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Televirtual, the UK company which launched the world's first computerised TV
presenter, has broken new ground with a system which produces
multi-character TV animated drama, live and as it happens.

Described by Televirtual founder Tim Child, as a real-time animation
pipeline, or 'RAP' system, the computer-hosted package allows a variety of
complex 3d characters, to move, speak and interact, in a selection of
virtual sets. The RAP system, which also allows real-time lighting effects,
sound and lipsynch speech generation, was demonstrated to BBC programme
chiefs at Television Centre recently, and Televirtual plan to demonstrate
the system to production companies and Animation Rights holders in London
during February.

'RAP blends traditional animation techniques with the latest research-based
Virtual Humans technologies', claims Child. 'We don't believe it will change
the way animation is produced over night, but it does open some very
interesting doors, into areas such as interactive animated soap operas, and
the prospect of live childrens' TV programmes being presented by a complete
cast of anthropomorphic or fantasy/cartoon creatures, has got to be

But perhaps the best thing about RAP is that is has been designed from the
outset as a production system that can be used hands-on by TV producers,
without the aid of computer programmers, or the complications of complex
Virtual Reality equipment such as body suits or motion capture cameras. A
prototype RAP system was used by Televirtual in 2000 to create the set and
programme presentation for Channel 4's satirical music show, Karaoke

Jpeg images on request from Steve@

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