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iPi Soft Helps Mobile Content Developer AWEMarkerless Motion Capture Brings Past To Life
iPiSoft : http://ipisoft.com/
'Fort York is the largest historic site in Toronto and they wanted to create a dramatic visitor experience that spanned across the entire site, both indoors and out,' explains Srinivas Krishna, AWE's CEO and the Director of the project (produced through Krishna's production company Divani Films, Toronto). 'We created content that, when viewed on a mobile phone using Google Cardboard, immerses visitors inside a 360-degree environment that recreates historical events from different eras that occurred right where visitors are standing. It's a fun and powerful experience.'
Perhaps most memorable is the pivotal role Fort York played during the War of 1812, when the U.S. navel ships attacked the fort, which was then under the control of the British army. To re-create that experience, along with several other noteworthy events that occurred at the site, Krishna designed a workflow that leaned heavily on iPi Motion Capture.
Krishna explained that project, which initially began three years ago, included creating animated model rigs for the multitude of characters that would be seen virtually. Built using Unity's 3D Game engine, the character models, as well as the environments (designed to look like Fort York at the time) were animated using Maya. That content was then composited with the motion capture action sequences filmed using iPi Motion Capture, along with facial mocap data captured using Mixamo Face Plus.
'On the production side, we had a real problem because of the huge number of characters the client wanted represented,' Krishna says. 'It became a challenge on many levels. We wondered how are we going to create our 3D models and use motion capture in a cost effective way. iPi Soft proved great for this type of large-scale amount of footage on a modest budget. Markerless mocap is perfect for broad strokes, and as a filmmaker I found working with it to be a marvelous creative experience.'
While it would seem historical sites like Fort York are perfect for these types of virtual reality experiences, Krishna notes that the project was a bit of a risk given that when they started Google Cardboard wasn't yet on anyone's radar.
'We started developing this in 2012, which actually turned out to be good timing because we were able to think creatively and implement while at the same time the ecosystem for VR was developing,' Krishna adds. 'We see this as a game-changer in this arena, and I think more historical sites around the world are going to be interested in creating these types of experiences for their visitors.'
For iPi Soft's Founder and Chief Technology Architect Michael Nikonov the Fort York project represents yet another way innovative companies are unleashing the creative power of markerless motion capture.
'Virtual reality is the buzzword of the entertainment industry today,' Nikonov says. 'That's why it's so encouraging to see how creative companies like AWE and Divani Films are able to harness the power of our markerless motion capture technology to produce one-of-a-kind virtual reality experiences that audiences can enjoy now.'
Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles. In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design. When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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