Anyone who’s ever had to animate something knows what a drawn out and tedious process it is, or rather, it used to be. Being shown off at SXSW this year is a system by Motus Digital that animates actors in real time, cutting the process from months of effort down to an instant action. The booth at SXSW let passersby chat with an animated zombie, but the system could have interesting implications for companies with iconic characters they’d like to let people interact with.
Motus has been around for a few years with their motion capture technology, and this real-time system has the potential to create some interesting new uses for animation. Live, and even improvised cartoons can be made in real time rather than just drawing an animation to match a recorded audio track. Alyson Shontell from Business Insider interviewed an actor named Chris being animated as a zombie at SXSW, and she said it took a while to realize exactly what was happening. You can see her interview here:
The process of animating the actor behind the character may be instantaneous, but it still requires a lengthy preparation to attach all the required sensors to the actor’s skin. The sensors are the same kind used in traditional motion capture, and they allow the animated character to have the same points of articulation and expression as the actor. Motus features a time lapse video of the process on their website. Chris the zombie said the process takes between 75 to 90 minutes, but it’s done in about three minutes here:
The Motus Digital site explains their process:
Essentially we have turned our regular Motion Capture system into a Live Animated puppet. Everything that the actor does in the performance capture stage is immediately applied to the character. We then can feed this video out through any medium where anyone can have live real interactions with an animated CG Character.
It’s easy to see this technology being used by companies with animated characters to license. Imagine a live interview with the characters from the next big animated movie, or the chance to talk to your favorite characters at a theme park. This could be an interesting new use for motion capture technology, or maybe it’s just a passing fad.
What do you think? Is real-time animation the next big thing?
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