In this paper, we present a virtual audience simulation system for Virtual Reality (VR). The system implements an audience perception model controlling the nonverbal behaviors of virtual spectators, such as facial expressions or postures. Groups of virtual spectators are animated by a set of nonverbal behavior rules representing a particular audience attitude (e.g., indifferent or enthusiastic). Each rule specifies a nonverbal behavior category: posture, head movement, facial expression and gaze direction as well as three parameters: type, frequency and proportion. In a first user-study, we asked participants to pretend to be a speaker in VR and then create sets of nonverbal behaviour parameters to simulate different attitudes. Participants manipulated the nonverbal behaviours of single virtual spectator to match a specific levels of engagement and opinion toward them. In a second user-study, we used these parameters to design different types of virtual audiences with our nonverbal behavior rules and evaluated their perceptions. Our results demonstrate our system’s ability to create virtual audiences with three types of different perceived attitudes: indifferent, critical, enthusiastic. The analysis of the results also lead to a set of recommendations and guidelines regarding attitudes and expressions for future design of audiences for VR therapy and training applications.

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