As an artist and animator (and one of the most recent additions to the team), Bethany is responsible for the creation and development of Virti’s Virtual Humans
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’ve always been passionate about art and animation, and have always aspired to a career in this field through my love of animated films. This led me to study for a BS in Animation at Mount Ida College, followed by a BFA in Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. I recently moved to Beverly, Massachusetts, and I enjoy living here because it is closer to my family and where I grew up.
When did you first become interested in virtual and augmented reality technology?
Whilst I was at Northeastern University studying for my MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication, I started working on a project with a group of PhD students as a 3D animator. They were studying the interactions between virtual humans and real humans in the health field, which really opened my eyes to what VR and AR tech could do.
Aside from that experience, I believe that storytelling is at the root of my fascination with VR and AR technology. It’s fascinating to witness its use by animation studios to transport the user into a completely different and unfamiliar space; it truly has transformative power.
When (and why) did you join the Virti team?
Having only joined in September 2021, my journey at Virti has just begun! I applied for the role because I was (and still am) hugely excited by the opportunities that lie ahead to create digital art whilst working remotely. The flexibility of the role was also really appealing to me, and the entire team has been so welcoming since I joined.
Can you describe your role at Virti? What does a ‘typical’ day look like?
I work in close partnership with the other members of the Virtual Humans team, and together we design, build and iterate Virti’s interactive human avatars. They can be used for soft-skills, communication and leadership training, and sentiment and conversational analysis.
For me, a typical day will involve meetings and catch-ups with the team throughout the morning, and then creating and modifying 3D pieces during the afternoon. This could range from editing an asset’s texture within Adobe Substance Painter, to rigging and editing a character in Maya. I am currently working on creating a way for Virtual Human users to have more avatar and environment options.
What skills did you bring to the team, and what skills have you developed since joining?
I have an extensive knowledge of 3D software and the principles of animation, and it’s been rewarding to put this knowledge into practice and share it with my colleagues since joining Virti. Over the past two months I’ve also developed new animation skills, owing to my work in Character Creator 3.
What excites you about being part of Virti?
Every member of the Virti team is so enthusiastic and positive about what they do, and that’s really inspiring. I’m excited to work in a team where everyone is driven by a common motivation, and where people are genuinely keen to learn something new and build their skillset.
What’s your proudest achievement (so far) as part of the Virti team?
Editing the “look” of the Oculus hands for the Virtual Human VR team has definitely been a highlight! Hands are notoriously difficult to recreate convincingly, but I was able to remodel the hands of our Virtual Humans so they now look really realistic.
Looking ahead, what do you think the rest of the year holds for Virti? What are you particularly looking forward to?
There’s so much to look forward to! I can’t wait to get stuck into new projects and contribute to putting Virti’s technology and products to positive use. I am especially excited to work on projects during Virti’s Jam week. This week gets everyone’s creative juices flowing, as we all get to work on our passion projects and with departments we may not normally interact with. I look forward to creating an avatar customizer that will allow for users to have more creative freedom when using Virtual Human.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
When I’m not busy animating, I enjoy challenging myself with video games, getting lost in eye-opening documentaries and trying new foods with my collection of hot sauces!