Mocap and keyframed animation

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  07 July 2013
Mocap and keyframed animation

Because no one going to notice this thread on Animation forums, i am going to post here as well.


For very high animation, like those from Movies. Avengers, Hobbit or Avatar, i see lot of MoCap. My first question is, Can be done the level of animation that provides Mocap, to be done without it, i mean just with keyframing?

Like Dobby/Gollum/Hulk movement, expression?


For Cinematic/Live action movies. How is animated so much higher polygon model? Like Hulk in Avengers or the 6 legs creatures from Avatar?

Does first thing is rigger the lower version of the model, and then the details are applied by some texture maps?


any experience animator would be grateful to share his experience.
 
  07 July 2013
In theory keyframing can achieve all the motion.

It's just a question of how much time you are given to get that motion.

Many professional sources here already cite that the Mocap systems are so advanced as to render high-quality motion instantaneous and in that way, keyframing cannot compete except for Stylizing the motion at that level.

There is an element where you'd want keyframing anyway for Maximum Artistic Input.

The polycount has been going up steadily for ages.. even on home systems.

The garden in REVERSION for example, contains about 18,000 individually instanced plants, and some of our sets contained millions upon millions of verts.

And that was just for a student production to be rendered with a pair of Quad Core PC's.

Geometry wise, we all hit "no reasonable limit to number of vertices and polygons for scenes" a long time ago.
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  07 July 2013
Thank you Padawan.

So with keyframed animation it is possible to achieve any kind of motion.

I know for Toon animation, is 100% keyframed. But, i am more for realistic animation, Avatar like animation.
 
  07 July 2013
It's possible, but it's a lot of work.

I find that in BOTH cases (MoCap or Keyframe) there is a lot of emphasis on the quality of the character rig.

Some CG face rigs nowadays for example contain more than 100 moving areas (whether shape driven or bone driven). Whether you choose to capture the motion directly or keyframe it... you will need to make sure the face rigs can acquire those poses in the first place.

Same goes with FK/IK arms.. bones that simulate forearm twist.. bones that simulate the raising of the wrist vein when bending the wrist.... etc etc.

The Character Rig is so important to even begin considering what type of motion system to use.

Now once you have so many moving points... it becomes a matter of how quickly you get the poses you need.

Many of the traditional animation considerations also come into play: Timing, Spacing, etc. and acting for MoCap isn't like traditional acting either in many cases.
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  07 July 2013
AVATAR animators

When I was in Animation Mentor, we had a couple of animators from Weta for a Q&A session,
I don't remember their names, but acording to them 30% of all animation done for the Na'vi was keyframed, including dialog. The Kiss scenes for example was achieved with sculpting level animation. That goes without saying the remaining 70% of mocap had to be keyframe corrected by animators as well, and of course, every time you see action scenes or they are flying on Banshes... = keyframe animation... that talk about performance capture only worked well for faces and only 90% of the time they didn't had to make corrections.

ps: since it was so long ago I'm sorry for any inacaurate information

Last edited by Wonderer : 07 July 2013 at 07:16 AM.
 
  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: It's possible, but it's a lot of work.

I find that in BOTH cases (MoCap or Keyframe) there is a lot of emphasis on the quality of the character rig.

Some CG face rigs nowadays for example contain more than 100 moving areas (whether shape driven or bone driven). Whether you choose to capture the motion directly or keyframe it... you will need to make sure the face rigs can acquire those poses in the first place.

Same goes with FK/IK arms.. bones that simulate forearm twist.. bones that simulate the raising of the wrist vein when bending the wrist.... etc etc.

The Character Rig is so important to even begin considering what type of motion system to use.

Now once you have so many moving points... it becomes a matter of how quickly you get the poses you need.

Many of the traditional animation considerations also come into play: Timing, Spacing, etc. and acting for MoCap isn't like traditional acting either in many cases.


Since i got your attention. I would like to give me further information, if you know of course.

So it's all depends of quality of the characters rigs, and how fast you animate with keyframes?

I saw Gollum in Hobbit, so many rigs on his faces, neck, around eyes, forehead, ears, nose, mouth. Everything was rigged.

Does so many rigs on characters, will affect PC performances?

@Wonderer Thank you. So motion capture usually is done for Dialogue?
 
  07 July 2013
mocap is broadily used for anything, walking running, melee fighting, but for dialog is more sussesfull, mainly because it is something humans can easily do, action scenes on the other hand require a imense use of digital stunts, and those are always keyframed because the actor can't jump 30 ft in the air and fall on his face on a concrete floor without diyng, my point was that all mocap you saw in movies... was at some point reworked, rekeyframed and improved by an animator...
 
  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by Wonderer: mocap is broadily used for anything, walking running, melee fighting, but for dialog is more sussesfull, mainly because it is something humans can easily do, action scenes on the other hand require a imense use of digital stunts, and those are always keyframed because the actor can't jump 30 ft in the air and fall on his face on a concrete floor without diyng, my point was that all mocap you saw in movies... was at some point reworked, rekeyframed and improved by an animator...



I got your point and thank you.

To be honest, i want to try my strength and animate without mocap at all.Especially for very realistic movement.
 
  07 July 2013
In my opinion it can't be done, speaking of realistic human motion on a realistic human character. Monsters and Hulk's aside, attempts to do so often end in the rubbery cartoonish animation seen in some of the poorly executed shots in Blade II or Man of Steel. As the padawan learner mentioned, part of the reason for this is time. Dennis Muren, the VFX producer at ILM, once commented that in the past they might spend months on a single shot, but today they do all the shots for an entire movie in those months.

Time is only one of the reasons, though. The other is that we all know human motion, even if caught out of the corner of our eye. We see it everyday and recognize every nuance of it. The slightest deviation from he norm and it just feels wrong to us. This is why they get contortionists and actors who can do weird motions to play ghosts in movies. The awkward motion is disturbing to us. SO it is with a keyframe character, the more realistic the design. Animating a Dobby, Gollum or even a Mr. Incredible is not at all the same as animating a jedi. Our eye is all the more quickly attracted to the mistakes in the jedi.

We often here high level animators talk of the need to rework and fix the mocap they are given. In the past, this certainly was true, but a lot of this is technological limitations of the systems, and not a flaw inherent in mocap itself. Modern systems can now capture multiple actors, capture the faces at the same time and deliver nearly flawless data. On top of that, moder software can handle the cleanup which use the require an animator to fix. I have seen raw Kinect mocap come out better than some of the stuff we were doing with a 24 camera Vicon system, costing several hundred thousand dollars, ten years ago. The industry will gladly embrace this because it makes things cheaper and faster.
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  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: In my opinion it can't be done, speaking of realistic human motion on a realistic human character. Monsters and Hulk's aside, attempts to do so often end in the rubbery cartoonish animation seen in some of the poorly executed shots in Blade II or Man of Steel. As the padawan learner mentioned, part of the reason for this is time. Dennis Muren, the VFX producer at ILM, once commented that in the past they might spend months on a single shot, but today they do all the shots for an entire movie in those months.

Time is only one of the reasons, though. The other is that we all know human motion, even if caught out of the corner of our eye. We see it everyday and recognize every nuance of it. The slightest deviation from he norm and it just feels wrong to us. This is why they get contortionists and actors who can do weird motions to play ghosts in movies. The awkward motion is disturbing to us. SO it is with a keyframe character, the more realistic the design. Animating a Dobby, Gollum or even a Mr. Incredible is not at all the same as animating a jedi. Our eye is all the more quickly attracted to the mistakes in the jedi.

We often here high level animators talk of the need to rework and fix the mocap they are given. In the past, this certainly was true, but a lot of this is technological limitations of the systems, and not a flaw inherent in mocap itself. Modern systems can now capture multiple actors, capture the faces at the same time and deliver nearly flawless data. On top of that, moder software can handle the cleanup which use the require an animator to fix. I have seen raw Kinect mocap come out better than some of the stuff we were doing with a 24 camera Vicon system, costing several hundred thousand dollars, ten years ago. The industry will gladly embrace this because it makes things cheaper and faster.


So, i can't get rid from Mocap, if i want to work for film? I don't know, prefer keyframing animation. As far, i have 2 full years in school, and this 1 year, i have been animating, wuth keyframed. So, watching scifi/fantasy movies. I wonder, if i can get the same results, by animating from scratch.
 
  07 July 2013
Just expanding a bit of what teruchan said, if you have the time them yes, you can keyframe everything, but mocap give imediate results, and everyone aside from the animators don't seen to be able to tell the diference from polished animation and raw keyframed results. I mean, I've done animation mentor, and for every 1 week of animation, 3 went in polishing. But if you are talking quality, I dare you to tell the diference from a mocap sequence and a keyframed one.
Some very big sequences in Avatar that were originaly mocaped couldn't be used, and animators redone them from scratch.
 
  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: In my opinion it can't be done, speaking of realistic human motion on a realistic human character. Monsters and Hulk's aside, attempts to do so often end in the rubbery cartoonish animation seen in some of the poorly executed shots in Blade II or Man of Steel. As the padawan learner mentioned, part of the reason for this is time. Dennis Muren, the VFX producer at ILM, once commented that in the past they might spend months on a single shot, but today they do all the shots for an entire movie in those months.

Time is only one of the reasons, though. The other is that we all know human motion, even if caught out of the corner of our eye. We see it everyday and recognize every nuance of it. The slightest deviation from he norm and it just feels wrong to us. This is why they get contortionists and actors who can do weird motions to play ghosts in movies. The awkward motion is disturbing to us. SO it is with a keyframe character, the more realistic the design. Animating a Dobby, Gollum or even a Mr. Incredible is not at all the same as animating a jedi. Our eye is all the more quickly attracted to the mistakes in the jedi.

We often here high level animators talk of the need to rework and fix the mocap they are given. In the past, this certainly was true, but a lot of this is technological limitations of the systems, and not a flaw inherent in mocap itself. Modern systems can now capture multiple actors, capture the faces at the same time and deliver nearly flawless data. On top of that, moder software can handle the cleanup which use the require an animator to fix. I have seen raw Kinect mocap come out better than some of the stuff we were doing with a 24 camera Vicon system, costing several hundred thousand dollars, ten years ago. The industry will gladly embrace this because it makes things cheaper and faster.


Whatever method is chosen the rig is of the utmost importance.

It's like, you can't win a car race without a good car beneath you.

Once that is assumed, the interesting point you raise there is how we "know" motion. The fact is Disney films like "Tangled" are able to incite what people loosely described as living motion without any use of motion capture.... that's sort of an abstracted point away from "real motion".

Some people in the audience will go on to say "Tangled" has "realistic acting".. They'd be wrong.. but it shows you how the mind plays tricks.

Then there's the literal recording and re-mapping of motion as mocap is today (not what mocap was a few years ago with all the re-posing).

I think in terms of degree... a certain quality is attainable.. but it won't be the same.

@ Maliot: Bones and Geometry all mostly don't have any real limits anymore in 3D apps. Only game engines have bone count total issues. Even if you start hitting problems you can always render elements separately and composite them together cleverly later (for stuff like "crowds of thousands of characters").

What really taxes the machinery are Visual Effects that require per point calculations like Ray Tracing, Depth of Field, Blurs, Vector Motion Blurs, Sub-Surface Scattering.... those are the ones you should be watching for....

But you always have the option of being a bit clever and switching off the ones you don't need.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 07 July 2013 at 11:50 PM.
 
  07 July 2013
I prefer a little squash and stretch personally but I'm interested to see what you come up with in this keyframing experiment.
 
  07 July 2013
@ Maliot: Also bear in mind the price... almost-good quality systems (basically the old-age stuff that requires lots of reposing) costs around 10,000 USD.. .

And that will only get you a small room at most (Capturing maybe only 2 or 3 people at a time).

When we say the Mocap is advanced.. it's at the highest point.. proprietary setups with many many IR cameras in specially built places large enough to ride horses in.

So the truth is... unless you have plans of converting an entire Warehouse and getting all this new equipment (and it won't be available off-the-shelf).... you may find that keyframing is the only viable choice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-S7wQx_hvs

That's how Disney do it.. note how "Ref Take" is kind of a nice half-way point to Mocap..
You compare how it's done in sketches.. and then how it's done by real people.
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  07 July 2013
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