Creating digital animation by hand is known as “keyframing” or filling in the movement of a character between different “keyframe” poses over time. Even when animators are creating character movements by hand, they often reference video footage, study someone acting out a scene or even look at themselves in a mirror.
Capturing human emotion so that it can be performed through digital characters is a challenge but is also where much of the magic happens. Increasingly the best facial animation comes from the combination of an expressive voice actor performance and cutting-edge video capture technology. The dialog is recorded just as it would normally be in a traditional recording studio environment with the difference being the voice actor wearing a head set with a high definition camera attached to capture every nuance of their facial expressions.
Traditional full body motion capture transfers all the movements of an actor to a digital character. Increasingly full body motion capture systems are used with tracking cameras (with or without markers) and can be referred to as “optical,” while systems that measure inertia or mechanical motion are “non-optical.” Optical systems work by tracking position markers or features in 3D and assembling the data based on the actor’s motion. Active systems use markers that light up or blink distinctively, while passive systems use inert objects like white balls or just painted dots.
Marker-less systems, on the other hand, use performance capture algorithms from match-moving software to track distinctive features, like an actor’s facial expressions. Once captured, motion is then mapped onto a virtual “skeleton” of the animated character. The result? Animated characters that look like real-life performers at a fraction of the time required to keyframe the entire animation.
Recently Pyramind Studios partnered with Faceware Technologies to implement their cutting edge, marker-less recording system into our VO (voice over) pipeline. The entirety of the facial gestures of a voice actors recording session can be captured onto HD video while simultaneously recording the vocal performance. The videos can then be “tracked” using Analyzer: a marker-less, single-camera facial motion capture software that requires no dots and no special outfits to wear. Analyzer is built with over a decade of patented facial and gesture recognition technology and practical experience across film, television, games, and commercials.
Analyzer produces facial motion files for use in Retargeter, an intuitive pose-based workflow that utilizes the facial tracking data to create facial animation. Retargeter does the heavy lifting through an interface and workflow designed by animators. This time saving tool set creates high-quality realistic animation on any character rig in Autodesk 3DS Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, and Softimage.
If you’re looking for a trusted studio to record your dialog and voice over and are interested in learning more about Performance capture contact us for a free consult and tour of Pyramind’s downtown SF facilities. 415.896.9800 x200
Or go to our Voice Over Services Page.