Q1 2019

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57 Q1 2019 / CINEMONTAGE 57 Q1 2019 / CINEMONTAGE TECH TIPS by Joseph Herman M otion capture, or MoCap, is the technique of capturing a human actor's physical performance and applying the captured data to a 3D computer- generated character so that it moves in the same convincing, life-like manner. Unlike time-consuming 3D computer animation, in which an animator must manually manipulate the poses of a digital character's skeletal rig (its underlying virtual armature), motion capture allows you to capture the movement of a character in real time. Computer animation, unlike motion capture, can take days or even weeks to accomplish. So if motion capture is so fast, why not use it all the time? Why bother animating digital characters by hand at all? The answer to those questions lies in the kind of work you are doing. If you are looking for stylized, exaggerated or cartoonish motion for your characters — the kind of motion you would expect to see in a Looney Tunes animation — you'll get the best results by manually animating them. Just be prepared to spend lots of time doing so. That is what the art of animation is all about. However, if you want truly life-like movement, or want to integrate 3D characters into live-action shots alongside human actors (think motion pictures like 2009's Avatar or 2001's Planet of the Apes), then motion capture is your best bet. James Cameron was, in fact, an early pioneer of using motion capture in feature films when he used it as early as Titanic (1997). Today, it's used extensively in the motion picture industry for visual effects. One problem with traditional motion capture, however, is the fact that motion capture systems are often expensive and involved. Most of the time, they require actors to wear complex sensor-laden suits. LET'S GO MARKERLESS Several years ago, a company called iPi Soft, based in Moscow, developed a motion capture system that was totally markerless. In other words, to the great interest of many who work in animation and visual effects, it was offering a new technology that didn't require an actor to wear any suit at all — or even special clothing for that matter. Instead, the system analyzed the motion of the body and automatically extracted the MoCap data from the motion. It also had an option to work with depth sensors like the Motion Capture for the Masses iPi Soft Does Away with the MoCap Suit Figure 1: iPi Soft Motion Capture is a markerless motion capture system that allows you to capture human performances and apply them to 3D digital characters.

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