Hull’s historical heroes are brought back to life

Computer science students have been bringing a bit of Hollywood to Hull

Students at The University of Hull and The Glasgow School of Art have joined together to celebrate two of Hull’s most celebrated heroes using technology usually reserved for hollywood blockbusters. Digital life-sized 3D versions of William Wilberforce – the Hull-born MP who pioneered the abolition of slavery movement in the 19th century – and Amy Johnson – the first woman to fly a plane solo from England to Australia – will be projected at various points across Hull. 

The characters are recreated based on the recorded movements of live actors using full body motion tracking and facial capture techniques, similar to those used to create Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the Hulk character in the Marvel Avengers films. 

The characters are being created utilising the expertise at Hull’s Immersive Virtual Environment (HIVE), part of the University of Hull’s Computer Science department, and experts in 3D simulation and visualisation in the Digital Design Studio at The Glasgow School of Art. Once they have captured the raw footage, the team apply 3D modelling visual effects and animation techniques to create the digital characters. 

Dr Jon Purdy, HIVE Centre Manager at the University of Hull, said: “It’s an honour to get the opportunity to recreate two pioneering historical figures using movie-standard special effects. The technology we’ve adopted means the Amy and William characters will be recreated in a very realistic way and in high definition. The characters will recount stories from their life – retelling significant points in history in an unusual and interactive way.” 

The William Wilberforce character will be available to view at various points within Hull’s city centre in 2017. The project is being led by the University’s world-leading Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation. Professor John Oldfield, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, said

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