Technical Art for Animation and VFX

Archive for the motion capture category

IMD and All Good Things

April 26th, 2010

ImageMovers Digital will be closing after the completion of Mars Needs Moms… it’s still really hard to type that sentence, but I’ve waited long enough. It has been one heck of a ride and I couldn’t have asked to work with better people. We did the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

Since the announcement, I’ve been busy with the reel and networking. Made a trip to SF for a job fair at IMD North and visited a couple PhaseSpace powered mocap stages while I was in town. Thanks to the Motion Capture Society, I was lucky enough to get a seat at the Performance Capture Technology panel hosted by Dreamworks on Thursday. Incredible line-up of presenters, including IMD’s very own, John Root.  I also spent the last week  standing in as a mentor over at Rigging Mentor. Created some video training for MoBu related questions. Had a blast. Love to do it again.

VERY excited about my FXPHD classes this session: Crafting The Scene, Mathematics for Visual Effects and Design, Intermediate RenderMan. Especially the math class – I hate not knowing how my tools work under the hood, so I’m pumped to be part of this.

There’s much more I want to say, though I think I’m just going to quote a fellow IMD’er and call it a night…

“The future is bright. Time for beer.” – Geordie Martinez

Q&A with Naughty Dog’s Josh Scherr

March 6th, 2010

The Mocap Club has a great Q&A with Naughty Dog’s cinematics animation lead, Josh Scherr…

mocapclub.com

Uncharted 2: Behind the Scenes

February 9th, 2010

Great team. Great process. Great work…

IMD’s George Murphy and Jenn Emberly on FX Guide

February 8th, 2010

George and Jenn did a short interview about their work at IMD for A Christmas Carol for the folks over at FX Guide…

fxguide.com

I’d like to single out a quote from George…

“So that was one of the things that pushed us to create this head-cam technology where we could isolate the facial performance animation separately from the body capture and allow us to break those into different types of problems that could be dissected and gotten to much faster.”

Coincidentally, I heard one of the guys at work mention that exact same point in a meeting today. It underscores what I see as an important bit of theory and I really feel that type of thinking is crucial to not only coming up with effective and elegant solutions to very large problems, but also building a foundation which allows for intelligent maintenance and upgrading.

Free 2-day MotionBuilder SDK Training in San Francisco

February 2nd, 2010

Kristine Middlemiss from Autodesk is teaching this…

Free 2-day MotionBuilder SDK Training in San Francisco

The Autodesk Developer Network is offering a free 2-day MotionBuilder SDK training at Games Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco on March 9 and 10, 2010. This is a rare opportunity to work in a small class room environment with a very knowledgeable instructor on the last release of Autodesk MotionBuilder. The unique opportunity allows you to dive into the inner workings of the software, and come out with a strong fundamental knowledge of their architecture to see and understand how you can utilize and benefit from the SDK of this powerful software’s. For more details, go to the following links:

MotionBuilder SDK Training Description and Agenda

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=14379983

Register here for MotionBuilder SDK

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?id=6703509&siteID=123112&cname=MotionBuilder%20SDK,%20San%20Francisco,%20Mar%2009%202010,%20201008

Sign up while there’s still space!

Rigging Dojo Opens!

February 1st, 2010

It’s official… Rigging Dojo went live today!

I’ve learned a lot from Brad and Chad over the years. When RD was ready to go into Beta, I immediately signed up. After seeing firsthand how they operate … I gotta’ say that I’m very excited about the approach they’ve taken. All the RD guys know their stuff across a wide array of software and are used to ramping teams of artists up for production. You can learn most of what you need to on your own, but there’s a lot of time involved researching, testing and working through some painfully difficult issues. I swear it’s always that last 10% that seems to take the longest. If you’re like me, you really don’t have a lot of time for that kind of thing. In the long run, I’ve often found it’s worth the cost to go to someone with the experience, knowledge and ability to get you up and running quickly. So far, that’s exactly what I’ve found at the community Rigging Dojo is fostering.

They put up a nice lil’ FAQ on their site so you can get all the details. If you have questions, just email them. They’re usually really quick about getting back to people.

riggingdojo.com/faq

Digital Acting Blog

January 15th, 2010

Found a relatively new mocap blog on the interwebs… digitalacting.com. The person that runs it happens to be a VFX TD. If you’re a fellow mocap nerd, you’ll find his professional site is even more interesting… minchomarinov.com.

New fxPodcast: Avatar – Weta Digital

January 11th, 2010

Good stuff…

Avatar: Weta Digital

Joe Letteri, senior vfx supervisor for Weta Digital, details their mocap/facial capture tech and other aspects of their work on Avatar.

http://www.fxguide.com/modules/fxpodcast/files/fxg-100108-avatarweta.mp3

Lookslikematt 2010!

January 11th, 2010

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

You might have noticed that my posts have been fairly sparse over 2009. I had a lot of opportunities that I jumped headfirst into and sadly, had to neglect the website. I know… excuses, excuses. Right?

Here’s what was keeping me busy:

  • The Produced By Conference… to see the talks by the MCS panel, VES previs panel, the Stereoscopic 3D panel, James Cameron, Pixar producers and the PGA/ASC Camera Assestment Series.
  • CG CON…  checked out many of the animation classes from the Animation Mentor guys.
  • FXPHD… took classes for crowd work in Massive, scripting with Python, Maya and match-moving in PFtrack.
  • Beta Testing… software and what looks to be an excellent online school for rigging.
  • Some much needed traveling… trips to Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Wellington and Sydney.
  • and of course LOTS of mocap time with the great crew at ImageMovers Digital. :D

I’ve been very blessed to meet and work with some incredibly talented people over the last year. I hope you all had a chance to see Up, A Christmas Carol, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Avatar (all in 3D of course). Many of the people I met have put forth amazing effort to polishing those films and have been part of an incredible push on technology and artistry to make them a reality. 2009 really was an incredible year and I’m very proud of everything that was accomplished within the medium.

As far as animation goes, the plan for my 2010 is a few more classes with FXPHD, lots more python scripting and a welcome return to rigging and animating – for me it’s still all about the performance. I’ve had a lot of requests to update the The Mocaptionator’s Handbook to include some more detailed thoughts on facial mocap, props and tools. I’m not promising anything on that front this year, but we’ll see how it goes. ;)

Here’s to another great year!

- Matthew


SIGGRAPH 2009 Papers: Motion Editing

August 30th, 2009

A friend sent me this video to point out something he saw at SIGGRAPH regarding hand capture. However, I think the more interesting papers are those dealing with ground contacts and motion editing (about 1:28 into the video).

I remember reading in a couple different places about the directions the film industry is headed in and how realtime simulations are likely to play into that. The ability to edit those simulations quickly and easily becomes very important to be able to make simulated motion work for the specifics of a shot. That’s just as true for captured or procedurally generated motion. Especially as the hardware and processiong tech gets improves for motion capture.

In addition to the papers mentioned in that video, be on the look out for tools that allow artists to run simulations on top of existing motion data. For instance, adding more or less gravity to a character’s animation or retargeting motion to a character of a different weight or body type. I’ve heard of work being done in these areas in various universities.

I’m excited to see the effect these and other papers will have on the tools available to animators. I welcome any tech that gives the animator more time and ability to focus on a quality performance and less time on hacking tools just to get the work done. Pretty sure I’m not alone there.