February 26, 2018

Blessing or Curse, Avatar: Part Three

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20.02.2018, by Tim Schoonman

Why Motion Capture?

Several Hollywood movie productions use motion capture to create more realistic movement in CGI (computer generated images) movies. For instance, stunt scenes where the actors are exposed to serious injury if any of the safety precautions fail. Sometimes motion capture is used to have more control over the camera fly-by’s movement in post production, such as overview shots of a scene. Facial motion capture is also used to record facial expressions with special rigs, as shown in ‘Avatar’. These are essential for realistic animated characters.

Avatar: a Special Animated Movie?

The director of ‘Avatar’, James Cameron, whom also pioneered the CGI technology, used this technique because he wanted to create alien figures as realistically as possible. He made sure that several cameras were positioned around a sound stage. One of the key successes of ‘Avatar’ is in fact that they use the Na’vi, the most realistic and intelligent alien society, by having actors simply acting on moves and expressions without applying any sort of makeup or prosthetics.

The fact that a new form of motion capture was used meant that scenes can be recorded instantly and then converted into digital data. This is not the end, two years from now, in 2020, sequels of Avatar will be released, the great difference with the previous movies, is that these ones will be using motion capture cameras underwater. Sounds easy right? Well according to Cameron himself it was quite exhausting, as the interface between air and water creates a sort of mirror ruining the images. However it is is totally worth it! Exciting and challenging right?

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