As some of you may know, we recently launched a new course called "Visual Effects Animation Professional". Well, our first group of students from the courses have been handing their projects in and I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase a fantastic piece of work by Hyeon Joon Kang. His work clearly shows how the VFX pipeline works and if we retrace his steps, we can take a closer look at each part of the process. Joon's project is a great illustration of what we teach in this new course and what you can achieve in just 18 weeks with us.
Joon started his project by capturing a video of the actor's movements using Motion Capture. There are of course a variety of ways in which one can do that, ranging from using super expensive professional systems like Vicon Mocap which requires a dedicated studio to set up, right down to the Xbox Kinect which at about £100, is a pretty reasonable option. The latter is what Joon used for his project.
The next step was for Joon to turn this mocap video in to an animated skeleton. In order to do that, he used a software called iPi Soft. Essentially, iPi Soft takes the data captured in the mocap video and turns it in to animation data. Once that's done the animation from the skeleton can then be placed on to our own models and rigged geometry within MotionBuilder. After you have added your animation data to your own rigs and models, you can then export the files from Motionbuilder and more crucially import them in to the 3D software package of your choice, which in Joon's case was Maya.
Check out the video below.
Joon then used Houdini to take the man and edit the animations together in to the sequence that he wanted.
Finally, by emitting particles from the geometry to make the trails and utilising a technique (borrowed from the Krakatoa renderer) to render huge numbers of particles, Joon was able to achieve that fluid type look. Everything was rendered in Houdini's own renderer, Mantra, which was able to handle the large number of particles and motionblur effects used. All this together with a multitude of other techniques inside Houdini Joon was able to create that fantastic trailing effect in his video, check it out here, or just play it at the top of this page.
This technique is commonly used in our industry and can be seen in blockbusters like Harry Potter (take a look at this Cinesite showreel). One particular example that sticks out in my mind is Dumbledore appearing from dust in the penultimate film of this series. It has also been largely adopted in the advertising and commercials sectors, and below are a few examples from The Mill for you to check out.