Friday, October 28, 2011

Digital Double

Being a college professor means you occasionally get to do something fun. Here's some footage from a field trip to the motion capture studio at Digital Double in Redmond, owned by Kamal Siegel, a professor in my department. This is me doing my best Andy Serkis impression. Just monkeyin' around. What you see is raw unwrangled data, so the arm pops and knee buckles are par for the course. Digital Double uses an optical system, BioStage by Organic Motion, a system that uses 14 cameras positioned around a set draped in highly reflective material, such that the nonreflective subject is isolated as a 3D silhouette and the skeleton is drawn as bones down the center of said silhouette. For this reason, bunching up the limbs near the trunk can sometimes result in the data becoming garbled (explaining the momentary arm pops when they linger too near the torso for too long). The myth is that motion capture saves time: in fact, motion capture animation takes twice as long to wrangle as keyframe data created from scratch. Where motion capture really shines is as reference footage in 3D. As an animation student, you can learn more from analyzing mocap data than any other form of reference.

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