Sunday, 30 December 2012

ARTLAB 2: Tuesday November 13.


This was our first practical day in the studio to work with Avatars.

We developed the idea of the raked floor and constructed the 3D house, while testing the use of white face on the actors and investigating the movement of Avatars via the actors in Motion Capture suits. 

Tracking session in mocap suit 1.
Suiting up. 


Question: rather than dynamic control, if it’s not going to be clear to the audience what we are doing, then events and interaction should be cued with a button press.

Preparing Ruth.
Tracking Phil.


COFA based new media artist, Volker Kuchelmeister, came down to work with us for the two week Motion Capture Lab. He presented a number of visual options: 

  1. Textured beams which expand and contract.
  1. An interactive expanding/contracting cube.
  1. Growing cityscape, then presented as a wall.
  1. Two parallel walls framing the performer. 
  1. Window frames coming in and out.
  1. Naturalistic 3D forest.
  1. Forest viewed through black wall with window holes. 



Tracking and blocking.

  • The world growing from a flat surface is very effective.
  • The house is pulsing.
  • There is a clear trade off between quick proto typing and lush graphics, this is a trade off between motion builder (the program we are using for the Motion Capture) and a games engine, how do we bridge that gap?
  • The houses movement is a distraction.
  • How often should the house move, and how subtle is the movement?
  • Snow is aesthetically fitting to the play but had huge window violation issues.
  • Atmospheric effects like snow could work by having a large black floor in the virtual world.
  • It’s nice when the projection frames the subject.
  • We can’t use sharks tooth and a 3D projector as there needs to be a special silver screen for 3D projections.


Getting an actor and avatar to look at each other is hard. Putting the avatars 3Dness at the screen depth gives all the audience the same viewpoint. Idea: is the show just the actors in motion capture suits and the show happens in the screen? Large exaggerated movements with the actors looks better, there is a subtlety to the quality of there avatar's movement but not the actual movements.

Tomorrow we will look at mics to displace the actors voices, what effect will this have? 
3 ideas about avatars that we tested:

Regene has an avatar that is a better version of herself.
Angstrand’s avatar becomes what other people thing of him.
Ozvald's avatar is his father. 


  • The real enjoyment is that the mocap is live.
  • The avatar by its self is not enough!
  • The projection screen as a mirror works well.
  • Would eyes on the avatars help or hinder?
  • Idea: we could use a games engine, build a world with all the locations we want in the play and then drive the camera around inside that.



We observed: 

  • That a suited person speaking and an avatar with no mouth are clearly linked: she says “come”, but he can not come through the screen. 
  • The stereo depth really sells it, it is great when someone reaches out of the screen.
  • One actor in a mocap suit and the avatar fully dressed in costume works.
  • The screen as a mirror lets us see what the actor is doing with their back to us.
  • Tethering of the camera's focus to the avatar works.
  • When the cameras POI (point of interest) is tracking the avatar's head, it makes the avatar the top of the visual hierarchy, pulling focus.
  • Watching the avatar alone in the house acting out the scene is strong.
  • The growing and shrinking of the house needs to be subtle.
  • The avatar looks great framed by the windows.
  • One actor controlling the window with his hand. Important: when the actor is looking at the audience and miming we watch him, but when he looks at the screen it becomes puppetry and we engage with the screen.
  • Why would we use mocap if the audience can’t tell we are doing it?
  • We can track other real-world objects and put them in the virtual scene.
  • We looked at both actors in a house of leaves.
  • Natural skin colours looks poor of the actors mixed with the 3D world.
  • White pace paint makes actor look part of the scene.
  • We looked at the actors in front of the windows with the snow outside: this was a strong image. Maybe the design would work best mixing minimalist and hyper realistic. The design should be heightened realism.

  • It's time to look at the play with what we have learned from experimenting.
  • We need to try the wireless mics.
  • Tanja (set designer) is going away to come up with some design stuff.
  • Do we need to have some 3D modellers next week?
  • We need to get some scrim.  

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