Software design and architectures for interactive avatars: a hands-on approach (Seminar, WS 2017-2018)


Important News

[2018-05-16] The video showing the final project summary is finally online:

[2018-02-12] Final project presentation on Friday 16th February 2018, E1.1 room 121.

[2017-10-12] Inserted the calendar of the classes. First class: 27th October 2017.

[2017-08-24] The seminar is already filled with 20 participation requests. New applications will be placed on a waiting list.

[2017-07-13] Seminar announced. With respect to the previous year, we will use Unity (instead of the Blender Game Engine) as the animation platform.


“Software design and architectures for interactive avatars: a hands-on approach” is a seminar for the students of the Saarland University, Germany, Winter Semester 2017-2018.

In this seminar, you will discover the hidden mechanics driving current autonomous embodied conversational agents.
The seminar will last about 12 weeks and is composed of four parts.
In the first part, we will introduce the fundamentals of 3D rendering and character animation.
In the second part, we will give an overview of the state-of-the-art implementations.
In the third part, you will get familiar with the authoring pipeline for the production of interactive avatars.
In the last part, you will implement your own interactive avatar in a group project.

This seminar is not of the kind: “read a paper + present it + listen to the others”. It will rather be a “hands-on” work: use several 3D applications, study APIs, develop intermediate demos, show a final demo.

Students will receive several mini-assignment throughout the whole seminar.
Regular meetings will allow you to share your experiences and progress.

Participants are supposed to attend the seminar with their own laptop and prepare at least 10 Gigabytes of space for the installation of the needed software.


For questions and registration send an e-mail with your matriculation number to: fabrizio_punkt_nunnari_at_dfki_punkt_de.

Later, students have to register in HISPOS to receive their grades. An official e-mail will follow at the beginning of the semester.


  • Fundamentals of 3D Characters’ Rendering and Animation;
  • Architectures for Embodied Conversational Agents;
  • Character Generation Tools & Techniques;
  • Authoring Support (Blender Edit);
  • Real-time control (Unity Game Engine);
  • Projects report.


Classes: every Friday @ 10:00 until 12:00.

First class: 27th October 2017.

27.10.2017 – First class.
03.11.2017 – No Class!
10.11.2017 – Regular class.
17.11.2017 – Regular class.
24.11.2017 – Regular class.
01.12.2017 – Regular class.
08.12.2017 – Regular class.
15.12.2017 – Regular class.
22.12.2017 – TBA
29.12.2017 – No Class!
05.01.2018 – TBA
12.01.2018 – Regular class.
19.01.2018 – Regular class.
26.01.2018 – Regular class.
02.02.2018 – Regular class.

Location: Building E1.1, first floor, left corridor, seminar room 1.06.


We will use Blender [] as the authoring platform. Please, download Blender and get confident with the basic windows manipulation system. Follow this tutorial before starting the third class Blender uses Python 3 as its scripting language. Hence, get confident with the Python syntax before starting the third class:

For the real-time animation, we will use Unity []. Please get confident with the Unity interface following the essential tutorials: Unity uses C# as its scripting language. Get ready by learning some basic C# syntax before the seminar.

The lecturers,

Fabrizio Nunnari & Alexis Heloir

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