NEWS

Motion capture takes off

New motion capture class is a hit among animation students.

New motion capture class is a hit among animation students. Since the advent of cartoons, creative types have been looking for methods to make the figures more lifelike. Stop-action gave figures more dimension and recent advances in animation techniques have created more life-like movements. Animation has grown into an in-demand industry with figures being used in film, advertisements, and video games.

The latest technology being taught at Bloomfield College is motion capture in which sensors are placed on the human body and tracked through a computer program which can then be manipulated and moved into a 3-D program for final touches. The blockbuster movie Avatar, was one such use of this technology.

Bloomfield College now has a motion capture studio, the first of its kind in a north eastern college, to give Creative Arts & Technology students one more skill to add to their educational resumes.

MoCap, as it is known in the industry, is not just for the entertainment field. This technology is widely used by medical researchers to study gait and facial analysis essential in rehabilitation and in working with autistic children, the elderly, and the handicapped. MoCap takes a vital role in studying ergodynamics in order to develop safer workplaces. Within the military, MoCap is integrated into systems for virtual training.

In the entertainment industry, MoCap is used to produce high-end animation and is a successful tool to pre-visualize scenes in movies. Incorporating motion capture allows a director to fine tune a scene before, during, and after shooting it, making the entire process more efficient and less costly.

In the video gaming world, MoCap has become the creative and production gold standard. Game designers and developers recognize that the more lifelike the game, the more desirable it is on the market. Using MoCap to develop the most human-like movement allows the players to fully immerse themselves in the virtual world while playing the game.

Inside the Bloomfield College studio, the MoCap system captures a performer’s movements and data is then tracked in 3-D, using the software tool Cortex, transferred to MotionBuilder and applied to a virtual character. Bloomfield College uses a leading digital, optical motion capture system from Motion Analysis Corporation. The College owns Maya, 3-D Studio Max, and SoftImage XSi which are other 3-D animation software packages that can utilize MoCap data.

Careers in MoCap

While someone with motion capture skills could find a career in the gaming industry, careers are emerging in the entertainment industry. Motion capture operators, technicians and animators now participate in all of the facets of the production process in films, TV and the internet.  Some newer trends like blending 3-D effects using motion capture is the newest innovation and widely used in the film industry.

Social and medical sciences are seeking people with motion capture skills to measure biomechanics, behaviors, and facial expressions. The sports analysis field is hiring people with motion capture skills to improve the athletes’ performance and help prevent injuries. These skills, coupled with education in the gaming industry, film making, video editing, biomechanics, sociology, and research, will make a graduate of Bloomfield College that much more marketable.