Mova Contour Moves “Motion Capture To Reality Capture”
"Contour is the first system we've seen that provides such high-resolution motion data in a practical production environment, and SOFTIMAGE|XSI and Face Robot are the ideal production tools for working with Contour," said Marc Stevens, vp/gm of Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc. "The high-quality motion data provided by Contour will allow Face Robot to produce facial animation with unprecedented realism. Together, our systems will enable a powerful new end-to-end facial animation pipeline for both film and game production."
Contours performance is enabled in part by a collaboration with graphics processing pioneer NVIDIA. "Generally, NVIDIA GPUs are used to accelerate the rendering and display of 3D scenes. However, in the Contour system, NVIDIA GPUs are being used for the first time to accelerate the capture of 3D scenes, bringing details of the real world into the digital realm with unprecedented fidelity," said Jeff Brown, gm of professional products at NVIDIA.
Through a collaboration between Mova and VICON, Contours markerless capture system was designed to be used simultaneously with the VICON MX-series marker-based capture system. This makes it possible for Contours cameras to capture high-resolution surface motion, such as facial, skin and cloth motion, while VICONs MX40 cameras capture high-precision marker motion, such as skeletal and prop motion.
"Mova and Steve Perlman, who also runs Movas parent company Rearden Llc., have a long history of innovation in entertainment technology, and the development of Contour is no exception," said Brian Nilles, ceo, VICON US. "The innovation by the team at Mova is quickly coalescing into the most profound improvement in CG facial animation since our own MX40 camera. For CG animation that requires both the performer and CG character to be the same, the Mova Contour system should provide a clear and significant step toward the holy grail of a photorealistic final product. We are proud to be both collaborator, and integrator for Movas work with the VICON system."
Contour is compatible with popular animation software and hardware systems, including SOFTIMAGE|XSI, SOFTIMAGE|Face Robot, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk 3ds Max, all Vicon software and the VICON MX family of motion capture hardware. Contour data can also be exported as OBJ, C3D or Autodesk Point Cache 2 files and synchronizes with SMPTE time-codes.
Mova will offer Contour Reality Capture Services in the 4th quarter of 2006 throughout the world.
"Vocal performances have long been embraced by animation," Perlman says. "What were doing is making it possible for physical performances to be genuine enough to be embraced in the same way. In the parlance of computer graphics, the Uncanny Valley is a perceptual zone where a computer-generated faces approach photorealism just enough to be eerie. Contour is the first technology to successfully cross the Uncanny Valley and open the door to a whole new realm of creative opportunities".
San Francisco-based Mova was founded in 2004 by Rearden Companies to provide 3-D motion capture services using their VICON MX-40 marker-based system, and has worked on such projects as the Electronic Arts titles THE GODFATHER and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and Universal Vivendis ERAGON. Movas sister company, Ice Blink Studios, which Perlman co-founded with Doug Chiang (production designer, THE POLAR EXPRESS), also is closely tied to mocap production, having provided visual effects and art direction for Sony Pictures motion capture animated feature, MONSTER HOUSE and complete art and production design for Warner Bros. upcoming mocap feature BEOWULF.