Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Francesco Petrarca, the mocap experiment in Blender

This post is related with the Wikipedia editathon we are organizing for the open source exhibition "Imago Animi", a project derived from the previous experience of "Facce. I molti volti della storia umana".
This time I will write about the experiment in facial MoCap we performed with the 3D model of the FFR (Forensic Facial Reconstruction) of Francesco Petrarca. The poet was indeed one of the five historical personalities connected with the city of Padua, who were the protagonist of a specific session within the exhibition "Facce". Moreover Petrarch is also present in "Imago Animi", due to the fact that its mortal remains were studied by the scientist Giovanni Canestrini, born in Revò, a town very close to Cles (Trentino - Italy), where the exhibition is currently open to visitors.
The image below (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License) is the result of the Forensic facial Reconstruction of Francesco Petrarca, performed starting from the cast of the skull, found in 2005 in the "fondo Canestrini" at the University of Padua.

The FFR portrait of Francesco Petrarca

This cast is the only data available for the FFR, because, as the 2013 recognition on the mortal remains revealed, the skeleton of Petrarch is currently buried with a female skull, dated (with the C14 techniques) between 1134 and 1280 (almost one century before the life of the poet). The aDNA analysis performed in 2004 by Prof. David Caramelli (University of Florence) confirmed this thesis (the skeleton had a male DNA, while the skull a female DNA) [1].
In 2015 Arc-Team has been commissioned to perform the Forensic Facial reconstruction of Petrarca and other historical personalities, in order to prepare the open exhibition "Facce". The work started with the 3D documentation of the cast of the "fondo Canestrini", done (with SfM techiques) by Luca Bezzi (Arc-Team). The cast was previously validated by Dott. Nicola Carrara (of the Anthropological Museum of the Univesrity of Padua), with osteometric measurements based on the drawing published by Giovanni Canestrini on his study about the mortal remains of the poet [2]. Cicero Moraes, the forensic specialist of Arc-Team, later performed the FFR in Blender, with the techniques developed during the years starting from this first post in ATOR: Forensic Facial Reconstruction with Free Software.
Once achieved the final 3D model, we decided to test Blender potentialities in facial MoCap, starting from previous experiences. In this case the idea was a short video in which Francesco Petrarca would have "reciting" one of its poetry and, in particular, the proemial sonnet of the Canzioniere ("Voi ch'ascoltate in rime sparse il sono...").
The video below shows the final result...

... while this video shows the "making of".

For the two open exibitions ("Facce" and "Imago Animi") has been chosen a combination of the previous videos, in order to show also the technique of facial MoCap. The final product, you can see here below, has been performed by Cicero Moraes (Arc-Team) using the facial MoCap tools of Blender, starting from the original video registered by Luca Bezzi (Arc-Team), with the technical help of Dott.ssa Emma Varotto and Dott. Nicola Carrara (Anthropological Museum of the Univesrity of Padua), which recorded the excellent performance of the actor Antonello Pagotto.

This post wants to be also a tribute to all the people involved in the project, for their professionalism and kindness!
Have a nice day!


[1] N. Carrara, L. Bezzi, Lo strano caso del cranio di Francesco Petrarca, in Imago Animi. Volti dal passato, 2018
[2] G. Canestrini, Le ossa di Francesco Petrarca, 1874
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