January 30, 2007

Background movies

Hi all,

Some of you have noticed that the videos behind Alyx have been looping differently lately. We are currently in the midst of changing the ways that the video is processed before the show is run, and there are still some kinks to be worked out. Once everything is up and running, the videos should be much smoother and cause less “hiccuping” in our anchor’s voice as videos are loaded behind her. Until that point though, there are definitely a few bugs remaining. We considered getting the new video system completely up and running on our test system before showing it to you all, but we thought you might be interested to see the work in progress. News at Seven is always improving, and one of the benefits of being a smaller research project is that we are quickly able to share those improvements with you, our loyal viewers. We hope you’re also excited about getting to watch a fledgling project improve, and we hope you won’t mind its growing pains too much.

Thanks a lot for your continued interest (over 55,000 views on YouTube and counting!), and keep watching!


The News at Seven team

January 17, 2007

In search of life-like anchors

Hi everyone,

You may have noticed in the last few days that Alyx now performs animations and gestures while presenting the news.  Getting Alyx to look more lively and life-like has been a major goal of ours for awhile, and it’s nice to finally get a first pass of it in the system.

Like everything else in News at Seven, her animations are added completely automatically.  Currently, the gestures are chosen and applied by a set of hand-coded rules, and while we think they look decent currently, there is obviously a lot more work to be done in the gesture area.

We are also researching ways to automatically apply facial expressions to our anchors, and improve the human-like qualities of their voices.  We believe that the more life-like the anchors are, the more interesting they will be over extended periods of time.

On a housekeeping note, you may notice that this is the first time the blog has been updated.  While we’ve been working hard on the system over the past few months, we haven’t taken the time previously to write up for the community what we’re thinking and doing.  It’s time to rectify that, and so you can expect weekly updates to the blog.

Also, we encourage you to leave comments!  Currently, we’re leaving comment moderation on to reduce the number of spam comments.  This means that your comments won’t show up until we go through and approve it specifically.  We will do this regularly, though, so don’t worry.

If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations for improving News at Seven, please don’t hesitate to email us the contact link, or leave a comment here in the blog.

Thanks, and keep watching!

The News at Seven team