On Tuesday, a lucky few of us got to go on a trip that ventured outside of the confines of the Shepherds West building. Drinking more coffee than one body ever needs, we went to do some film and games grade motion capture at the impressive facility at E.Motion.
Our first hurdle was actually trying to find the place, which proved to be more difficult than we first thought but we got there in the end (read: we got lost). Once there we went straight into the mo-cap studio. Our host for the day, Val, introduced us to the 32 motion and infared cameras that were constantly watching our every move, along with some of the hardware and software involved with capturing the motion. She informed us that these could then be used to create a real time rig within your 3D package of choice; in this case we were able to see MotionBuilder.
Being told how everything works was very impressive in itself, but actually seeing it working is a whole different ball game. It starts with one of the students from our Visual Effects Animation Professional class (in this case, Andre Giordani) clawing his way into a very tight black suit. I’m sure quite a lot of you are aware of what these are, but for those of you who don’t they’re the suits which have the famous white markers placed on all major points of this body. These points are then tracked and triangulated by the 32 specially developed cameras at a constant 120FPS. The data is streamed into the software to create an onscreen rig which can be used as a template, or a specially created rig which is unique to the actor and can be created with a short calibration time.
Using the template rig is a default technique created by the software. This seems to work really well, but we were shown with proper calibration and specially designed gloves that work with the motion capture, that capture motion to within 1.5mm.
Val then showed us two demos. The first was with two actors walking towards eachother and then hugging, the second with one actor shooting the other with a G36 assault rifle. Both were set up for motion capture and through this we were able to really appreciate the flexibility of working with this sort of setup.
It wasn’t all positive though. We were warned that all this information needs a large amount of necessary clean-up work before it would be given to the client and able to be used accurately, with one days’ worth of shooting taking approximately two weeks of clean-up work.
Overall, the insight that we were given thanks to Val and E.Motion was fantastic and our deepest thanks go out to them for letting us take part in the experience. It was of massive benefit to the class to gain knowledge of how this sort of process is conducted and the pressures and problems that are involved.
If you have any questions with regards to motion capture as a whole, our classes or what we were able to see on Tuesday then do get back to me in the comments section below.
And once again a massive thanks to Val and E.Motion!