Planning is the key to any successful motion capture shoot. It really is the perfect example of “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
So, to help you successfully plan your next mocap shoot, we’re going to start by looking at how to write a motion capture move list.
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What is a Motion Capture Move List?
A move list is exactly what it sounds like, a complete list of moves you plan to capture for your project.
It can start as a simple list on a piece of paper and grow in to a detailed spreadsheet containing everything you need to know about all the actions you plan to capture.
Make Time to Plan
It is worth spending as much time as possible making the move list as detailed as you can. .
The more you know about what you want to capture, the easier it will be to explain, perform, capture, edit and budget, becasue the first things everyone wants to know is…
- How much data will we need to capture?
- How many performers will we need?
- How much space will we need?
- What equipment will we need?
- How many days will it take to capture?
- How many days will it take to process
- Is mocap really right for the project?
- and most importantly, how much will the motion capture cost?
So where to begin…..
Get Reference…LOTS OF REFERENCE!
To help write your move list you need to gather as much reference material as possible.
Don’t limit yourself to just your imagination. Try to find as much reference of the same types of actions in similar situations from as many different sources as possible. Look at things like…
- Scripts/Design Documents – These types 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 be performing.
- 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 (CG) sequences used to visualise complex scenes before filming starts. 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, and possibly some approximation of the type of actions they will be doing.
- Live-Action Reference – This could be on-set or rehearsal video from the film you are working on or clips from the internet or films showing similar types of actions. This reference is usually the most representative of the final actions you will need to capture, clearly showing the duration, framing, type of action and number of characters required.
The more reference material you can find, the easier it will be to create a long list of beliveble actions to suit your project…plus, a back-up list of alternatives in case your first ideas don’t work!
Once you’ve gathered your reference, it’s time to start writing your list.
Begin by writing down everything you think of as you review your reference material. Don’t spend time editing or looking back over what you’ve written. The goal here is to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.
Don’t worry about specific details at this stage. Just include a quick note about the following:
- WHO – which character it belongs to,
- WHAT – a short description of the action,
- WHERE – which scene/sequence/shot/level/ it appears in,
- HOW – any details you need to know.
- Jumps on table
- SC_020_001 / in-game
- Table height?
Keeping track of this information now will help you remember how and where you planned to use the action and if there are any details you need to find out before the shoot. It will also help identify if an action can be crossed off the list because the sequence/scene/shot/level/cut-scene has been removed.
Unless you know the exact details of every action you plan to capture, it is a good idea to over estimate the actions you will need.
Plan to capture 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, resources, work and ultimately money you will need.
Once your first draft is finished, you should have a good idea of the size of your project you’re about to take on, the amount of work (and money) it will need. And ultimately, if motion capture is right for your project.
…and if it is, then in the next post we’ll look at some of the details you’ll need to include for each action, to make your move list even more