Viral ad’s x-ray skeleton effects brought to life with wireless motion capture system.
The Netherlands -- With 85 million views and counting, "Love Has No Labels" is a bonafide hit. While its message of unbiased love helped make this video go viral, the technical effects were just as potent. Pairing people with Xsens mocap sensors, experiential design firm Mindride was able to take their 3D skeletons out for a live event. No strings, no wires, no problem.
Love Has No Labels is a program created by The Ad Council to point out subconscious biases people have regarding race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, and disabilities. Filmed live on the street, the viral PSA depicts an LED screen where skeletons hug, kiss and dance before revealing themselves as people to the audience. Variations include same sex, elderly and interracial couples, provoking the audience to consider that maybe we are all the same underneath it all.
To create the “Love Has No Labels” X-Ray machine, Mindride developed an entirely new pipeline that leveraged motion capture techniques typically reserved for Hollywood movies and video games. By employing Xsens MVN, a wearable motion capture system, the team could stream the actor’s movements in real-time as live mocap data. That data was then fed into a rendering computer that animated the 3D skeletons.
Helping the characters interact with each other and believably look like they were in the same space was a key priority. To facilitate this, a midi controller was used to control and reposition characters during the performance. This proved useful for situations that involved hugging or hand holding.
“Once we had the data mapped to the skeletons, we became puppeteers, augmenting the gestural nuances of the performers’ hands and jaws,” said Yehuda Duenyas, Chief Creative Officer at Mindride. “The result was a totally live, real-time, magical, X-Ray experience that highlighted the nuance and individuality of each performer.”
Preparations for the project began months in advance, with the team testing the Xsens sensors for live applications. Deciding on 17 sensors, placed over key areas like body joints, arms, legs and the actor’s neck, Mindride found a mix that could give them the motion capture data they needed to make those skeletons pass the people test.
“Ultimately we were trying to figure out how to make the skeletons move in the most human way possible,” added Duenyas. “After rigging the avatars in Maya, and lining them up with MVN data, it quickly became clear that we had the quality we needed.”
Another draw was MVN’s lightweight design and wireless capabilities. “The trackers really aren’t that big; you can hide them under your clothes,” said Michael Todd, Technical Lead at Mindride. “They are easy to take off and put on; don’t require any extensive set-up that has to be fine-tuned and calibrated. The system is just really easy to use.”
With mobility becoming more important to motion capture projects, Xsens’ patented design lies at the forefront of the field.
“MVN opens up a lot of potential for live applications. What we are really doing is digitally translating human behavior and human action. And if we can deliver that in a live capacity, that’s really exciting,” said Duenyas.
The “Love Has No Labels” video was produced by Persuade Content and created in collaboration with R/GA.