Director Ian Chisholm Uses End-to-End Markerless Performance Capture Pipeline For Character Animation; Film Now Airing on YouTube
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – For his most ambitious project to date, the feature length horror film Ticket Zer0, motion capture director/writer Ian Chisholm once again leaned heavily on iPi Motion Capture (iPi Mocap), the advanced markerless motion capture technology from iPi Soft. The 66-minute animated machinima cinematic production is currently available for streaming on YouTube or Blu-Ray here.
Ticket Zer0 is a follow-up to Chisholm’s Clear Skies trilogy series (viewed by hundreds of thousands on YouTube), which also used iPi Mocap throughout for performance capture. Ticket Zer0 tells the story of the night shift at a deserted industrial facility. When a troubleshooter is sent in to fix a mysterious problem, something far more sinister emerges than any of them could have imagined.
Chisholm notes production for Ticket Zer0 took almost five years to complete and used iPi Motion Capture for recording movement in every single frame for all the characters in the film.
“iPi Soft technology has proven to be an invaluable creative resource for me as a filmmaker during motion capture sessions,” he says. “There wasn't anything on screen that wasn't recorded by iPi Mocap. The ability to perform the motion capture was exactly what I needed to expand and improve the immersive quality of my film.”
For motion capture production, Chisholm used iPi Mocap in conjunction with six Sony PS3 Eye cameras along with two PlayStation Move controllers to track hand movements. With a large amount of video data produced, captured footage was recorded to a solid-state storage device and a dedicated USB3 card. An older quad core PC with ample USB bandwidth and disk speed was sufficient; CPU horsepower was not a requirement.
Handling the motion capture performances, Chisholm broke the Ticket Zer0 script down into one-to-two-page scenes and created capture schedules for each character to block out where each was on set, and then described exactly what each was doing per line of dialogue. Chisholm often performed the motion capture months later, so it was crucial to know if a character was standing or seated and the direction in which they were looking further making accurate capture critical from the start.
Once the motion capture footage was processed, character action was imported into Set Builder, part of the Hammer mapping tool for the Half-Life 2 engine in the Source Valve SDK. Following, choreography scenes were built in Faceposer in the Source engine and motion capture footage recorded in the game engine using the Fraps screen capture and recording utility and then edited using Vegas Movie Studio.
Advances to iPi Mocap’s processing capabilities since Chisholm produced Clear Skies ten years ago, were key to meeting the motion capture challenges in Ticket Zer0.
“It was almost spooky how well the software was able to handle performance tracking with the six camera setup,” Chisholm notes. “The accuracy of the capture that could be achieved now in iPi Mocap motion allowed me to have many more physical interactions in my film, and it conveyed body language extremely well.”
Today, many working CG animators are turning to markerless motion capture systems like iPi Soft because it accurately captures human motion data using inexpensive, off-the-shelf cameras that do not require clumsy sensor suits and greenscreen stages. Moreover, the captured animations don’t exhibit artifacts like jitter or foot skate; and can be easily exported into many leading game engines, 3D software and animation rigs.
Michael Nikonov, founder/chief technology architect of iPi Soft, first became a fan of Chisholm’s work when he saw the Clear Skies film projects, and remains impressed at the level of creativity filmmakers like Chisholm achieve with the company’s markerless motion capture technology.
“We are committed to developing the most reliable and powerful markerless motion capture solutions to help filmmakers, animators, and video game developers address their production challenges efficiently and affordably,“ Nikonov says. “We’re thrilled that our iPi Motion Capture technology offered the ultimate accuracy and flexibility to let Ian achieve his creative vision with this epic new film.”
About iPi Soft:
Launched in 2008, iPi Soft, LLC is the Moscow-based developer of iPi Motion Capture™, a markerless motion capture software tool that uses sophisticated image processing and computer vision algorithms to recognize and track the human body. The company’s breakthrough technology digitizes the movement of a human skeleton, rendering it in expressive 3D characters for video games or computer. For additional information, on iPi Soft, product pricing, product configurations or a 30-day free trial please visit, http://www.ipisoft.com.