Mapi, the augmented reality television host

Yesterday, Rtve premiered its Mapi program, which features a co-host whose face is animated with Unreal Engine in real time.

“Why is the sky blue? Why do we slip on ice? Why are there only 28 days in February? Very funny questions that any child would ask and that are difficult to answer. The goal of the guests will be twofold: to get away with the girl’s particular questions and to reach the maximum number of answers to add mapis (points) in their markers”, is how their new program explains the site. from Radio Televisión Española.

“”Mapi” is more than a simple question-and-answer show: it is an intellectual and cultural challenge that challenges the viewer from the first moment and drives him crazy. celebrities program participants,” he continues.

Since the program premiered a few weeks ago, there has been buzz on social media. The program was created yesterday and the audience data predicts a good summer, or maybe it’s just curiosity for novelty.

a hybrid character

The fact that a “doll” presents a television program for all audiences is not new. Since the puppets from Jim Henson to the puppets of Lazy Town, to the National Espinete, television history is full of actors dressed in impossible dresses and giant heads.

Thus, Mapi, who seems to be the new face of the summer for public television, is played by Carla Pulpón, an actress who already has tables on children’s television.

Carla Pulpón as Lola in the show “Panda and the cardboard boat”.

So what’s new ? What’s new is that while those attending the set see the character’s costume and foam head, viewers at home see a virtual animation of the head.

“We put on the fictitious head to be able to integrate the Mapi avatar that we created. Above the head there is a sensor that allows us to place it in space at all times and at the same time there is a facial capture system on its face that allows us to capture all the emotions and expressions for the avatar”, explains Ángel Urbina , expert in CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) technology.

This video made by “Rtve Responde” explains very well the course of the program.

A camera captures the facial expressions of the actress and the Software It is responsible for transferring them in real time to the avatar that we all see from home. Integrating real-time animation is the real novelty.

“Being inside Mapi is strong because you’re in a sort of metaverse. I go inside the costume and I know everything, ”says the actress.

However, it seems that despite the level of detail and quality that can be achieved today with augmented reality technology, the character’s exaggerated gestures and attitude have been carried over from a bygone era when the body and the voice had to compensate for the now avoidable lack of facial expression.

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