Mocap is the hero. Without Mocap technique, running a 3D animation production studio has never been more this lean and mean. Different from the traditional approach of multiple teams that could hinder or even ruin the production efficiency by adding too much teams and rework into the process. In this post, let’s learn why we strongly recommend studios on adopting new 3D animation production technique – adopting Mocap – to ensure high quality for two very critical reasons: 1) a real time animation and 2) the reduced cost and efforts by maintaining lean and mean production team.

 

If you’re searching for Lean and Mean Production Design, Mocap and one talented performer could be everything a 3D animation production studio just like yours would ask for. Talented performer could be anyone! Let’s explore how agile yet lean and mean 3D animation production could do with mocap and talented performer.

 

A music video full of characters was performed by only one mocap artist

 

This music video, known as ‘777’, was made by animation production company Pomp&Clout. It was a stunning piece of art made as a representation of Heaven. There was a big crowd of abstract yet human-shape characters dancing with each others in this video.

 

Joji – 777 (Music Video)

 

What’s incredible is that all those characters were made by motion capture of a single performer. The performer who carried out the mocap remotely during Covid 19 quarantine. Impossible! How it was done indeed?

 

Joji – 777 Apple Music Exclusive Video Behind The Scenes

 

 

Motion capture process

 

The earlier planning of animating for hundreds of characters all driven by motion capture had to change because of Covid 19 quarantine and social distancing request. This hard fact meant that the production and performance team would never be able to rehearse or shoot as usual. They quickly decided to get rid of many performers. The production team had no option but to proceed with only one performer.

traditional-vs-real-time-workflows - Unreal Engine - Vietnam Asian best 3D real time virtual production animation studio

It’s unusual to producing animation remotely with only one motion capture performer. The mocap process was executed during ‘lockdown’. The mocap process, thus, required very careful planning of specific movement and timings for each character within the scenes. Without rehearse in person and shooting everything socially distanced.

 

Unreal Engine during the mocap

 

So the question was actually – how to make the film? Hundreds of moving characters were required to feel human and aware of each other. Is it possible with only one motion capture performer? Of course it can’t be done without the use of Unreal Engine during motion capture. With the aid of Unreal Engine and some other real-time tools, somehow, the animation team could managed to bring these different mocap performances together.

 

Technically, in a typical motion capture pipeline, it’s impossible to assemble the different characters’ actions in a scene without the availability of rendering data of individual motion capture shoots for each character. It means that traditional animation production takes lots of time if a scenes has lot of characters and their animation. And with only one performer available, this meant the characters could never be able to interact with each other.

traditional-vs-real-time - Unreal Engine - Vietnam Asian best 3D real time virtual production animation studio

However, using Unreal Engine as real time animation production, that dilemma could be solved easily. The only performer could act out the movements of one character. And this first act could be immediately visualized in 3D scene. Right there, she could act and dance the next character as if the two interact with each other in real time. That’s the reason why it’s look so natural the act of those characters in the video of ‘777’. As if there was many performers acting at the same time.

 

This is one of the biggest advantages of Unreal Engine as real-time motion capture to animation production.

 

With Mocap even the directors can put on the mocap suit and act out themselves

 

What if an actor can’t keep the character as alive as the director instructions? Could it be that the director be the actor to perform for that scene so that the team and the designed actor could refer to? Usually, it’s actors who wear motion capture suits to perform for CG movies or animation series. But it’s not always like that. Sometimes the director could suit up and act out. In such cases, actors are only facially captured for voice over purposes, while the director jumps in themselves to be motion captured for character’s body movement. What’s a genius idea, right?!!

mocap artist_animation series project - Unreal Engine - Vietnam Asian best 3D real time virtual production animation studio

For example, at the time of producing animated scenes for ‘Hulk’, Ang Lee – the director – was suggested to cast some actions so the team could refer to. Since the exact image of Hulk only existed in the director’s mind. And the director himself was willing to put on a motion capture suit and act it out. The result was abnormal – Hulk the CG character animation was exactly what the director expect it should be.

 

“Hulk” (2003) Visual Effects by ILM, “The Lowdown”

Conclusion

Mocap is the hero. There’s no doubt about that. What’s fascinating is that with some combination, 3D studios could go wild and develop video content that goes beyond imagination. It’s especially true when Mocap and Unreal Engine be used together.

Animost – Vietnam 3D Animation Studio

animost team - Unreal Engine - Vietnam Asian best 3D real time virtual production animation studio

year end party animost team - Unreal Engine - Vietnam Asian best 3D real time virtual production animation studio

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/