
for Social Interactions

Symposium of the AISB'02 Convention

Imperial College, London, UK, 4th - 5th April, 2002

Room: Studio A Huxley

This page last modified: 28th March, 2002


Symposium Description
Rationale and Background
Symposium Organisers
Programme Committee
Tentative PROGRAMME (PDF file) (NEW!!)
REGISTRATION details are available. (NEW!!)
Travel and accommodation information are available on the AISB'02 Convention web page
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Symposium Description

The ability to express and recognise emotions is a fundamental aspect of social interaction. The importance of endowing artefacts (for example synthetic characters or robots) with these capabilities is nowadays widely acknowledged in different research areas such as affective computing, socially intelligent agents, computer animation, or virtual environments. Researchers in all these areas are however confronted with the problem of how to make the emotional displays of artefacts and characters believable and acceptable to humans. This can involve not only generating appropriate expressions and behavioural displays - explored in animated film for many years - but also endowing artefacts with underlying models of personality and emotions that support the coherence and autonomy of their emotional displays and interactions.

Thus this symposium concerns 'animation' not only from a graphical perspective, but more generally in the human sense: making characters 'life-like', externally but also 'internally': giving them an 'anima'. The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers from different disciplines (including psychology, animal behaviour, the arts, computer graphics and animation as well as those mentioned above) to reflect on this common problem from different perspectives and to gain new insights from this multi-disciplinary feedback.

Rationale and Background

This symposium covers a domain of active research in a number of different communities. Expressing and recognising emotions is studied in the social agent community because it is known to be fundamental to establishing a social relationship; it is studied in computer animation because it is also a basic requirement for the believability of animated characters and for human engagement in the narratives in which they are involved. It has also been studied for many hundreds of years in expressive arts and for most of the 20thC, and into the 21stC, in the psychology of emotion.

With the growth of synthetic characters in virtual environments and on the web, as well as of the introduction of domestic or entertainment robots, this topic is receiving an increased importance. Who could accept or trust an Annanova who read the news about September 11th with the same emotion as a report on the England football team qualifying for the World Cup? If users are to accept and interact with artefacts such as intelligent synthetic characters and domestic robots, then appropriate emotional interaction is vital.

However the different communities that study emotional expression and recognition do so in very different ways, and often do not interact with each other. Within computing there is a gulf between graphics and animation researchers who are concerned about exterior expressiveness, and workers in AI and cognitive science who build computer models of the internals of such artefacts. Meanwhile communities entirely outside of computing have ideas known little or not at all within it but of major potential use, as witness the recent use of Laban analysis from dance choreography in behavioural animation.

We therefore hope that this symposium will provide a rare opportunity for people from these varied communities to meet and interact and would argue that the very diversity of concepts and approaches should produce many new ideas and new feedback paths between the different disciplines.

To this end, a number of keynote speakers from different disciplines will appear at the workshop, including (so far): Bruce Blumberg (MIT Media Lab, USA), Mike Milne (Framestore, UK), Thomas Wehrle and Susanne Kaiser (GIL and Geneva Emotion Research Group, University of Geneva, CH) .

Symposium Organisers

Ruth Aylett
Centre for Virtual Environments
University of Salford, UK
Fax: +44-(0)161-295-2925
Phone: +44-(0)161-295-2916

Lola Cañamero
Adaptive Systems Research Group
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Hertfordshire, UK
Phone +44-(0)1707-284308
Fax: +44-(0)1707-284303

Programme Committee

Elisabeth André, University of Augsburg, Germany
Yasmine Arafa, Imperial College, UK
Ruth Aylett, University of Salford, UK
Daniel Ballin, BTExact Technologies, Radical Multimedia Lab, UK
Cynthia Breazeal, MIT, USA
Paul Brna, University of Leeds, UK
Lola Cañamero, University of Hertfordshire, UK
Kerstin Dautenhahn, University of Hertfordshire, UK
Fiorella De Rosis, University of Bari, Italy
Adrian Hilton, University of Surrey, UK
Ana Paiva, INESC, Portugal
Catherine Pelachaud, Universita di Roma La Sapienza, Italy
Paolo Petta, OEFAI, Austria
John Vince, Bournemouth University, UK
Thomas Wehrle, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Adrian Woolard, BBC Imagineering, UK

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