Saturday, 7 July 2012

More mocap

Here area a few more pics from us doing more mocap with the new Vicon gear. The flash on the camera really makes the markers light up (extra cool) and you can see some of the Blade software running in the background as well as the actual cameras with their red rings. After the first day the trainer swapped all the lenses over to our permanent set - nice wider angle versions which gave us much better data in this space. You can see we tried facial capture (Hi Yosha) though we didn't get upto processing that - that is much more work. I think the general consensus was that the hardware capturing we were under control, but that all the software steps were a bit of a minefield and we are going to be relying on the Blade documentation a great deal.

We talked through the logic of doing the work usign the production skeleton inside blade or just bringing the markers into Motionbuilder and doing the core solving and cleanup there instead. I am still not sure which is the better approach for working with CryEngine, hopefully Max can help us out with that once we get a bit better at other aspects of the pipeline.

At some point I will gave to have a go at getting custom characters into CryEngine. There are instructions on the Crydev site for mocap cleanup, creating additive animations from 3ds Max and much more. Other sites like JustMakeGames have video tutes as well. This vid shows some realtime data coming into CryEngine.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Male & Female Animation

One of the more entertaining moments during yesterday's mocap training was a short capture session where we were playing with walk capture. With all the animators present the discussion around male and female 'power centres' and how they effect a walk cycle was very interesting. Men driving their walk from the shoulders while women driving from the hips. Having our suited-up male actors trying the female walk was a real laugh. It seems clear that capturing rehearsals and tests for use later would be very helpful as the actors are more relaxed and arent 'acting' so much.

Anyhow, the discussion around both the mechanical differences between male and female walks (hip ratios etc) and the power centre differences was very interesting. The Bio Motion Lab has done a suite of research on walk motion and with some nice mocap created the interactive demo BMLwalker that allows us to play with a variety of traits in a walk cycle including a slider for male---female. You can see how dominant (forward) the shoulders are in the male data while the hips are the focus in the female captures.

[Bio Motion Lab demo - screenshots of female and male]

The BMLrunner does the same things with running data - more exaggerated again, love those girlie arms. The bone version is kinda fun as well, though it is too tempting to push the sliders to extremes.

[Bio Motion Lab demo - screenshots of  running and the skeleton]

For those with Digital Tutors suscriptions there is a whole set of walk-cycle tutes, the last of which is converting the male cycle to female. It is a relatively simple conversion as it doesnt actually push or pull hips/shoulders forward or back, but does accentuate hip sway arms, feet and knees.

There are reference videos online as well like these Male and Female standard walks.


To finish, here are some more screengrabs of me editing markers (including swaps) from some of the mocap captures yesterday in Blade. This can be a rather painstaking task when we have lots of occluded markers, it would be fast for a mocap specialist, for any of us 'occasionalists' it will be tricky. Last day of the training is today - I hope it all sinks in...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Shikhei Insects

I always liked macro and electron photography, the way they reveal a level of detail and complexity that we just don't perceive normally. Here we have some superb photos by Shikhei Goh that show off the wonders of our little insect friends. We get those amazing compound eyes, the shimmering iridescence of the body and  the detail of all those tiny hairs. The water drops on the eyes make great little lenses bringing even more detail into view for us - plus they just look cool.
Check out Shikhei's 500px gallery to see heaps more, plus those little geckos etc.

[Shikhei Goh photos via his 500px gallery]

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Day one of three with the sexy new mocap gear the uni has purchased today, we learnt about the hardware setup, config, callibration and then a suite of different captures with one then two actors and finally props. The Vicon Tseries kit is great quality and I am keen to explore the cleanup and more software-centric side of things tomorrow. It is just still so so groovy to see a cloud of dots moving around either in the Blade software that comes with the system or feeding through into Motionbuilder with skeleton attached.

This is just a quick shot of one of the students (John) in the initial stages of us sorting out his callibration, in the background is the Blade software showing the 3D view and the IR view of one of the cameras.


While we are looking at mocap here are a few vids. The first if of the same system we are working with, this time with Kangaroos as actors. Then some behind the scenes of some of the elite users in TinTin and Crysis2!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Olympics CG

With the London Olympics 2012 getting awfully close now, we are seeing more advertising and promotion from sponsors, media outlets and the games themselves. Here is the official CG promo video for the games which was just released and shows off a more cartoony feel. It presents the power and grace of the athletes with the superhero vibe along for the ride.

The digital work is by Passion Pictures, it lacks something but has some nice elements. The games produce more CG than promo pieces like this though, all the public works and grand architecture create a wealth of renderings and visualisations for us. Here are a few images of stadia and public spaces from various sources that show off some serious visualisation skills and in so doing some cool architecture. iedm even made this proposal for using the site after the games for F1, just to show off that they could.

[London Olympic architecure CG]

Here is a cg fly-through, well fly-over of the Olympic park as well.

To finish up, we like the Australian Foxtel tvc for the games which nicely transforms one athlete into the next. Super super stuff.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Arma 3 Engine

With all the attention that Day Z is getting, since the creator is spending his real energies as developer on Arma III it makes sense to see what they have cooking. Arma is perhaps the lead military sim engine of this type and the next upgrade sees a suite of enhancements to models, vehicular handling, lighting, physics and so forth. One of the nice things is they are modelling up the islands in superb detail for the action to take place in:

Here are some shots of the new detail that the Real Virtuality engine will deliver (features):

[Arma3 images via the official site]

Here are some of the videos showing off the engine in action as well - I hope that Day Z is easily ported across to this level of gorgeous detail with day, night, water and weather for us to endure. Seeing the level of complexity that the realism brings - stances endurance models etc - it still seems too easy to ping a shot off at someone a gazillion metres away though. Maybe a system which sets all these attributes for a player, some with better strength, some better pain thresholds and others better shots etc etc etc

Even some of these gameplay vids for Arma 2 show the kind of gameplay that the sandbox higher realism suggests - but I have higher hopes for Day Z

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Family outing to see Snow White and the Huntsman at Event-vmax and it looked and sounded superb up there on the big screen. While the film has a few elements that I think could have been better, it is filled with great uplifting moments fuelled by superb effects and a lushly watchable cast.

First up we have a classic fairy tale which draws on this for the basic script and to bring us a world of evil magics, natural spririts and honest purity of love. The cast is superb, they all bring the exaggerated nature of their roles to the screen and I think that is what works here for a fairy-tale telling. In much the same way that the comic characters need to be big and bold, here we have the same but with the twists and flaws either backgrounded or highly fore-grounded for us.

[Snow White and the Huntsman promo imagery via desktopexchange]

The production was wonderful, from the lighting and cinematography to the dramatic soundtrack. Seeing the armoured knights on horseback storming into battle was a standout for me along with the majesty of the enchanted forest sequences. There are shortcomings, I think Snow White would have come across better if the character grew or had to overcome something of herself as our primary protagonist. In this regard the Huntsman was superior and a more honest and relateable character (plus he has a cool set of axes).

The CG effects work on the film is one of the highlights with exceptional work in a host of areas and doubtless a whole set of places that we cant even tell. First up the dwarves are superb, with normal-sized actor performances dwarfised for us. All the magical effects from mirrors to crows and trolls to fairies and some lovely ageing and youthfulising of the evil Queen. The computer work in films like this allows the creators to take us deeper into a fantasy world, to bring to life the vile, the monstrous and the magical.

[Snow White and the Huntsman CG by The Mill via CGSociety article]

Articles like the one on CGSociety show how a range of CG houses brought these CG sequences to life. The Mill used Maya, Houdini and Softimage to create the guts of the transforming mirror. Check out the article for some nice Troll mocap and info on ncam.

The costumes, armour and basically everything worn by everyone was lovely to watch and so some special credit should go to Collen Atwood. Check out these articles of the work on MovieFanatic and Ecouterre for more details.

Lastly lets draw a little inspiration from the concept artists, looking at the credits there was a small army of them brought on to deliver the visual feast. As always I love how these artists manage to imply detail while executing so much depth of feeling. Here is some work by Annis Naeem and Sebastian Meyer.

[Snow White and the Huntsman Concept Art by Annis Naeem via their blog]

[Snow White and the Huntsman Concept Art by Sebastian Meyer via his blog]

All up I loved this little fairytale film despite it being a little shallow in places - perhaps a real treasure for home-spun trailers as it is a superb looking piece of cinema.