By Ko Maruyama
LOS ANGELES, CA April 4, 2014 – In late March, Digital Media Artists of Los Angeles (DMALA) hosted their monthly user group meeting, which focused solely on the iPi Soft and its markerless motion capture software solution iPi Motion Capture and its use in film, television and personal projects. Moderated by myself, the panel featured professional animators David (D-Lew) Lewandowski, Don L. McCoy, Anthony Hoit, and LA Siggraph’s Mike Amron. Each spoke to the audience about how the adoption of iPi Motion Capture has changed the way they approached animation and production.
If there was one overarching theme to event it was how the landscape of motion graphics and motion design has changed quickly in the past few years thanks to a combination of accessible software and hardware that has allowed digital media artists to create new and innovative animations.
That combination includes the availability of affordable markerless motion capture that has changed the way smaller studios, individuals and students consider their approach to character animation. Specifically, iPi Soft software — in concert with over-the-counter video cameras — is letting digital artists from many disciplines incorporate motion capture into their creative pipeline.
Hoit, Lewandowski and McCoy each noted that they were encouraged by the ease and ready supply of support hardware. Motion capture requires cameras, and although iPi Motion Capture can work with several types of cameras, the panel found success using a simple Microsoft Kinect camera setup.
Case in point was Hoit’s work on the new Night of the Living Dead: 3D Origins – a completely 3D animated reboot of the horror classic set for release later this year — that used iPi Motion Capture with just 1 Kinect camera (it supports up to 3) on all of the film’s middle and background action. Hoit also offered attendees a preview of some select scenes in the film.
Following the Q&A, attendees were able to sample iPi Motion Capture’s ease of use first-hand thanks to three separate demo mocap workstations. The casual setting with professional users was the perfect way for attendees to see how easy it was to setup and capture data. The user group setting was a perfect place to showcase the ease of use and the calculation workflow.
For Ron Magrid, noted technology writer who attended the event, said that the event was different than he expected, which was more of a manufacturer driven show and tell.
“Instead, it was an insightful presentation from people who worked with motion capture for a living and used it to create some impressive effects,” Magrid said. “I loved the stories and the know-how they offered, and how freely they shared it. My guest and I, up and coming filmmaker Richard Gale, were stunned at how relatively easy to use and inexpensive iPi Motion Capture is.”
Given the interest in markerless motion capture I’ve seen among creative professionals and students in my classroom at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, coupled with the advancements iPi Soft has made to iPi Motion Capture, it’s clear that markerless motion capture will grow as a creative force to be reckoned with among filmmakers, videogame developers and animators for years to come.