PhaseSpace live mo-cap looping

Rob Enderle (ex Disney) at TechNewsWorld picks his product of the week…

PhaseSpace […] showcased a relatively inexpensive tool to do motion capture and translate the result into a movie or commercial. This is a process that typically costs U.S.$1,000 to $10,000 a second, and they intend to get this cost down to or below $10 a second. Once an environment is created and characters are inked, then actors can put on electronic suits and move in the artificial environment. This is kind of how they did Avatar, but what was demonstrated was done with off-the-shelf HP workstations running Intel’s new Xeon processors rather than ultra high-end hardware.”

Technical detail over at GottaBeMobile, who attended the same event…

“As the actor acts, his motion manipulates his animated virtual character. […] Each red dot you see on the actor blinks at a slightly different frequency. The array of cameras mounted around and above the stage can detect the exact position of the actor’s body and face. […] The workstations are powerful enough to render the scenes in real time, which means the director can see what his production looks like and can make changes on the fly. If the director tires of a camera angle, he can pick up the TouchSmart tm2 and it becomes a camera. The PhaseSpace sensors relay the position and angle of the TouchSmart PC back to the workstations. The workstations almost instantaneously transmit the rendered scene back to the tablet’s display. The director can not only play with camera angles, but can use his finger to adjust the digital backdrops.”

Video from the event:

ICG magazine has a profile of several competing systems.

Free WETA raygun for iClone

iClone users suffering from WETA Raygun Envy (see previous post) can download this prop (1.5Mb, .zip file) I converted for iClone…

Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

WETA Raygun by Crazy Eyes converted by me for iClone and reduced to 34,000 faces. Also re-sized to fit normal character hands. Picture: Reallusion Superhero freebie gal (an old blurry G1, I think?), with altered clothing texture and better hair. Background is my altered version of Blaster219’s Creative Commons picture. Lightning frazzle effect using the Xenofex 2 plugin for Photoshop.

Blender RayGun boffins required

Use the free Blender to create a magnificent steampunk ray-gun for famed FX company Weta Workshop’s Dr Grordbort

“Competitors can either choose to decorate an existing raygun model, or create a raygun model from scratch. The competition will run for seven months, with each month consisting of a new category for competitors to enter. The competition will test competitors’ modelling, texturing and animation skills.”

Note the… “and animation skills”.

Even more interesting is the rendering solution being offered…

“New Zealand company Intergrid is providing […] rendering power for designers, through Green Button, its rendering solution [via upload to an online render farm] that can be used from right within Blender as a plug-in. With the power of the servers that were used to render The Lord of the Rings behind them, Green Button offers an easy-to-use service which renders animations at high speed. […] Ten CPUs churning for an hour will run you to six U.S. dollars.”

Although, for anything longer than a couple of minutes, I guess the problem for normal folks is getting your raw footage back on anything smaller than a $200 hard-drive. By Air Mail. From New Zealand.

Prizes include an all-expenses trip to New Zealand to meet key creatives at Weta Workshop. Plus monthly prizes and special give-aways.

I’m thinking iClone might get some useful publicity by being one of those special giveaways, what with the upcoming Reallusion sci-fi competition?