As I stated in one of my earlier post, planning is the key to avoiding pain, misery and expensive mistakes when beginning any motion capture project. I thought now might be a good time to write a few posts to try and explain the types of things you should be thinking about at the start of your project before you even begin capturing any data.
A move list is exactly what it sounds like, a list of moves you plan to capture for your project. It can begin as a simple text list and develop in to a complex spreadsheet containing detailed information about every aspect of an action.
It is worth investing as much time as possible at the beginning of a project to ensure the move list is as comprehensive as possible. Understanding exactly what you are going to capture will provide you with an idea of the scale of the project and what resources it will require, improve the quality of the captured data and reduce the time taken to edit it, avoid potential problems and costly mistakes and ultimately decide if motion capture is right for your project.
So where to begin…..
One of the best way to begin creating your move list is with a draft version. Use this as a brainstorming session where everything you think of as you review your reference material gets added to your list. Don’t spend time editing or looking back over what you write, simply write it down
At this stage don’t worry about specific details, instead write a short descriptive title for each action, which character will be performing it and which scene, sequence or level it relates to. It is also worth noting any questions you have about the action so they can be addressed later. Keeping track of this information will help remind you how and where you intended to use the action, what details you still need to think about and identify actions that can be removed because the section they belong to is no longer required or has been changed.
Unless you know exactly what actions you require when you begin writing the draft list, it is a good idea to over estimate the actions you will require. Plan to use the largest number of characters performing the most complicated and varied actions possible. The more scary comprehensive you make the list now, the less chance you will have of underestimating the amount of actions, work and ultimately money the project will require.
To begin your list you are going to need to gather as much relevant reference material as you can from as many different sources as possible. Some of this may be provided as part of the brief and some you will need to gather yourself. When gathering your own reference, don’t limit yourself to just your imagination. Try to find as much reference of the same types of actions in similar situations as you can. The more research material you can find, the easier it will be to create a large variety of appropriate actions and still have alternatives in case your initial ideas aren’t approved.
Below I have listed some of the main types of reference you are likely to come across and how you can use them.
- Script/Design Document – These type of documents provide you with the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters for your project in a written format. Read through them and try to visualise how you think the scene will look, how many characters you think will be in the scene and what action they will need to perform.
- Storyboards – Storyboards provide a graphical representation of the script, usually with an indication of camera direction and dialogue. These will help give an idea of the number of characters in the shot but as these are only still images you will still need to need to try to visualise what each character will be doing.
- Animatics – At its simplest, an animatic is a series of still images edited together and displayed in sequence with a rough sound track and timing. These can contain approximations of the final camera moves, framing and shot duration, but like the storyboards you will still need to try and visualise what the characters will be doing in the shot.
- Previsualization – Theses are usually computer generated sequences used to visualise complex scenes in a movie before filming commences. They can provide some of the best reference as they should give a clear idea how the final shot will look, it’s duration, the number of characters required and possibly some approximation of the type of actions the will be required.
- Live action reference – This can include actual live action plates from the production you are working on or illustrative clips from the internet, movies or videos of rehearsal sessions. This reference is often the most representative of the final actions that will be required as it usually demonstrates the duration, framing and type of action as well as the number of characters that are going to be required.