Performative Avatars_Final

For my final project, my plan is to use the two avatars I took of myself (Standing, meditating), and to use them with the Unreal Engine.

I was trying to use Mixamo to make my avatar useable in Unreal. However, I kept on running into errors and my avatars would not upload. After much experimenting and research, I found out the problem was that my avatar was slightly tilted. Using Zbrush, I straightened out my avatars.

I’m still unsure how to add texture to my avatars. I definitely need to spend more time learning Zbrush.

The concept of my final project is to control avatars based on one’s emotive state in a VR environment. The setting will be at a peaceful lake, where the viewer is meditating. The user can control multiple avatars using his brainwaves. If one’s mind is stressed, then the avatar will similarly appear stressed. If the user’s mind is happy, then the avatars will dance around. The project will involve a brainwave scanning helmet to read the user’s brainwave state.

Performative Avatars_Figure photoScan_#2

Initially, my plan was to make an avatar of Sonic the Hedgehog (One of my favorite cartoon characters). However, I wanted to challenge myself. Although people told me that it would be difficult and time-consuming, I decided to make a virtual avatar of myself.


In order to make my avatar, I tried photoScanning myself. The whole process a lot of space though. After looking for a good open space on campus, I decided to photo scan at a small park right by Tisch Building.

(For taking the photos, I opted for an outdoor environment. This way I could take advantage of the natural lighting.)

To photoScan myself, I had to stand with my arms spread out for 30 minutes, while someone circled around with a camera. It was a challenge to stay completely still and keep my arms up the whole time.

A good friend of mine agreed to help as a photographer. Luckily, he had prior experience with photo scanning and offered helpful advice.

He advised that I put my arms up horizontally the whole time, spread my legs shoulder-width apart, focus on looking at one point, and keep my fingers closed. By following this advice, I was able to stabilize my pose and minimize movement. We ended up taking 110 photos in many different angles.

The actual 3D modeling process with software was a challenge.

Below is my first result from photo scanning (failure)

My first try was not successful. 20 minutes into taking the photos, I realized that I had not kept my feet apart and had to start over.

This was tiring, as I had to hold my arms up for an additional 25 minutes.There was a lot of room for improvement following the first trial:

-My eyes were not focused on a single point

-My arms kept wavering throughout the photoshoot

-One of my arms wasn’t even scanned

2nd trial

After learning from my mistakes in the 1st trial, I went to the Tisch building for a 2nd trial (9th Floor was an ideal location). I was a bit worried that the outcome quality wouldn’t be great since the lighting was dimmer than outdoors.

This time I avoided all the mistakes from the 1st trial, and I was pleased with the outcome.

With newfound confidence, I decided to scan myself in a meditating pose as well. This was much easier to accomplish, since the meditative pose is much more comfortable to hold.

Below is the final result. It is a great improvement from the 1st trial. However, like the 1st trial, my right arm wasn’t scanned as well as I would’ve liked.

Performative Avatars_Idea

I’ve always imagined an avatar controlled by my myself. For instance an avatar controlled by voice, brain-wave, joy-stick, etc.


Also, as a Dalai Lama Fellow I want to create an avatar based on the Dalai Lama. I also plan on creating an avatar of the Dalai Lama’s complete opposite: Kim Jong Un.

To accomplish this, I required action figures of both individuals to 3D scan. I searched all over Google and Amazon to no success. I found many action figures of Kim Jong Un, but very few for the Dalai Lama.

Below is a list of Dalai Lama related avatars:



As you can see above, the selection is slim. Finally, I came across Madame Tussauds, which is known for its wax figurines of notable individuals and visited to see if the Dalai Lama could be found there. Alas, he was not in the U.S. museum, but was in their London Museum.


Otherwise, I had no trouble finding figures of Kim Jong Un. I found many on various online Chinese marketplaces. There were more Kim Jong Il figurines than for Kim Jong Un. I suspect that the movie “Team America” had much to do with this.



At the end, I settled on a 3-D puzzle set of the Dalai Lama’s face. First of all, it was very cheap and was quite pleasant to put together.

In the manual, it suggested 1 hour to construct. I ended up spending 3.5 hours to make sure all the edges matched up neatly.

Although I haven’t learned the techniques to do so, I did a very rough 3D  scan of the Dalai Lama Face puzzle.