21 Feb 2023
Bournemouth University is recognized as one of the foremost animation institutions in the United Kingdom. Under the leadership of Zhidong Xiao, Deputy Head of Department at the National Centre for Computer Animation, their animation focus applies to three main practice areas: teaching the full pipeline of motion capture technology to inspire student animation projects; exploring new mocap usage for research councils; and helping creative filmmakers and artists through studio space and advanced equipment.
Having experimented with motion capture systems since 2003, the university’s original fixed capture space was an ample-sized classroom primarily used for teaching character animation, utilizing Motion Analysis’ Raptor 2 active optical motion system. By 2010, however, the team was developing a new, larger studio facility. Able to accommodate a greater number of cameras, there was an increasing need for advanced data processing and motion retargeting to suit larger-scale projects.
There is a growing expectation for advanced detail in 3D character animation, which has spurred mocap technology to similarly scale in precision and sophistication. Whether it’s creating robots, mythical creatures or cartoon figures in games, films or television shows, facial and bodily movements are becoming increasingly lifelike to make visual experiences like never before.
To track these actors’ movements (fitted in bodysuits complete with markers), passive optical systems are one option to accurately capture motion data. Able to track the simultaneous motions of objects and humans alongside video footage, the marker movements synchronize with Motion Analysis’ Cortex software, which helps to map the skeleton that will later become a 3D animated character brought to vivid life. The tracked real-time data makes completing re-dos or small edits in post-production far simpler, keeping a record of the actor’s motions before the computer graphics have been superimposed.
For animation educators like Zhidong’s team, that cross-collaboration between software and equipment provides a greater advantage to teaching the full scale of animation methods to students. Now utilizing 16 of our fixed 4K Kestrel cameras for accurate data capture, student classes remain a focus, but the newer space was also designed to better craft virtual reality sets for television shows, film music videos, and to develop special effects for the silver screen.
The interoperable mocap system opens the doors to create brand new experiences in the studio, to benefit community projects, student work and artistic expression. Bournemouth University’s media department is set to carry on their work in these areas, using their animation studio space and Motion Analysis system to develop machine learning and training techniques for industries choosing to adopt mocap technology’s many advantages.
Want to discover more about Bournemouth University’s collaboration with Motion Analysis? Catch up on the full story in our case study.