Amy Johnson 3D recreation brings dead pilot back to life

Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia, has been recreated with 3D technology by the Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) Digital Design Studio.

To mark 75 years since her death, the studio made a fully interactive digital 3D version of Johnson, which can even walk and talk about her achievements.

Motion capture technology was used by GSA and the University of Hull's Immersive Virtual Environment (Hive) to create the model.

Raw footage of Johnson and actress Rachel Harris was captured and computer scientists then applied 3D modelling effects and animation techniques to create the character.

‘Virtual Amy’ will go display in the children's library within Hull Central Library as part of the Amy Johnson Festival.

"The Virtual Amy project showcases how the technology and engineering can be used to create something visually stunning,” said festival director Rick Welton.

"The aim of the Amy Johnson Festival is to inspire people, especially women, to take an interest in engineering, as well as demonstrating how engineering blends with art and design."

A model of 19th century MP William Wilberforce, who pioneered the abolition of the slavery movement, is also being developed

Jon Purdy, Hive centre manager, said: "It's an honour to get the opportunity to recreate two pioneering historical figures using movie-standard special effects.

"The technology we've adopted means the Amy and William characters will be recreated in a very realistic way and in high definition. The characters will recount stories from their life - retelling significant points in history in an unusual and interactive way."

Paul Chapman, acting director of the GSA Digital Design Studio, said: "We're very happy to have worked with the University of Hull on this project creating the high-quality motion capture and 3D modelling of Amy Johnson and William Wilberforce.

"We feel positive that the exhibition will be a success and will highlight the incredible lives of these two pioneers."

Amy Johnson completed the journey from London to Darwin in 1930, one of many record-breaking flights during her career.

Last year, the GSA teamed up with the Royal College of Surgeons to create a digital 3D model of the human body for use in pre-operative planning and surgical analysis for medical students and researchers. 

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles