The idea behind this site is to show you how to use MotionBuilder to transform sensor data into the actions and emotions of a character.
When people are watching a character on screen, they’re not interested in the technology: the size of the capture volume, the resolution of cameras, the number of markers, the accuracy of the data, the amount of facial blend shapes. All they really care about is, can they identify with the character and understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
To be a skilled motion editor you need to help an audience forget the technology and connect with your character. You must translate the performance of an actor in a mocap volume into the thoughts and gestures of a character. Yes, the animation needs to be good, have squash and stretch, anticipation, overlap, appeal, etc. But if there isn’t a reason behind it, an emotion or objective, then it’s just nice motion on a moving object.
I’m Simon Kay the Motion Capture Supervisor at double Oscar winning Visual Effects Company, Double Negative.
I began my career in 1995 studying 2D classical animation at Ballyfermot Senior College, Dublin. Unfortunately the course finished in 1999 just as the industry went into decline. So , like many traditional animators at that time I switched to 3D computer animation, working at Acclaim Entertainment.
My first encounter with motion capture came working on a PlayStation 2 game based on the tv show, Alias. To take full advantage of the new hardware, the decision was taken to use mocap for all the in-game and cut-scene animations. As the lead animator on the project this meant immersing myself in the technology: understanding the hardware and software and then building a pipeline around it.
After 5 years in the video game industry I went from mocap consumer to mocap provider, working as a Project Manager at Centroid Motion Capture. Building on my video games experience, I worked on a variety of Television, Video Game and Visual Effects projects. The range of projects allowed me to work in a variety of roles from data clean-up and motion editor, to mocap supervisor and director.
Following a brief return to video games at Sony London (SCEE), I joined Double Negative as the Mocap Supervisor in 2008. My role in the company is to supervise everything connected to motion capture:
- Planning and capturing mocap data in the studio, on-set and with external vendors.
- Processing and integrating that data into the character animation pipeline.
- And building the tools and pipeline to do this.
I’ve been involved with almost every project that has involved a CG character: Star Trek:Beyond, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, Avengers: Age of Ultron, John Carter, Iron Man 2, Paul.
My experience over the years has given me a unique insight into nearly every facet of motion capture: from an artistic and technical perspective, and as a client and service provider.
And it’s this knowledge I want to share through my website and in the talks I give at universities and motion capture conferences across the country.