The Motion Capture Actor

There is a bit of a revolution going on in media production. It’s been going on for years, and accelerating logarithmically. The things I am doing on my PC today with affordable software needed to be done on university mainframes with software that cost a fortune when I was in college in the 70s.

A good example is motion capture, an area that PMT has just recently begun offering as a service. The expansion of computational photography made it possible for a software application to perform spatial analysis of numerous cameras to determine where each of the cameras is located in 3 dimensional space. Knowing this, it can then map the movements of an actor performing in that space onto a biped skeleton which can then be exported to programs such as MotionBuilder or Maya to be mapped onto a digital biped character and placed in a virtual world of the animator’s creation. The technical aspects of this fascinate me.

But there is another aspect that is equally fascinating: The role of the motion capture performer. The performer is performing in a warehouse or stage, there are no costumes or props, yet they put themselves in the mindset of the end product of the performance: a silverback gorilla pounding his chest in the rainforest, an NFL wide receiver doing a victory dance in the end zone of the NFL super bowl, Psy doing the Gangnam Style dance in the trendy Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea.

This is a great sport for the imaginative mind of the motion capture actor.

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