Excuse me while I KILL this zombie

October 4, 2006

News At Seven screenshot(Updates to correct video game character reference. Thanks readers!) Researchers at Northwestern University’s InfoLab have come up with an answer to dull newscasts — no anchors, no production staff.Just the facts, and the software.News at Seven is a news gathering system that collects, edits and organizes text, images and videos it finds on the Web. The software then builds a newscast with a computer-generated reporter delivering the news.The demo probably won’t appeal to anyone who still thinks “Walter Cronkite” when they picture the evening news. The virtual anchor, modelled after video game heroine Alyx Vance of “Half Life 2” excuses herself to gun down a zombie between segments.We don’t remember Tom Brokaw ever doing that.Kristian Hammond, Co-Director of Northwestern’s Intelligent Information LaboratoryDepartment explains in an e-mail correspondence:

It works.  End to end, it will build a newscast.  It starts with existing news feeds and then finds/filters/adds images and movies. It then processes the text into spoken English (expanding abbreviations, turing passive to active, etc.).   Finally it finds a high-affect, relevant blog about the story.Once the news is built, it runs the speech through a TTS engine and modifies the output WAV files to include HL2’s lipsyncing information. Finally, the system reads in templated .VCDs (HL2’s scripting files, created in FacePoser), modifies them to include the right sound files, image timings, etc., and saves them back out. It also tweaks and recompiles the map if it needs to (you can specify which anchor is speaking, etc.)


That’s not Lara!!! That’s Alex from Half-Life 2.

Her fame from HL2 lead her down a career path in Television. Prior to becoming a news anchor she was a model.

http://www.attitude.com/users/lee/pix/gm _construct0006.jpg


‘Fraggalicous’ has got it right. The model used is one of the original main characters from Half-Life 2 with absolutely no connection to ‘Tomb Raider’ whatsoever. I don’t see how Mr. Li could have surmised that little piece of information.

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