The CG music video of ‘Don’t Touch Me’ was made by Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak. It was the performance of Dozo singer whose motion captured digitally. The CG character’s music video was so vivid that the trend of using mocap started hot ever since. Yes! Dozo, the first animated singer, had her successful debut of the above mentioned music video in 1989. Many acknowledged that debut as one of the earliest performance made using ‘passive’ optical motion capture.

Now mocap has been so popular in 3D animation production industry. Some people even think of using live motion capture for remote meeting in time of Covid 19. The intention was to make the meeting less dull and more interactive.

 

Nestor – the earliest trial of mocap technique

First, let’s go back to the 1980s. This was the time when the original idea of making animation video with the aid of newly-invented motion capture technique begun. We could learn about its history and the reason why mocap is so widely accepted in the animation producing industry.

This short film was named as ‘Nestor Sextone for President’.

Nestor Sextone

How it was made when there was no precedent or software or know how of making such video?

Well, this was how the original idea begun. Started from the ideas of creating animated series of a superman-model character using 3D animation. Once the powerful looking sculpture of this character finished, the dilemma of figuring out how to animate it started looming. Because there was no software that help to bend polygonal surfaces available at the time. It was eventually decided that interpenetrating could be the answer for the dilemma of animating this character. Specifically, this character was built with interpenetrating body parts. Say, the upper arm would interpenetrate with the shoulder. And the upper arm would interpenetrate with the lower arm, etc. It turned out that the character could be animated okay. With new technology applied, ultimately this became the first time animation character could be produced from the very first idea of motion capture.

The public debut made mocap a breakthrough for animation production

When Molly Connolly, who worked at Hewlett Packard, saw ‘Nestor Sextone’ for the first time, she thought that thing was a real breakthrough. With her senior role in Hewlett Packard, she decided to gave the guys who made the video an invaluable chance of working with real powerful equipment and workstations. She asked these guys to produce another film and put Hewlett Packard in the credits. The guys grabbed at this opportunity. And ‘Don’t Touch Me’ and the digital singer was ‘Dozo’ was born as a result.

 

It was from the idea of making a music video, capturing the motion of a female singer, and create the female body and apply the motion capture to the female body and also videotape our singer in closeup. Visualizing a series of faces deformed and trying to express how the singer try to sing along in sync with the music.

 

At the debut show of the digital character, the team got really loud applause and people were bowled over their work in ‘Don’t Touch Me’, because they hadn’t really seen characters talking or singing with that level of fluent movement. The animation video got real good criticisms and drew enormous attention.

 

Don’t Touch Me (1989)

Some reveal of the mocap setup for ‘Don’t Touch Me’: eight IR cameras in a circle looking down at the performer from 10 feet high. Tracking markers on performer’s limbs. A stick with a tracking point at performer’s thumb and baby finger, just to capture the movement of her hand. Four around the hips. Then shoulders, elbows, hands, top of the head, and a few on ponytail. The same stick and tracking point applied for performer’s heel, knee, feet, toe.

A live mocap of animated character for remote meeting

Right now, we all seem to be doing a lot of video conference calls or watching online webinars while working from home.

ASIFA-SOUTH, the Atlanta-based animation group, has recently started to create live motion captured 2D characters of the speakers on video chats and broadcasts.

Meeting or broadcasting online in the time of COVID-19 pandemic easily get bored to participants or the audience due to lack of interaction and fun. By offering a real sense of presence for those attending the live sessions, the group believed that interaction could be improved. This is especially true when there’s a need for an open discussion. Cause some people in such discussions might not want their face on there. Thus, it’s a good idea to create some avatars. And let people talk while pose some iconic appearance to build some kind of vibe or atmosphere into the discussion. The group also believed that animated mascots could make any news or broadcasts sounds more engaging with live animation. It would be easier to send out a message if some one intend to tell stories with these characters.

ASIFA Brings Animated Mascot into Livestreams with Cartoon Animator

Conclusion

There are many ways mocap can be applied in else where in the globe. Above stories just contributed to prove that mocap has become so popular to the making of 3D animation. It, thus, has now become the new normal way of making animation videos and films. Either for either every day communication purpose or blockbuster big screen movies purposes.

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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/