>observer_ & the Art of Mocap
Platige Image helped to transfer the acting of Arkadiusz Jakubik, one of the best Polish actors, into virtual reality for the video game ">observer_", produced by Bloober Team. Recreating the artist’s movement and facial expressions was possible with the use of a technique known as motion capture, or mocap.

By utilizing mocap, we can animate basically anything we can stick a marker to: usually actors, but also props, animals or vehicles. Markers are light-bouncing elements of suits worn by mocap performers. The position of each one is tracked by a number of cameras. The recordings themselves are 2D, but having at least a couple of them allows us to triangulate the position of each marker in a three-dimensional space. By tracing all the markers, we can recreate full body movement in 3D.

HOW DOES AN ACTOR BECOME A DIGITAL CHARACTER?

After a mocap session all recorded data needs to be processed. We call it ‘reconstruction’ -- the changes in position of markers are recreated in a virtual 3D space. In order to reconstruct a move properly, first we need to identify each marker (tell the computer which one is an arm, which one is a foot), then remove any possible glitches and fill in missing information.

Sometimes that’s where our work ends. Selected data goes to the client, who works with it on his own. However, we often take another step, which is retargeting. It means transferring the animation onto a digital model and touching it up -- so our virtual warrior’s legs don’t sink in the ground and his hands hold the sword properly.

LIKE ON A MOVIE SET

Working with mocap in a virtual space is similar to working on a movie set. The difference is, not all decisions have to be made during the shoot, and not all of them are irreversible. A virtual actor can be put into any location and shot from a countless number of angles. It is also possible to test varied lighting schemes. All in all, the room to maneuver is huge.

Motion capture is a technology best fitted when the animation is supposed to be realistic, or as realistic as possible. Mocap performed by a professional actor serves not only to recreate natural movement, but also to build the emotional side of a character -- in order to make him or her stand out. Video games developers are well aware of it, and that’s why more and more often we get to work with such masterful actors as Arkadiusz Jakubik.

See the behind-the-scenes of motion capture. The video “observer_ Behind the Scenes: Arkadiusz Jakubik” was executed and recorded by Bloober Team at Platige Image studio for the video game >observer_.