Now you have a full and extensive list of actions you want to capture, it’s time to assemble them in to some sort of order. One of the best ways to do this, if you haven’t already been doing so, is to enter them in to a spreadsheet.
Begin simply by creating a column containing all the actions you want to capture; then add additional columns for each piece of information you want to associate with it. The spreadsheet can be as simple or as complex as you want as long as all the information is displayed clearly to anyone viewing it.
The following are some of the details you may find useful to include in
Project Name – This may seem obvious, but if the sheet gets printed out or saved in the wrong location, it will be obvious which project it refers to. It may also be useful to include a version number so people can be sure they are looking at the correct sheet.
Date – This could be the date of the sheet’s creation, the date of the last update, or the date the shoot will take place if it has already been confirmed.
Naming – This is possibly the most important part of the whole process. Typically you will be creating a large number of motion capture files which need to be easily identified from their file names (or “Nomenclature” to give it it’s fancy title). The names you create at this stage are likely to evolve as you refine your list, but you should aim to have them finalised before you capture your first file. The following is some of the information you might want to include in the file name:
Character Rig – If you are planning to use more than one character rig it is essential you can identify which rig the action is applied to from the file name. If there are proportional difference between your rigs it is not always possible to simply apply an action from one rig on to another without remapping it first.
Action Type/Description – Actions that have multiple uses, for instance in game or crowd engines, should use file names that describe what is happening in the action. A common way to do this is to use one or more separate words to describe the type or catagory of action and then add s short descriptions that explains exactly how the type of action is being performed.
Shot/Sequence/Level ID – Actions that are going to be captured for specifc shots, cut scenes or levels should reflect this in their file name. This can help identify actions where actions will be used and any difference in the way they need to be performed for that specific shot or level. If you plan to use the same file name for other data captured during the mocap session, it may also be necessary to add a “Mocap” identifier to the file name.
Prop – Including the name of the prop required for the action will help identify a prop is required and which one to use. Using the full name of the prop will makes it easier to understand but can create long file names. While using abbreviations can keep the names short but will need documenting.
Number of characters – Actions captured with multiple performers are often separated into individual performer files for processing. Including the number of characters required to perform the action in the file name will help identify how many characters should be involed in the actions when it is recombined.
Variation – Where possible, try to avoid using “v01”, “v02” etc in the name to create variations of an action. Instead, try to vary the description as much as possible so you understand exactly what the variation will be. This will make it clear to everyone exactly what you plan to capture and avoid the unnecessary pressure of trying to create variations on the shoot and potentially capture actions that won’t work.
Numeric ID – This can simply involve creating a sequencial column of numbers down the side of the list. Creating a numeric ID for the action can make it much easier to refer to in discussions rather than trying to say or find the collection of letters that represents the file name.
Move Description – Include a column containing a short description of the action, including any details of how it needs to be performed and any other relevant information. If you intend to capture lots of action this will provide an invaluable reminder whenever you revisit the list, either during meetings or during the actual mocap shoot.
Props – Any props required to perform the action should be recorded in the list. Props may require hiring or building for the shoot which may incure a cost. Also the processing of prop data can add to your shoot costs and processing time. Include dimensions and aproximate weights so accurate replicas can be made of hired.
Scenery – List any scenery object the performer will interact with. As with props, there will probably be a cost involved in building the scenery which will need considering. It may also highlight potential problems with the available space at the intended capture venue. Again, include all the dimentions for the scenery object.
Scene/Shot/Level – Recording which Scene, Shot or Level the actions will be used in can help clarify if it is necessary and how the action needs to be performed . This can also help differentiate actions that may have the same name.
Duration – This can be done by performing the action and timing it with a stop watch, using reference video or using the estimated or actual shot length the action will be used in. Including estimates for the duration of each action will help calculate the amount of data you may need to process and the possible costs involved. .
Number of Performers – This could be the number of performers required to perform the action or the number you want to capture for variation purposes. The number of performers required for your mocap shoot will also need including cost estimates.
Once the spreadsheet is complete, it is a good idea to review it with the rest of your team so everyone understands what you plan to capture and the work and costs that may be involved. During the review process any questions or concerns can be raised and most importantly, any unnecessary work and expensive surprises can hopefully be avoided.
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