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3D Rendering of American Sign Language Finger-Spelling: A Comparative Study of Two Animation Techniques

Authors: Nicoletta Adamo-Villani


In this paper we report a study aimed at determining the most effective animation technique for representing ASL (American Sign Language) finger-spelling. Specifically, in the study we compare two commonly used 3D computer animation methods (keyframe animation and motion capture) in order to ascertain which technique produces the most 'accurate', 'readable', and 'close to actual signing' (i.e. realistic) rendering of ASL finger-spelling. To accomplish this goal we have developed 20 animated clips of fingerspelled words and we have designed an experiment consisting of a web survey with rating questions. 71 subjects ages 19-45 participated in the study. Results showed that recognition of the words was correlated with the method used to animate the signs. In particular, keyframe technique produced the most accurate representation of the signs (i.e., participants were more likely to identify the words correctly in keyframed sequences rather than in motion captured ones). Further, findings showed that the animation method had an effect on the reported scores for readability and closeness to actual signing; the estimated marginal mean readability and closeness was greater for keyframed signs than for motion captured signs. To our knowledge, this is the first study aimed at measuring and comparing accuracy, readability and realism of ASL animations produced with different techniques.

Keywords: motion capture, American sign language, DeafEducation

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