In the new Disney movie 'John Carter, civil war vet', John Carter is transported to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians.
For 'John Carter', vfx companies Halon and Double Negative worked on the visual effects. Both companies used the Xsens MVN for this major project.
Read what they have to say about the motion capture for John Carter:
Eamonn Butler, head of animation at Double Negative:
“We reached a point where we thought it might be cool for the animators to capture their own performance and feather that in to what the actor did or use it as reference – much the same way that traditional animators use mirrors to look at their faces. So we invested in a Xsens MVN suit and we had a special room at the studio where animators could put the suit on and act stuff out and have it on their desk by the afternoon. Then they could select different takes of their own performance and combine it with what the actors gave us. We ended up using the suit to generate lots of the library animation that we needed to build up a crowd system. We produced over 800 cycles of animation for that crowd library which was more than there were shots in the film that we animated on.
Animators typically don’t like working with motion capture really, but we empowered them to use it for themselves to be able to try out different takes and get out all the bad ideas really quickly and get in the good ideas. And the other thing was we didn’t want to do say mo-cap of the actors on stilts because it looks just like that – actors with leg extensions – and we didn’t want to kill our creative time.”
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Dan Gregoire, previs supervisor at Halon:
"As with every other aspect of the shoot, Halon had to take its game up a notch. “John Carter was the first time we deployed our full virtual camera system,” Gregoire adds. “The ‘White Ape’ sequence that you see in the trailer was approached differently than the other seven sequences that we worked with. We actually put second unit director Mark Andrews in an Xsens MVN suit, which is an inertial motion capture system.
We had Mark act out all the actions of the white apes throughout the sequence. We took that into MotionBuilder, cleaned it up, and compiled it into scenes. Then we used our motion capture volume and a virtual camera to shoot them, rather than having an artist animate a camera.”
Andrew Stanton, director of John Carter:
"Many people mistakenly believe that with motion capture you put on a suit, it records your movements and then the data is applied directly to a computer model, and that’s the end of it; it’s suddenly finished. The truth is, anytime you’ve seen motion capture done well, there’s been a talented animator in the middle of that process who has been finessing that data, or more often fixing or supplementing the source material to really bring it to life, to a place that shines.
It’s the pairing of a great actor with a great animator that gives you the performances that you’ve been the most impressed by so far with CG characters and live action. And that’s not that different than fully animated movies. On an animated film, you get great vocals from an actor and sometimes we even record that actor on videotape to get references for their actions and gestures, but it all goes nowhere without an animator putting it all together into a great performance."