Computer Graphics World

September / October 2017

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s e p t e m b e r . o c t o b e r 2 0 1 7 c g w 1 9 Moving Forward Motion-capture technology continues to advance It seems like only yesterday when studios debated the merits of using motion cap- ture to animate characters. The question really wasn't whether the results were realistic. Rather, the discussion focused on the time and effort required to set up a system and calibrate it for usage, and then the time and effort needed to process and clean up the data. And then there was the cost of a mocap system. Those issues are far less of a concern today with the advanced technology that's available for studios of all sizes and the pricing models that make it afford- able for almost any size facility. Indeed, there are many modes of motion capture that span many genres, from entertainment applications such games and films, to science and re- search. Likewise, mocap can be accom- plished using a number of methods, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Current technology has moved beyond simply capturing an actor's walk cycle to one that captures an actor's perfor- mance, and no film series encompasses this evolution more than Planet of the Apes. In a short time span, Weta Digital developed groundbreaking mocap methods for the rebooted Planet of the Apes (2011), developed a mobile per- formance-capture system for the harsh locations and weather for Dawn (2014), and then created a more complex system for War's (2017) extreme outdoor conditions. In fact, just in the past several months, we have seen a range of groundbreaking motion-capture applications, including the Royal Shakespeare Company's stage production of "The Tempest," morphing the character Ariel into various forms on stage in front of audiences in real time. Another stunning application can be found in Ninja Theory's video game Hell- blade, which blurs the line between game and film production thanks to the use of real-time motion capture. And, for the Oscar-winning Jungle Book feature film, live- action cameras and objects were tracked with a massive motion-capture system to measure position and orienta- tion so the artists could accurately add backgrounds, animals, and other CG elements. VR is also leveraging mocap, from head-mounted displays to large-scale VR arcades a la what one vendor calls "the warehouse model." As the industry's needs change, the mocap vendors are tuning their tech- nology to offer better systems for less money to meet these new demands.

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