Origins of The First Person Simulator
About 12 years ago, a thought came into my mind regarding simulation of the human first person perspective. Initially, this was from the controlled environment of video games, which heavily uses the basic idea of “the camera represents the head with a built in “eye” and if we put a camera in the position of the head and then move the head, the eye will move directly with the head movement” and so in turn simulates the human first person perspective. I am now in continual conflict with this basic concept, as I believe both head and eye movement should be simulated as the transition movement, which occurs when the head tracks the direction of sight, produces subtle but important extra visual information, leading to greater sense of depth and immersion. After all this time I still am not hearing this being discussed and wonder if it is actually an important consideration, thinking "Is it just me?". If properly demonstrated it could be significant in providing more depth and immersion to single camera/single screen imagery.
I would ask you to try the following test, which focuses on the use of single eye/single camera.
Close one eye.
Look forward with your head straight.
Now without moving the head, look at a object of interest, paying attention to the whole view including surrounding objects etc.
Now naturally allow your head to re-align with the direction you are looking but try to concentrate on everything that changes.
The main point being that your eye changes position in 3D space and continually has to re-adjust to stay aligned. This re-adjusting as your eye moves position in 3D spaces, produces extra significant parallax information that is not present in the case of a fixed position "eye" being moved by the head.
Another way is to look keep your sight fixed on an object of interest and move your head but keep your eye looking at the object. Again the surrounding area changes significantly whilst you are moving the head and still re-adjusting your eye to fix on the object, this again being down to the eye position moving in 3D space.
I had the honour of discussing the potential of capturing this effect on camera in the real world with the Oscar-winning inventor of the Steadicam, Garrett Brown, who was very interested in the idea in the virtual world, especially for looking around objects which are close to the camera, for example in cockpits of planes and cars as seen in the video below.
The First Person Simulator
Growing up from the basic graphics days of the Acorn Electron, on to the Amiga through to the PC and the beginning of 3D polygonal graphics, with Quake and Tomb Raider and the technically inspirational Trespasser by Dreamworks Interactive, the changes have been rapid and fascinating to witness.
Trespasser attempted to bring the player into a more tactile environment by allow the player to move a 3D around in a very convincing physically simulated world, with collisions and gravity etc.
Combine the idea of the arm interaction, with a fully dynamic real-time generated walking/movement, both with no pre-defined animations and the Realiview visual simulation concept, is what I define as The First Person Simulator.
The goal is to be able to use The FPS in 1st and 3rd person interactive experiences.
Eye AND head movement simulation with fully real-time generated animations visible in 1st and 3rd person (no pre-defined animations) combined with object tracking and dynamic camera effects such as depth of field to generate the extra parallax information seen in real life but not in virtual worlds.
Fully real-time generated walking and body movement, where the body moves to each foot which also both move independently but with respect to the view.
Both of the above point are controlled a common, standard fashion to the existing input methods as to make the differences in control as little as possible but with a greater feeling on immersion in a more tactile environment.
Actually feeling like you are looking with your eyes with the head responding and the head being given the freedom to be allowed to move rather than just gliding as the object tracking simulates the human eye stabilising the view as the body and head move.
Below are a number of videos which demonstrate the features of The FPS.