A theory on a cheaper Dinosaur Input Device

My theory is: Why can’t we take a wire armature, hot glue or gorilla glue motion capture dots on said armature, set up a miniature motion capture stage, and go to town?

I want to do comic books, but my drawing skills… they’re not the greatest. Specifically, perspective and having things look the same in all the panels. I figured I learn to use Blender and make my art that way. However, I wondered if there was an easier way to move CG models other than through a mouse.

I’m also interested in digital puppetry and found out about the MoCap for Artists by Brian Windsor and Midori Kitagawa. Specifically, chapter 11, which described on how a little imagination with where the motion capture dots are attached, like attaching dots to a stick and moving a creatures eye with that, can motion capture any creature. Definitely inspiring, both on turning almost any Pixar film into a Pixar/Jim Henson hybrid, and with coming up with idea.

I figured I do a web search and see if anyone else had that idea or something similar to how Jurassic Park’s animators used armature with sensors to move their CG dinos. Nothing for optical motion capture and very little on mechanical. I found the Qumarion and the Monkey 2 armatures and… that was it. Both are either unavailable or has a website I can’t find, but the biggest punch is their price… four zeros after the number (and the Monkey’s number was 15) but none after the decimal point. Obviously outside most people’s price range (at least outside mine.)

I don’t see any reason why attaching the dots to a wire armature couldn’t work. Even if the face and hands are too small to be included on the armature, you motion capture parts at different times. Just have a separate hand armature and face armature and you’re covered.

As for prices, that’s kind of a stumble but not a huge hindrance. I found HD webcams for $30 a pop and I figured the stage would need 4-8. Also, 30 facial motion capture dots are $30 as well. I’m not sure how many I’d need (never capture motion in my life unless you count videotaping) but my best guess is that would good for at least 1 ½ to 2 armatures which you might be able to get away with if all your characters are mostly the same body shape (ie. quadruped, bipedal, octopuses, etc…) Worst case scenario, it could be easy to go over $1000, but it’d be just as easy to stay under that or even $500. Going over the $15000 of the Monkey 2… maybe, if you’re buying all the equipment James Cameron used for Avatar. Just webcams and wire, I doubt it. :slight_smile:

Furthermore, I think the fact these are wire armatures means there would be little to no collusion to worry about, meaning a higher limit of characters you could capture at once. Also, it’s almost ridiculously easy to make wire armatures and make them the shape you need, like human, bunny, or dragon.

I don’t see a lot of problems with this method but like I said, I haven’t done a lot of computer animation. That’s why I’m letting you guys know. Does anyone see huge problems with this kind of set up for someone knowing what they’re doing with Blender or their chosen software? Is it insane and, if so, the good kind of insanity that means it could work?

[QUOTE][ Is it insane and, if so, the good kind of insanity that means it could work?/QUOTE]

Yes; no.

I can’t see how this is any easier than posing the armature bones on screen with a mouse. It’s definitely easier to create an armature on screen than bending wire into shape…
I suspect you are not familiar with Blender’s animation system or CG animation in general, although you seem to have done a lot of research?? Drawing skills are not necessary for this aspect of animation.

Motion Capture is useful for capturing real life motion and transferring it to a virtual object. There is no particular upside to capturing motion from an object that doesn’t move by itself.

I know drawing’s not involved in CGI animation.

I’m not a CG expert but my understanding was that I could pose the armature, record the frame, and do the new frame.

I figured this method would’ve been easier for people who work better by moving stuff with their hands.

OK, I do think your method would work. However, I think it’s a very backward way to go about it.

I think Druban is right. Using a mocap system for anything other than capturing motion (or maybe realistic facial expressions) is probably too much work. Yes, this would be a sort of more direct way of controlling a rigged character… for a sort of stop-motion or comic book stills or something.

I find it implausible that you could successfully rig your characters in a way that worked with Mocap but then you suddenly find it too hard to pose them realistically inside blender, without resorting to puppets. Although making wire armatures might be easy, you still need to model and rig the characters in blender anyway. At which point, you get up from your computer and spend some minutes or hours repeating the process using physical wires, then you spend several more hours taking photos of them to pose them.

Either you need to stop fucking around and actually learn Blender, or give up on the medium of 3D entirely. I can hardly imagine a more difficult way to accomplish the task you are describing. Using a homebrew mocap system… to produce stills??

I could see using puppets for animation, as you note this is not uncommon in the industry, but it seems more trouble than it’s worth unless you’re actually grabbing motion.

If i understand well, your goal is to pose characters so you can use them as references for drawing ?

Blender requires some knowledge on how to do to pose characters (and most of the time will also require the knowledge to rig and weight them, not the easiest 3D task, though fortunately looking around you may be able to find pre-rigged and weighted characterson site like blendswap , or generated by programs like makehuman etc… ), so if you go the Blender route, be prepared to have to learn and practice, that’s not a problem if you’re very interested in 3D work as what you’ll learn will always be useful even if you switch to another program.
But if what you’re really only interested is drawing comics from easily posed characters, it can be a bit overwhelming, so take it slow.

Now there are programs like Poser or DAZ (the latter being free) that are specialised in posing characters.
And they have very easy controls that require no real 3D knowledge and no real learning time, the additional good point is that the characters are all rigged and weighted by masters of that kind of work.
So for what you want to do, it looks to me that you should look into those programs and see if they fit your needs better than Blender.

Now for homebrew mocap system, it’s a bit too complicated for my Blender knowledge, i know there are people that have created tools like that, but i never read much about this :

joke/ I don’t mean to be rude but if the wright brothers applied your same logic to flight they would have built a submarine with eight legs.

Yes, I can see how posing a character with a stop motion style armature might seem easier. But its not that difficult to pose in Blender and defiantly not worth all the hassle of going through all the extra steps you have postulated.

I suggest you either:
Learn to draw dinosaurs.
Learn to pose dinosaurs in 3D.
Learn to create/pose a real stop motion puppet.
Buy a bunch of articulated toy dinosaurs and take photos and draw face’s on top.

The last one you might turn your nose up at but robot chicken makes millions doing just that!

If all that fails I heard about some guys who are doing experiments with chicken DNA, to create a living dinosaur*. LINK

…what I said…

…what I should have said!

Sounds like a great competition idea! :smiley:

Now watch the OP use his system and make a truly awesome movie… Interviewed on Oprah: “Yeah, they laughed at me at BA, but did it stop me? No, because I had a vision!”

^ indeed… it could happen.

I should temper that. OP, If this is really the most effective way for YOU to get the result you want, by all means, do it. The result matters, the tools used to produce the result don’t. The best tool is the one that produces the best result.

I just find it hard to imagine this tool being the best one for the job you’ve described.

Are you talking about the DIDs that were stop-motion animated for the first movie? That would be incredibly tedious. Those were used because Tippet’s animators didn’t know how to use computers, and the computer guys didn’t know how to animate. The DIDs were a go-between to link the two groups. It’s much easier now to just animate in the computer. You set a few keyframes and the software fills in the tweens. You can fine-tune things in the curves editor. Even if you did it your way, you’re still going to need to clean things up in the computer.

IIRC, for the later movies, they built a T-rex armature that could be moved in real time and was used to control the on-set animatronic dinosaurs. Those dinos didn’t have to walk. They just moved the head and torso. The CG dinosaurs were all animated in the computer.
In the pic below, you can see a guy at lower right wearing an armature on his arms to control the spinosaurus’s arms.

If you want an easier way to capture dinosaur performance, just walk around like a dinosaur and capture yourself. Two or three of those Kinect devices would eliminate the problem of occlusion (not collusion.)

Steve S

To be honest, it sounds like far too much effort than it’s worth. Since you want to do comics, it would probably be more efficient to just… learn how to draw? With comics being heavily stylised, the drawings don’t even have to be perfect anyway.

Ok. Thank you guys for your opinions. I’ll figure on something else (like all Blender or all pencil). Just an idea. Thanks anyway. :slight_smile:

Good luck! It’s always good to evaluate your options and find the best tool for the job. I think the idea of combining analog and digital media is interesting, and physical input for motion/position can be really fast… but this particular case would be more trouble than it’s worth.

This seems like it’d be right up your alley: http://www.blendernation.com/2014/07/01/non-blender-3d-joystick-makes-character-animation-easier/

Thank you very much for sharing that :). That’s very close to what I had in mind, except my idea was motion capture dots on a wire armature. In either case, the narrator hit it on the head why I wanted to try something like that.

Thank you again SterlingRoth for the boost that have me :slight_smile:

I’ve never before tried to stick a dinosaur into my computer, but I will keep this in mind . . . :wink:

Fuuuunnnnnyyy. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: Classic.

The method of putting dots on a wire armature is still something I want to try. Do you guys think it’s at least possible, if not practical or what you would do? Thanks for any input and for the input I already got. :slight_smile:

I think that is completely possible. It may be a hassle, it may be overly complicated, it may be something I would never want to do, but it would probably work.

If you want to do that, go to town! Just keep in mind that no one said it would be easy.