ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.11 - FEBRUARY 2000

Vicon Motion Systems' Brian Nilles: Motion-Capture Moves Forward
(continued from page 1)

The Vicon 8 system in action. © Vicon Motion Systems.

Earlier optical systems were limited to only a few minutes per capture. The Vicon 8 system can capture for up to 24 hours. That seems like a lot. It's a really big way of saying that we can capture for any duration and as long as we have enough storage waiting on the other end, we can just siphon it off as quickly as possible. We have several customers who are doing long facial captures and...the requirement doesn't seem to be as prevalent for full-body stuff, as it does for facial. But we did some tests for several movies where they wanted to let some high-paid talent kind of run off at the mouth for several hours. The idea is not having your motion-capture equipment slow you down.

And we have some other cool things like SMPTE timecode support and a genlock facility, so that we can integrate with other studio equipment. With integrated movie capture we can get a color video reference of the shoot and also record that in MPEG format. We can burn a frame count on it and timecode and niceties like that. That just makes it much easier for people to deal with the data after the shoot.

Probably the most important [difference from two years ago] is real-time. We launched that at SIGGRAPH this past year. We can now produce character animation from the Vicon 8 hardware platform in real-time. That's significant because traditionally, magnetic technology was the only one that could do that.

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles is one of the many television and film productions using motion-capture technology. Courtesy of Sony Family Entertainment and Vicon Motion Systems. © 1999 Adelaide Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SS: What are some of the recent projects Vicon has done using these newer innovations?

BN: Our customer, Industrial Light & Magic has a 20-camera Vicon 8 system. They worked on Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and The Mummy. They've also done some recent commercial work. I don't know if you've seen the new Rhythms DSL commercial. Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles by Foundation Imaging. Other TV work would be work done by Computed Animation Technology (CAT). That's a company in Dallas that produced a Fox Halloween special called Night of the Headless Horseman. They actually collaborated with LocoMotion Studios to do some horse capture in a Medieval Times [dinner theater] arena, so they combined their Vicon 8's to produce an 18-camera system.

Other projects include a bunch of music videos from Digital Domain and House of Moves, like Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson's What's It Gonna Be? A brand new one by Will Smith called Willennium by Industrial Light & Magic. Backstreet Boys' Larger Than Life by Centropolis, Metrolight and House of Moves.

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