FVEA 419/619: Motion Capture for Artists 2020

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“Progress is not possible without deviation” –Frank Zappa

Evolving Class Schedule for 2020:

January 27
First class meeting.  Mocap expert John Brennan will introduce himself as the interim faculty member conducting this edition of the course while Michael Scroggins is on Creative Leave.  John has served as a consultant and visiting artist at CalArts since our initial foray into marker based motion capture at CalArts This will be our second year using the newly acquired  OptiTrack passive marker mocap system which is installed in E58.   John may opt to screen the brilliantly cynical warning about the type of mocap abuse we created many years ago, followed by a look at several mocap based works created by students in previous years classes.  Most of those following videos include scenes created via our old  PhaseSpace active marker mocap system.

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The California Institute of Motion Capture, CalArts Producers Show Intro 2007
We can do this the easy way or the hard way –or not do it at all.
Let’s push the boundaries of irony and do the dance of the mushroom cloud anyway!

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Ke Jiang made Taxi while he was a student at CalArts.  He used The PhaseSpace mocap system to create a quirky performance by taking advantage of the artifacts that occur at the edge of the capture volume:

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Visiting Artist Max Hattler conducted a workshop during the Program in Experimental Animation interim sessions in 2011.  The goal was to produce one or more short works using abstracted motion capture.  Forms I (Taekwondo) is one of those works:

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Shimbe used the PhaseSpace motion capture system in a unique way for the making of this film. He rigged a Bunraku puppet with active markers and directed Danielle Ash as the puppeteer. The natural floppiness of the puppet provided an extraordinary quality to the targeted motion. You can see some still photos of the process in my photo album of the initial PhaseSpace tests at CalArts.

“The Wonder Hospital, a 3D & puppet animated film, is a surreal journey of oddity and empty illusion. In a mysterious hospital, modification of physical beauty is not what you would expect. A girl’s desire for superficial beauty leads her to chase after the luring ‘After’ images on a path of advertisements throughout the hospital. But in the end she finds something unimaginable and irreversible.”

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A Maya playblast from 18 March 2010 of Sara Pocock‘s little girl character animated via a simple mocap T-pose test. The T-pose test was performed in class by Justin Leon in order to double check that we had setup the MotionBuilder marker mapping process correctly before moving on to a directed capture session. We came close to doing a brief capture session but ran out of time and had to postpone the session until the upcoming class. The realtime data from the T-pose test is all that we used in this test. No clean-up, filtering, retargeting, or other adjustments were done. Justin’s simple casual movements gave the character an unintended sense of presence. In subsequent class meetings Justin and Sara worked on directed performance tests in order to gain more experience with that form of mocap –even though Sara’s goal was to keyframe all of the animation in the final film.

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For her MFA thesis project, A Scenic View of the End of the WorldIvy Flores chose to collaborate with choreographer Daniel Charon and composer Alex Wand in an iterative process wherein each participant would base what they were doing on the work the others had done in an earlier version.  This enfolding process modified the work with each iteration until Ivy reached the form she found most interesting.  The motion capture of the dancers was recorded with the PhaseSpace Impulse system mounted in the computer animation lab located in room F105 and processed to extract essential movement.  The final installation was presented in the Black and White Studio Gallery A404 from April 4-5, 2013.

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Ivy Flores’ documentation of the process of creating  “A Scenic View of the End of the World”.

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Prior to her work with the PhaseSpace Impulse motion capture system, Ivy created this performance animation piece using two orthogonally placed video cameras and Adobe After Effects motion tracking.

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In 2013 substituting faculty member John Brennan demonstrated a way to perform multiple characters live with the PhaseSpace motion capture system and Autodesk MotionBuilder which inspired class member Rachel Ho to collaborate with Julian Petschek, and Rob Gordon in the rapid workshopping and creation of the live motion capture performance, Mo Cap Mo Problems, staged in the Black and White Studio Gallery A404 as part of the Motion Capture for Artists course exhibition in the Spring of 2013.

Mo Cap Mo Problems is a 15 minute performance and video installation that employs live motion-capture in the engagement of virtual characters and spaces. The performance deals with issues of identity and technology in the service of pop culture, as explored through role-playing and the form of music gigs/concerts.”

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Following upon the critical success of Mo Cap Mo Problems, Rachel Ho developed SLEIGHTING. This video features footage from 5 shows performed on April 3rd, 2014 in the CalArts B&W Studio A404 and was constructed to promote performances as part of the LAX 2014 Festival on September 20th, 2014, at the Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles.

SLEIGHTING is an unprecedented approach to multimedia performance using real-time motion capture and pre-visualization tools to enable a new breed of performer. It is about showmanship, hype and the future of entertainment.

Through the ability to pilot avatars before a live audience, SLEIGHTING creates a new type of superstar who is no longer confined to being one personality, but is able to be anyone and everyone. Like the superstar DJ or sportsman who commands arenas full of fans, SLEIGHTING presents itself as a future art and sport, and an event that people descend upon to witness and partake in. In this case, the arena is now the site of reinvention for the event film, and the director is now conductor and performer, empowered through technological extensions of the self.

The show has a running time of around 20 minutes and mainly consists of three sketches in which the spectacle of interfacing with virtual realities drives both narrative and design. Real-time motion capture and pre-visualization tools, typically used in the film and gaming industries, are now used to DJ virtual camera moves and special effects for this live event.”

“Penelope the penalized elephant has found himself in prison. Little does he know the true, sinister purpose of the prison.”

OCTOFORNIA is an experimental project created by Gordon Straub and Cole Mercier in their first year at CalArts.  They boldly decided to challenge themselves to make a film using 3D and Mocap computer software that they had not previously used –and were just in the initial process of learning.  They adapted their project ideas to incorporate and reveal  fundamental aspects and “flaws” of the technologies they were working with as a method of enhancing the unsettling aspects of their dystopian story.

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Jorge Ravelo has experimented with using the Kinect v2 and Jasper Brekelman’s Brekel Pro Body v2 in the creation of both real-time performance and recorded work. In this film, Skip Jumbo, he worked with rapid montage layering of mocap video recordings from MotionBuilder with live action 16mm film shot with a Bolex camera.

“Skip smiles // Skip jumps // Skip eats cereal // Skip looks at the sky and the news all at once.”

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Narae Kim, Celine Tien, and Julian Soros of the Pippa’s Pan team at the AT&T Developer’s Summit where they were declared third place winners of the AT&T VR/AR Challenge.

Pippa’s Pan   is a reactive VR short film that takes you, our Agent, through the forest of Pippa’s mind to help re-capture fragments of her forgotten memories. Experimenting with techniques in animation, world building, motion-capture, 3D spatial audio, and even light field technology, Pippa’s Pan is set to be one of virtual reality’s first hybrid live-action short films. A literal forest woven from the sinews of this team’s ideas and youthful naiveté, the group of young dreamers will deconstruct concepts of storytelling to re-invent the relationship between audience and narrative.

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February 3
Second class meeting.  TBD

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February 10
Third class meeting.  TBD

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February 17
Presidents Day

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February 24
Fourth class meeting.  TBD

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March 2
Fifth class meeting. TBD

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March 9
Sixth class meeting. TBD

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March 16
Seventh class meeting.  TBD

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March 23
Eighth class meeting. TBD

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March 30
Spring Break

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April 6
Ninth class meeting. TBD

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April 13
Tenth class meeting. TBD

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April 20
Eleventh class meeting. TBD

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April 27
Twelfth class meeting. TBD

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May 6
Thirteenth and final class meeting.  TBD

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May 13
The School of Film/Video Bijou Festival.

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