Motion Capture Animation | Animation Tips

by : The Ant

Overcoming misconceptions faced by animators regarding motion capture

One of the basic reasons why animation companies baulk at motion capture is because of misconceptions rather than face when the reality is that motion capture can actually make things cheaper and easier for animation companies.

Based on Nickelodeon's model, a half-hour motion capture animation program could cost as little as $200,000 versus a minimum of $400,000 per episode for a traditional cell animated half-hour program.

A 1997 Los Angeles Times article, Marla Matzer provides another perspective on costs: "Medialab... estimates that a 'full body' character can be animated for as little as $1,000 per minute; over a series of shows, the price can go even lower. Cell animation, by contrast, can cost as much as $5,000 a minute." these prices don't include other production elements, such as backgrounds

The costing goes up because in traditional animation the number of personnel involved is much higher than compared to motion capture or mocap for short.

Mocap is fast becoming the mainstay in many animated movies and non animation movies cause the usage of mocap can make characters like for example Davy Jones and his crew in the movie pirates of the Caribbean, and so on. And the best part was that when they came to the part where Davy Jones was to b shown as the real person Bill Nighy was used both in cgi and normal person to potraray Davy Jones.

Motion capture is reffered to as 3D rotoscoping. But the problem was that the stigma that was associates with rotoscope seems to have come into motioncapture. For example in movies where one character is completely different from the others, lets say for example in terms of physical appearience. As long as the picture is running correctly and the desired results are available there is no need for people to know that the given movie is made using rotoscope. But for most people the usage of rotoscope was making them feel that it was innadiquate or just not natural.

In motion capture the actor and the action is saved frame by frame and fed to the character to be animated. Thus in mocap it can be said that in all since the animation used is natural and the real animation. Dancers stroke a metaphorical canvas, sketching ephemeral lines that are lost in the moment of creation. The invention of film and video immortalized some of these centuryY5 greatest dancers, preserving their movement for the next generation. But the quality of such recordings betrays the vitality of the dancer, often leaving the viewer with snatches of their genius seen through a murky lens. Motion capturing, the product of body sensors that create a constellation-like skeleton reassembled with computer brushes and palettes, may change the dancers predicament de rigueur by invigorating a self they didn't know they had. Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar of Riverbed have motion captured the legendary dancer Bill T. Jones for their exhibit at Cooper Union. The artists call it "Ghost catching," the term Native Americans gave to photography which some believed stole their souls.

The feature-length Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, produced by Pentafour in 1999, employed one performer for the body of each character and another for its facial data. Body performers were chosen because they matched the height and body shape of the characters in the film. Voice performers for the film are recognizable stars (including Brendan Fraser, Leonard Nimoy, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Hale, and John Rhys Davies), a common marketing decision for feature films. Incidentally, shooting of the film's studio material lasted eight weeks and the films' cost is estimated to be under US$20 million, about one-fifth that of a Disney animated feature.

A 1996 Wired article by Evantheia Schibsted suggests that motion capture taps into intangible elements of experience. In the article, the author refers to Merce Cunningham's opinion of a specific type of software called Lifeforms, which "is not revolutionizing dance but expanding it, because you see movement in a way that was always there-but wasn't visible to the naked eye." Dancer and software designer Theela Shiphorst extends this idea, adding that "the nonlinguistic knowledge inherent in physical training is a richly technical world that can inform technological development."