|Body performer||Alice Dinnean Vernon|
Dawn is a digital character designed by NVidia and constructed for performance by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The eponymous demo is called "the dawn of cinematic computing", and was used to showcase the capabilities of the GeForce FX series of video cards. Dawn has since been used for demonstration purposes and for hosting live events.
Dawn is a forest fairy with two translucent wings, pointy ears, and a pair of antennae on her head. She wears a revealing dress, made of leaves and blue petals. The digital character is set in an enchanted forest, with a single tree branch floating in an environment that is created with forest foliage cube mapping.
Dawn is operated via the HDPS and utilizes two puppeteers: one for the face/voice performance and one for body movement by either a static arm-rig (for upper body only) or by motion capture (for full body movement).
The character model was created by Steven Giesler, a 3D artist who also created many characters for the Final Fantasy series. The model of Dawn was designed to be extremely realistic, with high-resolution photorealistic textures, a detailed facial model, and life-like animation.
Dawn's first public showing was in November 2002 at the Game Developers Conference, running in real-time on a GeForce FX card. Dawn appears on the screen in real-time and can interact with audience members. The puppeteers are usually in a booth out of sight of the audience, and hidden cameras allow the puppeteers to view the audience members.
Dawn was an innovative breakthrough for photo-realistic humanesque characters, as the computer animated character was able to be preformed and rendered in real time. Previously, such animation had to be pre-rendered.