I just got back from a week-long conference on teaching media, about which I’d love to talk more and more. And I will. You know I will.
You know journalist A.J. Liebling‘s old expression — “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” For a long time the same has been true for much of filmmaking and the cooler aspects of animation, including the sort of motion capture technology previously available only to those who could afford it.
But there is a fascinating project going on in Hungary, called Kitchen Budapest, which is creating a place for a myriad of arts and technology projects spearheaded by Hungarian artists. There is one, called Animata, which (if I understand correctly) will make motion capture much more accessible to the average computer geek (I doubt that Mom and Pop will be using it anytime soon, but that’s probably a good thing all around). Here is how they describe it:
In contrast with the traditional 3D animation programs, creating characters in Animata is quite simple and takes only a few minutes. On the basis of the still images, which serve as the skeleton of the puppets, we produce a network of triangles, some parts of which we link with a bony structure. The bones’ movement is based on a physical model, which allows the characters to be easily moved.
Check out a dancing figure in the following piece, which has an inset of the person who is controlling it.
And then, take a look at how you can get much more complex, using multiple figures and musical instruments.
Now, I have no idea how flexible this is. But, if it is as accessible as it looks, this bodes well for projects well behind artsy animation films. Just think how this could work with instructional videos (one of the largest and most successful areas for Internet video) and demo films.
Let me take a little sidetrip here. I remember years ago, there was an incredibly talented post-production sound mixer named Dick Vorisek in New York who created so much mystery about what he did that it seemed like no one could ever mix a film except for him. A little while later, another mixer (named Lee Dichter) started mixing in a much more open way. I began to feel that mixing wasn’t a huge mystery, but that no one could mix quite as well as Lee could.
This paradigm has now moved into the entire filmmaking process. We all can edit and do sound work much more easily than before. We can now afford to shoot as well. And we can color correct and do visual effects. Most of us aren’t doing those things very well but we’re beginning to understand and participate in the process much better than before. Now we’re beginning to see the light in terms of motion capture and bridging animation and live action.
This bodes for a vastly more interesting world out there. Link on over to Animata, and stay tuned for the future.