The SLENZ Update – No 4 September 1, 2008

Compiled/written by John Waugh/Johnnie Wendt

How REAL can you get?

Watch Emily describe her creation  and display her attitude

We all want avatars that look real – although perhaps some of us don’t want them too look too real. Emily is an avatar who seems  to make virtual worlds almost as real as real can get. Created by Image Metrics ( a California outfit which specialises in realistic facial animations, such those in the intro to the latest edition of Grand Theft Auto, Emily is one of the most realistic computer-generated characters ever to hit games or virtual worlds

Emily began life as a video of a girl talking which was then used to recreate the gestures, movement by movement, on a model, to overcome the difficulties of animating a human face. The difficulties include the fact that the skin often appears too shiny, or the movements too symmetrical.

“Ninety per cent of the work is convincing people that the eyes are real,” according to Mike Starkenburg, chief operating officer of Image Metrics.“The subtlety of the timing of eye movements is a big one. People also have a natural asymmetry – for instance, in the muscles in the side of their face. Those types of imperfections aren’t that significant but they are what makes people look real.”


Skoolaborate, claimed to be a global initiative, uses a blend of technologies including, blogs, online learning, wiki’s and  ‘virtual worlds’ in a bid  to provide engaging collaborative learning experiences for all.

Created by Westley Field at MLC School, Skoolaborate now has 14 schools from Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and the USA on its membership list.

Its avowed aim is to learn how to use blended collaborative learning experiences to make learning more meaningful and engaging,

The projects we create, according to Westley Field,  will integrate curriculum and digital technologies into collaborative global actions.

“Our virtual learning space is secure and only accessible via invitation,” he said.  “Students from schools around the world are invited to participate. Initiated and manage

“We will use our initial experiences to gain the skills that allow us to work towards achieving our goal of improving educational outcomes for all students – particularly those who are disadvantaged.

The partner schools so far include: 1. MLC School Sydney Australia [ visit ];2. Christ’s College ChristChurch New Zealand [ visit ];3. Kyoto Gakuen Junior and Senior High School Japan [ visit ];4. Learning Services (South) Tasmania [ visit ] 5. Parramatta Marist High School – Sydney, Australia [ visit ] 6. St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Sydney, Australia [ visit ]7. Victoria University – The Avatar Project  [ visit ]7. Debney Park Public Secondary College Melbourne, Australia [ visit ]8. Milford High School, Milford, NH USA [ visit ]; 9. Nauset Public Schools, MA USA [ visit ]; 10. Monroe High School – Rochester District New York USA; 11. Think Academy – Chile South America.

Find out more about how to join Skoolaborate


One Response

  1. More than a claim now. We have 32 schools including 7 countries with another 10 awaiting approval – exciting stuff. But what is best about it all is how it works for kids. In particular those kids who don’t do so well in traditional schooling – check the latest blog entry.

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