Bringing AI Avatars to Life: Behind the Screen with Our Art Team

Let’s talk about our art team. Their tools might seem simple, but the AI avatars they create are anything but.

Vincent van Gogh once said, “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” And our team embodies this spirit, each member dedicated to their craft, pouring their heart and soul into every pixel. You’ve seen their creations in the form of videos from time to time. But today, we decided to bring the people behind the screen who put their everything into making these historical avatars come alive.
Without further ado, let’s introduce our character artist team. We have Bharathi, our animation manager – and his two talented artists, Bishal and Sushruthi.

Could you walk us through a typical day in your work routine?

Sush: I’d say our day starts pretty early. We have a catch-up call where we plan out things for the day.

Bishal: Yes, in this call, we discuss our deliverables, sprint planning, and quarterly goals. Post which we get assigned a 3D avatar that we need to work on for the day. We usually start with the sculpting process and eventually animate them.

Bharathi: For specifics, the process we follow is reference, sculpture, texture, groom/costume, render, and speech/animation. Each step is crucial; for instance, doing research by collecting good quality references is like preparing necessary items before you start cooking. We then sculpt the likeness of the avatar based on the reference, sometimes relating this process to sketching/sculpting someone live. We texture them, deciding what kind of skin pore will suit them and what clothing and hairstyle would work for them. Finally, we bring them to life with speech and animation, checking how the avatar is speaking and tweaking them to achieve realism.

It sounds like your work demands a high level of precision. What motivates and inspires you to maintain this level of excellence?

Bharathi: As for me, I have always believed in this quote – ‘Your next work should be better than the previous work you made.’ This keeps me pushing to achieve better quality.

Bishal: For me, I think the endless possibility of creating art and imagination, the pursuit of making something creative, is what motivates and inspires me in my line of work.

Sush: Pretty simple for me, actually. The drive to get better every day motivates and inspires me to come up with new ideas for my work.

What are some of the main challenges you encounter in your work, and how do you typically overcome them?

Bishal: Sometimes, I feel stuck at a certain process or stage. It could be me who made a mistake; it could be a software issue. But anyway, to overcome it, I usually find an alternative to that process. If not, I try fixing it step by step.

Sush: I find achieving realism with limited resources a key challenge. I usually face it by coming up with unexplored ways to approach the process, and more often than not, it works!

Bharathi: The best thing is whenever any member of our team faces a challenge, we work on it collectively as a team. We look closely to support them. Some of the challenges include setting a benchmark and then having to make our next work even better.

Among the historical AI avatars you’ve worked on, do you have a favorite project or avatar?

Sush: My favorite project would be St. Valentine. I got to work on a male character after a very long time, and I learned a lot while working on it.

Bharathi: My favorite AI avatars are Abraham Lincoln and Marco Polo. Historical characters we heard about growing up are especially fun to recreate.

I thought creating a 3D avatar of the Father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was my favorite. I enjoyed doing it and ended up getting a Certificate of Excellence from our company for my work. Aristotle is another avatar I would say I performed well on and was very precisely made. I recently did Ben Banneker, which was also fun to make, where I pushed my limits due to a tight schedule, but it was worth it.

Collaboration with other teams, such as engineering or content, must be crucial. Can you elaborate on how you collaborate with them?

Sush: Yes, we often collaborate with engineers to perfect our voices and resolve server issues. The content team helps us with the script for social media posts and to publish our works!

It helps that every team member is very helpful, well-mannered, and a good communicator, so it is never difficult for us to work with them. Every once in a while, we have joint projects or operations where we coordinate to bring AI avatars to life.

What are your future goals and aspirations, both personally and for the animation team?

Bishal: I would very much like to see our work, our projects, and our 3D AI avatars become more realistic and immersive as we grow and follow our journey as a team. My goals would be to get better, learn more skills, and encourage other aspirants to choose this field.

Sush: My main goal would be to improve and perfect the animation of our AI avatars. Be it by adding nods and idle animations or pushing the limits of sgx, would love to explore and expand those areas.

Bharathi: I think I speak for all of us when I say that our future goal is to be the best at what we do on a global scale. It’s heartwarming to know that our immersive AI avatars are making a positive impact on kids across the world. This really motivates us to push even harder.

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