Virtual Humans & Photorealism


Photorealism is a term that refers to the ability of a computer-generated image or animation to closely resemble a photograph or real-life scene. In the context of virtual humans, photorealism refers to the ability of a digital character to look and behave as realistically as a real human.

There are many factors that contribute to the photorealism of a virtual human, including the quality of the 3D model, the accuracy of the facial expressions and body movements, the realism of the skin, hair, and clothing, and the overall level of detail and fidelity in the character’s appearance and behavior.

To achieve photorealism in a virtual human, developers may use a variety of techniques, including high-quality 3D modeling, motion capture, facial animation, and skin and hair rendering. They may also use machine learning algorithms to help generate realistic facial expressions and movements.

Overall, the goal of photorealism in virtual humans is to create digital characters that are indistinguishable from real humans, both in terms of appearance and behavior. This can be used for a variety of applications, including entertainment, training, and education.

  • Photorealistic virtual humans are digital characters that are designed to closely resemble real humans in terms of appearance and behavior. These characters are created using a variety of techniques, including 3D modeling, motion capture, facial animation, and skin and hair rendering. The goal of creating photorealistic virtual humans is to create digital characters that are indistinguishable from real humans, both in terms of appearance and behavior.


  • Body Weight Perception of Females using Photorealistic Avatars in Virtual and Augmented Reality (2020)
  • Is Photorealism Important for Perception of Expressive Virtual Humans in Virtual Reality? (2019)
  • The Perceived Human Likeness and Familiarity of Human Actors in Relationship to Digital Actors in Film (2019)
  • A Generative Approach for Dynamically Varying Photorealistic Facial Expressions in Human-Agent Interactions (2018)
  • Generating Photorealistic Facial Expressions in Dyadic Interactions (2018)
  • Digitizing Photorealistic Humans Inside USC’s Light Stage (2016)
  • Virtual humans and Photorealism: The effect of photorealism of interactive virtual humans in clinical virtual environment on affective responses (2015)
  • Creating partly autonomous expressive virtual actors for computer animation (2014)
  • The Digital Emily Project: Achieving a Photorealistic Digital Actor (2010)

See also:

Virtual Human Meta Guide

Final Reference System Architecture
MG FIN, R Bowden, JF FIN, C Galkandage, GM FIN… –
… The overarching objective of CONTENT4ALL is therefore to retain the Quality of Experience (QoE) of a human sign-interpreter into a photorealistic virtual human and to enable …

Render me real? Investigating the effect of render style on the perception of animated virtual humans
R McDonnell, M Breidt, HH Bülthoff – ACM Transactions on Graphics …, 2012 –
… The Uncanny Valley (UV) has become a standard term for the hy- pothesis that near-photorealistic virtual humans often appear unin- tentionally eerie or creepy …

Investigating the influence of virtual human entourage elements on distance judgments in virtual architectural interiors
S Aseeri, K Paraiso, V Interrante – Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 2019 –
… In this paper, we describe two experiments that explore the potential of using photorealistic virtual human entourage elements to improve distance perception accuracy in HMD-based …

Expressive Virtual Human: Impact of expressive wrinkles and pupillary size on emotion recognition
AS Milcent, E Geslin, A Kadri, S Richir – Proceedings of the 19th acm …, 2019 –
… 2 RELATED WORK 2.1 Recognition of emotions In order to evaluate and compare the recognition of emotions be- tween a photorealistic virtual human and a real human, multiple …

The effect of multimodal emotional expression and agent appearance on trust in human-agent interaction
I Torre, E Carrigan, R McDonnell, K Domijan… – Motion, Interaction and …, 2019 –
… 2018a] looked at the mismatch of emo- tional expressivity of a photorealistic virtual human, and found that people did not overall trust or like this character very much …

Learning accurate head pose for consumer technology from 3D synthetic data
S Basak, F Khan, R McDonnell… – 2021 IEEE International …, 2021 –
… In this paper, we propose a methodology utilizing commercially available animation software and open-source CG tools to create photorealistic virtual human models and generate …

R McDonnell, B Mutlu – The Handbook on Socially Interactive Agents: 20 …, 2021 –
… boundaries with realistic crowd simulation, while in the same year Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001, Hironobu Sakaguchi) attempted to create the first photorealistic virtual humans …

A platform for building mobile virtual humans
AW Feng, A Leuski, S Marsella, D Casas… – … on Intelligent Virtual …, 2015 – Springer
… and (2) it is capable of rendering high-fidelity (photorealistic) virtual humans, (3) our … and Bottom Right) A realtime render showing a photorealistic virtual human backchannelling in …

Impact of avatar facial anthropomorphism on body ownership, attractiveness and social presence in collaborative tasks in immersive virtual environments
C Dubosc, G Gorisse, O Christmann, S Fleury… – Computers & …, 2021 – Elsevier
JavaScript is disabled on your browser. Please enable JavaScript to use all the features on this page. Skip to main content Skip to article …

Ascending from the valley: Can state-of-the-art photorealism avoid the uncanny?
D Higgins, D Egan, R Fribourg, BR Cowan… – 2018 –
… The experiment outlined here was constructed to define and measure responses from human participants towards state-of-the-art photorealistic virtual humans under affected conditions …

A novel three-dimensional interactive virtual face to facilitate facial anatomy teaching using Microsoft HoloLens
N Kumar, S Pandey, E Rahman – Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2021 – Springer
… The light stage is an advanced system used for creating photorealistic virtual humans and lighting them convincingly for use in different environments …

Pilot 1 demostrator architecture, integration plan and evaluation methodologies
P Panuccio, SB HFC, WP HHI, R Bowden… –
… This data is needed in order to create a model for the translator and for the new 3D photorealistic virtual human that will be rendered during the Phase 2 of the project …

The Embodiment of Photorealistic Avatars Influences Female Body Weight Perception in Virtual Reality
E Wolf, N Merdan, N Dölinger, D Mal… – 2021 IEEE Virtual …, 2021 –
Page 1. The Embodiment of Photorealistic Avatars Influences Female Body Weight Perception in Virtual Reality Erik Wolf* HCI Group University of Würzburg …

Can virtual human entourage elements facilitate accurate distance judgments in VR?
K Paraiso, V Interrante – International Conference on Virtual Reality and …, 2017 – Springer
… In our present reported work, we further add a novel contribution to the results of prior work through our decision to use a photorealistic virtual human model representing a faithful scale …

Question-answering virtual humans based on pre-recorded testimonies for holocaust education
M Ma, S Coward, C Walker – Serious games and edutainment applications, 2017 – Springer
… generated from 3D scanning of real human, most of the above challenges can be avoided, if the transition between video recordings and photorealistic virtual human is seamless …

Pilot 2 Demostrator Architecture, Integration Plan and Evaluation Methodologies
MG FIN, R Bowden, JF FIN, C Galkandage, GM FIN… –
… the User Terminals 2. The Processing & Rendering Unit receives the main broadcaster video stream and reproduces the sign language through a 3D Photorealistic virtual human …

ViTraS-virtual reality therapy by stimulation of modulated body image-project outline
N Döllinger, C Wienrich, E Wolf, M Botsch… – Mensch und Computer …, 2019 –
… and personalized virtual representations promoting various factors that are for embodiment [35], we use a novel pipeline for fast generation of photorealistic virtual humans [2]. The …

The influence of facial expressions of a virtual coach in a virtual reality skiing application
E Oppewal – 2017 –
… expectations.??Quite??similar??to??this??is??the Uncanny??Valley??theory??[4].?? This??theory??states??that??near-photorealistic??virtual??humans??often appear …

GPU-Based Fast Refinements for High-Quality Color Volume Rendering
B Lee, K Kwon, BS Shin – Advances in Parallel and Distributed Computing …, 2016 – Springer
… IEEE Trans Med Imaging 24(3):352–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar. 4. Liu Y, Chen JX, Yang L (2008) Real-time photorealistic virtual human anatomy …

Influence of Virtual Human Appearance Fidelity within Building Science Storytelling Educational Applications
R Eiris, J Wen, M Gheisari – Journal of Architectural Engineering, 2021 –
… Moreover, a comparison of cartoonish and photorealistic virtual human models has pointed to significant increases in arousal for the photorealistic condition (Chaturvedi et al. 2015) …

Interact: a mixed reality virtual survivor for holocaust testimonies
M Ma, S Coward, C Walker – Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the …, 2015 –
… within museum settings, Interact provides substantial opportunities for the wider arts sector to create conversations between a pre-recorded photorealistic virtual human and audience …

Initial Reference System Architecture
P Panuccio, WP HHI, R Bowden, T Mallikarachchi… –
… The overarching objective of CONTENT4ALL is therefore to retain the Quality of Experience (QoE) of a human sign-interpreter into a photorealistic virtual human and to enable …

Interactive high-quality visualization of color volume datasets using GPU-based refinements of segmentation data
B Lee, K Kwon, BS Shin – Journal of X-Ray Science and …, 2016 –
… 60. [5]. Liu Y. , Chen JX and Yang L. Real-time photorealistic virtual human anatomy, Computing in Science and Engineering 102 (2008), 41–47. [6]. Pal …

Effects of Virtual Humans’ Facial Emotional Displays on Persuasion
Y Wang – 2015 –
Page 1. Effects of Virtual Humans’ Facial Emotional Displays on Persuasion by Yuqiong Wang A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of …

Virtual and Augmented Reality
V Trivedi – How to Speak Tech, 2019 – Springer
… In the uncanny valley, our brains can’t decide whether an image is a real human or not, making us uneasy. As a result, near-photorealistic virtual humans are generally avoided …

Design fiction exploration of romantic interaction with virtual humans in virtual reality
T Eriksson – Journal of Future Robot Life, 2022 –
… well. Development of the rendering in game engines such as Unreal Engine promise to enable fully photorealistic virtual humans within a few years …

Virtual embodiment using 180 stereoscopic video
DH Landau, BS Hasler, D Friedman – Frontiers in Psychology, 2020 –
One of the most exciting possibilities of virtual reality is inducing in participants the illusion of owning a virtual body. This has become an established methodological paradigm allowing the …

A real-time display methods for large-scale human body data
BS Shin, NY Yen, JH Park, YS Jeong – Multimedia Tools and Applications, 2016 – Springer
As the importance of big-data processing has increased, a considerable amount of research has been done in several areas. We focused on developing methods.

Recent advances in facial appearance capture
O Klehm, F Rousselle, M Papas… – Computer Graphics …, 2015 – Wiley Online Library
Abstract Facial appearance capture is now firmly established within academic research and used extensively across various application domains, perhaps most prominently in the entertainment …