March 26th 2013

For my performance I need a dancer. Someone who knows their body, who isn’t afraid to perform and who can bring their own experience and professionalism to my final major project. So I sent an email to The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, along with a pack relevant to finding a dancer. ( see link – Project Info)

I got an amazing response and lots of interest! It is nice to know that i have come up with an interesting and appealing concept to people out side my course. So having a look at a few show reels sent by dancers from the school, I have decided to go with a girl who seems to get the feel and mood of my piece and has also an interest in games and animation. This will make it easier to interpret what it is I want to achieve for this project if i have someone who is genuinely interested and understands what it is I want to achieve.

There is only one problem, I was hoping to capture and record the footage in the first week of April but it is the Easter holidays. Although I might not stop for the hols, the college and other students do, and I found the majority of dancers were away until the 15th 16th of April. So that was something I had over-looked, it will be pushing it, so I need to be properly prepared and organized to make sure I get the performance applied and rendered in time.

Out of all the interest I only got 3 show reels to review. I decided to go with Nina-Morgane Madelaine from the Northern School of contemporary dance. This was a decision based on her response to my project and her dance based on Video games.

I am really interested by animation and games creation so meeting and working with someone like you would be an excellent opportunity ! I really like the kind of creepy and scary side you wanna explore’.

– N. Morgane

Nina seemed to understand the project and get what I was trying to portray emotionally and conceptually, it only made sense to go with her.

17th April 2013

I had a meet up with Nina today just to introduce myself and have a chat about the project. I showed her my character that her dance would be applied to and went through the track with her and what kind of movements I was looking for. I asked her to wear something tight fitting so the motion capture software wouldn’t be picking up the movement of loose clothes. It also made sense as my character is essentially nude. I also asked if Nina new much about motion capture software and showed the demos on the IPI Soft web page. I explained the kind of restrictions the character had and that I would need her to be pretty much in the same spot for the dance.

18th April 2013

I borrowed a friend’s laptop and downloaded my free 30 day trial and made sure everything worked and how much I remembered from my test with Annabeth several weeks ago. The software is pretty self-explanatory and easy. The only difference this time is I would be using two kinnect cameras, not one.

This was because I was anticipating parts of the body moving from the view of the front camera. Her head for example, if Nina leans far backwards, which I expect she will, then the front camera will not be able to detect where in the space her head is. This is where the second camera, placed to the side, would see where her head is and record the data.

Because I had two cameras I needed to record a calibration scene. This was so the two cameras can later align the 2 sets of recorded data in IPI Studio for the data to be accurate. This was just a case of holding out a large 2D piece of card and slowly swinging it from one camera to the other for about 5 seconds. Then you upload it to IPI studio as a calibration scene, to ‘calibrate’ the 2 sets of data.

I recorded the dance in sections, a couple takes of the first section of the dance, the more erratic section and a couple takes of the second section of the more fluid section. This gave Nina a brake in between and made it easier to deal with the captured data.

I also made sure Nina did a T-pose at the start of every recording to fit the data onto the skin in IPI Studio.

19th April 2013

Into IPI studio. Uploaded the calibration scene and calibrated, then uploaded the action scene. Again the software is quite simple to use and easy to navigate. The T-pose worked great and calibrated nicely. The first set of data I tried to track was approx 2 minutes long and would take what I thought it said was 1 hour so many mins so many seconds…..turns out it was 1 day so many hours, mins etc! Annabeth had warned me it would take a long time to track but I wasn’t anticipating that. So with Annabeths guidance I aborted that and reduced it from high quality track to lower quality and tracked just 500 frames and that took about an hour – hour and 1/2, for the purpose to do a test in Maya. I was keeping an eye on it all was going well but then the left arm popped out of place. I tried to reposition it and track forward but the tools to re position the bones of the skeleton are very buggy and difficult to use. Although there is a list of selectable bones that you can manipulate, only the left and right wrist would allow me to manually reposition.  I think that it popped out of position because of the quick erratic movements, so I left it temporarily until I have a chance to have another look at the manual and started to track the second section, the slower more smother part of the dance. So far that looks good, still tracking.

When problems occur solutions and alternatives need to be found, so here is what I am thinking. I think the first section of the dancer will have some difficulty tracking and will involve a lot of clean up, that’s if I can clean it up using the software. I need to see if I can clean up in motion builder, so I need to do some reading. If the clean-up of the first section is too time consuming I could track the 2nd section only, as I think that will be more successful and using the camera footage I recorded separately I could key frame the first section of the dance using rotomation.