Feb 18, 2009

Posed Based Animation With a Camera

So we have been thinking alot about how to get good performance animation faster and I think that being able to convey your ideas quickly into the computer is key.  Many people think that the most time consuming part of animation is transference of the idea or pose in your head to the character in the computer.

I have been trying to think of ways to keep the essence of pose to pose animation alive while vastly improving the input methods of poses.  

Here is my idea, it is somewhat similar to motion capture but not quite.  Perhaps I am thinking too much in the realm of what we work with but I feel if it works in our realm quickly, not much development will need to be done.

My idea is to setup a video camera in a very similar to the camera in the shot.  Keeping in mind where the character is in virtual space and translating that to our world.  The closer to the shot in the computer the better.  The animator will be wearing a suit that looks very similar to the curves around our rig now and in the same placement as the rig we are using.  These rings will be a very distinct color and will correspond to the nodes on our character in the computer.  No fancy mo cap stations will be needed though, it will all be based on the placement and distance of the rings from the camera.  

So the idea is this:  The animator in the suit gets in front of the camera and acts out the pose he wants as the first frame.  This frame will setup a reference to go by for the rest of the shot.  Then they shall act out the poses in the scene with the camera taking pictures or video every so often to record the poses.  

Now here is the tricky part.   Movement that is on the same plane as the camera lens will be easily recorded.  It is obvious if the hand moves up and down if shot from the front.  What you may be wondering is how it will record movement towards and away from the camera.  Well if the camera takes a reference image the first shot, all the controls on the body will be a certain size.  My idea to record the movement towards and away from the camera is based on how much bigger or smaller those controls get compared to reference.  If the controls become smaller we know its moving away from the camera and if the control becomes bigger it is moving towards the camera.

This idea sprung upon with the notion that we only need to make something look good from the view it is being seen.  This lets us only where about animating to our camera.  

Some concerns are:
  1. I am not sure if this would handle camera movements, I feel like it could in some way but it may require an easily moveable video camera.
  2. I am not sure the changing of the size of controls can translate to distance, I feel like it should but I am not sure of the math behind it all.  
  3. This may be trying to stay to close within the realm of what we have now.  The reason I though of this is because not everyone can get a mocap recording studio but I feel like most people can get a digital video camara today.  I wanted to keep it within the realm of something possible on a smal scale and large scale.

If a single camera does not work perhaps a 2 camera system to record distance as well may be possible.

I also like the idea of recording poses.  I feel a big strength of pose to pose animation is the ability to easily delete/change poses.  If you have a feel poses that are not work you can simply remake them with little to no trouble.  

You may also simply needed a digital camera to do this entire process if it works the way I envision.

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