With interests in video games art and design, animation, illustration, character design, human computer interaction, cyberpsychology and research methods and practice, much of my research to date has centred on the Uncanny Valley phenomenon in realistic, human-like characters featured in animation and video games.This includes how aspects of dynamic facial animation and speech may be manipulated to reduce the uncanny in empathetic, realistic human-like characters or exaggerate the uncanny to enhance the fear factor in characters intended for the horror genre. This research expands to issues of psychopathy, facial mimicry, mirror neuron activity (MNA), emotional contagion and attachment theory in humans, leading to a new standpoint as to the cause of the uncanny based on a perceived lack of empathy in a character. The research outcomes are not only applicable to characters featured in animation and video games, but also those featured in virtual simulations beyond the domain of entertainment, such as healthcare and education.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Dr. Angela Tinwell's research on the Uncanny Valley in human-like characters is recognized at an international level. As well as British media coverage on BBC television and radio, her work has been featured in news articles for The Guardian and Times Higher Education and in the American magazines Smithsonian, New Yorker, and IEEE Spectrum Magazine. In 2012, Tinwell completed her PhD dissertation, titled "Viewer Perception of Facial Expression and Speech and the Uncanny Valley in Human-Like Virtual Characters," and she has since published extensive studies on the topic. Her publications include empirical studies in the journal Computers in Human Behavior and theoretical writings for Oxford University Press. Tinwell's research into the Uncanny Valley in human-like characters is relevant in academia and industry, and she has presented her work with animators from the special effects company Framestore at the London Science Museum. As part of the Digital Human League, Tinwell is working with visual effects professionals at Chaos Group (creators of V-Ray rendering software) aimed at overcoming the Uncanny Valley.
Affective computing, HCI, realism, human-like characters, facial expression, speech, games, animation.