Biomimetic Synthetic Gait – First peek at my Bachelor Thesis

Here is the first sneak peek of my Bachelor Thesis for Mechanical Engineering. It is wildly optimistic, super amazing and touches upon topics like: mechanics, software, neuroscience, robot technology, AI, control theory, physiology, biomechanics, genetic algorithms, underactuated dynamical systems as well as muscle redundancy problems.

The elevator speech is still an elusive one, but here goes:

My overall objective is to gain insight into the human nervous system related to gait koordination. How are the muscles orchestrated, which areas handle what, what is the actual involvement of the brain, what has been subcontracted elsewhere and how could a theoretical model of this look like.

My approach is through using a so called Predictive Controller for Forward Dynamics simulation. I am mainly concerned with humanoid gait patterns and have ended up basing my project on an existing system called PredictiveSim.

This system is written by and published alongside the following article:

Dorn, T. W., Wang, J. M., Hicks, J. L., & Delp, S. L. (2015). Predictive Simulation Generates Human Adaptations during Loaded and Inclined Walking. Plos One, 10(4), e0121407. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121407

In short terms the system defines a humanoid model with bones, joints, tendons and muscles along with a number of reflex loops between muscles and senses (Ie: foot contact, muscle stretch etc.). Basically just a greatly simplified model of a human containing only what is believed to be the most neccessary parts related to walking – Weirdly enough the brain isn’t included.

With this model you can define a goal that it should aim for, ie: try to move forward with a certain speed while doing your best to minimize energy consumption. This is a problem that gets solved/optimized by a Genetic Algorithm and after leaving it in the hands of a computer (or several) a lot of thinking starts happening but out comes something similar to this:

It doesn’t look like much for an animator or in general, but the interesting bit is that nobody has told this model how to move. It never saw anyone doing it, there are no parameters in the model that dictates how this should be done, no keyframes or experience or anything. The only input it got was to try to move and do it in the most energyefficient way.
Realizing that this looks somewhat like human gait in general, one may get the feeling that minimizing energy consumption is a pretty big reason for why we move as we do.

If anyone feels like trying it out for themselves feel free to either get the original code or pick up my version, which I will be updating throughout my project. So far it mainly has a bit more documentation and annotation.
It can be found here: jwPredictiveSim at

OMToolbox – Open Maya Toolbox

OMToolbox is a project I started a loooong time ago as is an extension of the first sculpting tools I made for Maya, also the first tools I ever wrote.

It started around my initial entry into the animation industry as a modelor, by frustration towards Mayas modeling toolset.
I had plenty of ideas for how to speed up my workflow with different tools but I couldn’t find the available online so I had to do my own, leading to my introduction to MEL.

After finishing the initial couple of tools I released them to the public under the name JWToolbox which by public demand later got turned into Open Maya Toolbox, meaning a community-based and maintained opensource toolbox for everything Maya. This caught the attention of Alias (Who owned Maya at that point) who featured the toolbox on their developers corner, however the community sadly died out when I no longer had the time to organize everything and couldn’t find a replacement, returning OMToolbox to a compilation of opensource Maya tools maintained by me… and I haven’t done a very good job at that lately with priorities not really pulling in that direction any longer. I’ll still update it occasionally tho, when I see fit.

Open Maya Toolbox @ Creative Crash




PAIE – Python Animation Import/Export

Being unfamiliar with blogs and their structure I’ll probably mess around with categorizing stuff and deciding how to post but here goes first tech-post nonetheless.

PAIE is a script I initially wrote for Radar Film on an animated feature called Berry and the Disco Worms and having grown tired of doing the same type of tools over and over again for different companies each time I got hired some place new, I decided to take a small cut in my pay to be able to release it opensource afterwards.. here it is 🙂

It’s a rather basic tool that allows you to export attribute values from a desired selection, save to a file and then load again to same or different selection afterwards.
It can export animation as well as poses, export from multiple namespaces at once and a bunch of other things.

Tool can be found on CreativeCrash – PAIE

I’ll prolly update it eventually and I reckon I might just update this post about it instead of cluttering up with more posts about same thing, but I’m not sure yet.