PSU Interviews NaturalMotion

  • Posted September 20th, 2006 by

Coming in hot via email, PSU had the chance to interview Torsten Reil, CEO and co-founder of NaturalMotion. If you are not familiar with NaturalMotion or Tortsten then here is some basic information you need to know before we proceed.



In 2001, Tortsten and Colm Massey founded NaturalMotion, "the first company to create 3D character animation software based on Dynamic Motion Synthesis (DMS), a technology that utilizes Adaptive Behaviors and artificial intelligence to simulate the human-nervous system." Two years later, Tortsten was named as one of the world's top 100 innovators by MIT's Technology Review.

Since the company's start, NaturalMotion has been building technology for film and gaming. Some names you may have heard of include The Mill, Capcom, Namco, Konami, and LucasArts.

We had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Reil regarding NaturalMotion, their products, and the next-generation gaming in general. Enjoy!

1. NaturalMotion is located in Oxford England, correct? How was the company created and how long have you guys been around?

Yes, NaturalMotion is headquartered in Oxford and has a US office in San Francisco. The company was founded in November 2001 to commercialize our research on Dynamic Motion Synthesis (DMS), a proprietary technology that simulates humans.

2. About how many people make up your company?


We have a team of 40 people with backgrounds ranging from artificial intelligence, biology, robotics, math and physics to next-gen console optimization.

3. About how many years has endorphin and euphoria been in the works?


Both endorphin and euphoria are based on our Dynamic Motion Synthesis (or DMS) technology which uses the processing power of the CPU to create character movements in real-time. This is achieved by fully simulating the 3D character, specifically its motor control system and physical body. DMS started as research on the body movement of animals and humans, at Oxford University several years ago. We realized that this technology could create a much more interactive type of animation, and decided to commercialize it as endorphin, our first standalone application. endorphin 1.0 was formally launched at SIGGRAPH 2003. We started developing euphoria around that time frame too.

4. Are there any other past, present, or future products we should know about from NaturalMotion?


Not at this time.

5. Your website says you supply your engine to film, games, and other parts of media. What movies/films have your products been used in?


endorphin has been used in feature films such as Poseidon and Troy; and it is also being used in several feature films that are currently in production (which we are not at liberty to disclose at this time). euphoria is currently being integrated into multiple AAA next-generation titles, including LucasArts¡¦ Star Wars 2007 and Indiana Jones 2007 (working titles).

6. You are currently working with Lucas Arts and a yet to be announced company to bring euphoria to next gen gaming, correct? How is that working for you and how are you implementing the engine into their games?


That is correct. The relationship with our partners is great. LucasArts are a great company to work with, as they¡¦re really looking to give people a true next-gen experience. We integrated the core engine some time ago, and are now spending most of our time writing adaptive behaviors (the artificial nervous system that replaces canned animations).

7. I recently interviewed Pixelux Entertainment, the developers behind Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) technology and they are also working with Lucas Arts. Are you guys working with them to utilize their technology to work with yours?


Yes, our technologies are fully complementary and interface with each other. For example, LucasArts showed Stormtroopers clinging onto wooden beams (using euphoria), which would then break realistically using Pixelux.

8. In summary what does endorphin do? euphoria?


euphoriaand endorphin both use NaturalMotion¡¦s DMS technology (see question #8 for more background on DMS). endorphin uses DMS to create baked animation for later playback in films or games. euphoriaon the other hand uses the CPU power of ... (continued on next page)

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