Technical Art for Animation and VFX

Archive for the motion capture category

SIGGRAPH2009: Autodesk Master Classes posted

May 25th, 2009

This year’s list of character animation related classes:

Rigging for the Masses: Automated Large-Scale Production Rigging
TJ Galda, Electronic Arts Canada

Advanced Character Rigging and Facial Animation Pipelines
Sylvain Côté, Artificial Mind & Movement

PyMEL: Harnessing the Power of Python™ in Maya
Chad Dombrova, Luma Pictures

Mocap and Character Rigging Demystified
Marc-André Guindon, NeoReel Inc

Animating with Character Studio
Hugo Morales, BioWare

Produced By Conference 2009

May 25th, 2009

I signed up for this year’s Produced By Conference. There are a couple mo-cap related talks this year – one hosted by the Motion Capture Society.

Here’s a quick description from the PGA’s site:

Presented by the Producers Guild of America and hosted by Sony Pictures Studios, the Produced By Conference brings together the entire producing profession—from acclaimed Oscar and Emmy winners, to experienced team members, to the young storytellers who represent the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.

I primarily signed up for film oriented sessions that had topics relating to motion capture and VFX. I’m especially interested to see how Cameron views his experiences on Avatar.

A1 – Profile: James Cameron – Seeing The Future in 3D
B4 – The Collaborative Process of Visual Effects: From Previs To Post
C10 – Performance/Motion Capture Production Technology
A8 – Profile: Pixar Method of Producing
C6 – Made In The USA: Navigating Domestic Tax Incentives Sponsored by Entertainment Partners
D2 – Assembling A First-Rate Producing Team: How To Get Hired By The Best In The Biz
A3 – Profile: Gordon On Gordon, How To Be A Great Creative Producer Sponsored by American Airlines
A5 – Who Does What? The Role of The Creative Producer Sponsored By Plymouth Rock Studios
A7 – *World Premiere* PGA/ASC Camera Assessment Series
B9 – A New Dimension: 3D Stereoscopic Production Sponsored By Real D

Should be a great weekend with lots to talk about. I’ll toss up some notes once things calm down again.

Drop by the conference’s site for more info –

Mars Needs Moms Wraps!

May 25th, 2009

The Mars Needs Moms shoot wrapped last Monday – ahead of schedule.

This was my first feature shoot and by far the longest and most engaging. I don’t think that many cg artists realize exactly what kind of an effort it takes to capture an entire movie’s worth of performances. I want to thank the entire cast and crew for their dedication, patience and overall incredible attitude during all the moments of what were sometimes very, very long days.

The more I get to work with everyone at IMD, the more I realize exactly how special this studio really is.  They’re a very passionate group and it shows every day.

The Art Institutes’ Pear Pirate Commercial

November 2nd, 2008

This was one of the more interesting gigs I was part of at Cinemanix. Always nice to work with the guys at Animalspots. Their second shoot with us, this  experience was MUCH more streamlined and less stressful as a direct result of the pipeline improvements and training we had worked on throughout that year.* Having a short motions list is always nice, too. 😉

My contributions included shoot coordination, mocap tech (ran the system + set up the mocap suit), tracking/solving and some minimal pipeline consulting for the MotionBuilder <> Max Biped workflow.

The final spot:

The behind the scenes:

* Many, many thanks to all the former mocaptionators at Cinemanix that were on-board for that ‘adventure’.

Animation Mentor’s Shawn Kelly on Mocaptionating

July 17th, 2008

I want to take a second to thank Shawn Kelly for sharing his POV on mocap in the CGTantra article Motion Capture Is Your Friend. Those that have worked with motion capture long enough to actually learn how to use the tool effectively seem to share the same options about the technology. You will find similar statements in in numerous threads on CGtalk, Softimage|Net and most every cg animation related forum (you’ll even find it right here in The Mocaptionator’s Handbook V1.0).

I leave you with Shawn’s closing statements:

“Animation is the act of bringing characters to life. If that’s what you do, I don’t care if you’re using Maya , Softimage, Lightwave, Animation Master, Flash or Motion Builder or your H1B Pencil or an armatured puppet! I don’t care if your reference is video reference, yourself in a mirror, or a day at the park, and I certainly don’t care if you are using your animation skills to mold a crappy motion capture performance into something memorable and truly alive! If you are using the tools at your disposal to bring characters to life, then guess what?


And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

P.S. If you notice the credits in the pictures, you’ll find fellow Phasespace user Greg Worley’s name. Greg’s WorleyWorks studio probably isn’t what you envisioned as a typical mocap vendor. You kinda’ just have to see it to understand.

VES/MCS Mocap Panel Article

July 6th, 2008

Couldn’t make it to the VES/MCS Mocap Panel? Read all about it (minus any mention of the motion capture society 🙁

Many thanks to Demain Gordon’s ‘flashlight in the face’ style moderation and all the animators’ input. Sanders, Rausch and Meehan all commented on how their shops integrate motion capture into their projects. Debevec explained the new animated tension map creation techniques his team are developing.

A big hand for Demian and the Motion Capture Society for their part in the event. Great stuff folks!

2008 SIGGRAPH Autodesk® MasterClasses

July 2nd, 2008

Current Motionbuilder Classes:

Tuesday, August 12

1:30 p.m. -3:30 p.m.

Inside the MotionBuilder SDK: With An Eye Towards Production

Instructor: Greg Elshoff

Wednesday, August 13

3:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m.

Autodesk® MotionBuilder® software Rigging: Customization Techniques

Instructor: Eric Lalumiere

Thursday, August 14

3:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m.

Autodesk® MotionBuilder® software: Motion Capture Solving for Hands

Instructor: Thomas Champon

Other character-related classes:


All day

Storyboarding/Story Development at Pixar: Work Methods and Insights

Instructor: Matthew Luhn, Andrew Gordon

Tuesday, August 12

3:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m.

Smart Kinematics: Using IK & FK simultaneously

Instructor: TJ Galda, Electronic Arts

View all classes here:

Motion Capture/Previz Pipeline Tools

June 19th, 2008

I recently wrote an article called The Mocaptionator’s Handbook V1.0 as an aid for animators using motion capture. For the most part, I stay away from talking about custom tools I feel need written to help the pipeline along.

If you’re interested in that, you should probably check this post. Brad Friedman talks about the tools he built while working on Ironman and Hulk. Pretty incredible stuff.

EVENT: Performance Capture Technology Used For Animation

June 18th, 2008

VES Technology Committee & Motion Capture Society


Performance Capture Technology Used For Animation
“Demystifying Motion Capture Techniques”
Performance capture technology is here to stay. More and more studios are creating Digital
Characters for their stories. This panel is designed to address advances in motion capture
technologies that are currently in use producing various types of animation. How different are all of
these systems? Our panelists will creatively enlighten us with real solutions and insights into the
companies who provide the technology and know-how to capture “human performances”.

Demian Gordon – Chair of Motion Capture Society

Eyetronics – – Nick Tesi – Markerless Face + Inertial MoCap System
Motion Analysis Studios – Dave Blackburn – Passive Optical Motion Capture System
Henson Digital Puppeteering System – Kerry Shea – Real-Time Puppeteer of 3D CG Character
Vicon – House of Moves – Robin Pengelly – Passive Optical Motion Capture System
Sony – John Meehan – Character Animation from Mocap
Giant Studios – Ryan Champney – Passive Optical Motion Capture System
ILM – Mike Sanders – Character Animation from Mocap
USC ICT – Paul Debevec – Rapid High Resolution Face Scanning
Image-Metrics – Patrick Davenport – Facial Animation Capture Direct from Video

If you’re interested, head on over to the MCS forums.

Mocap Club Posts New Motionbuilder Tutorials

June 18th, 2008

Check them out at: