Motion Capture at Camera Obscura

Here at Camera Obscura we are always getting new things: shop items, staff, exhibits … the list goes on.  So, it gives me, the writer of this here blog, more than a little excitement to present our newest exhibit …

… YOU!

Yes, you.  Or rather, your skeleton.

Our new exhibit uses motion capture technology (mo-cap) to enable you to control a computer-generated skeleton.  Make it dance, make it walk, make it wave – it is up to you.

Skeleton photo - small

The Camera Obscura Skeleton Exhibit!

But what is mo-cap?  It is the buzz word in Hollywood at the moment as more films are starting to use mo-cap.

Markers are placed on a person and a computer tracks these.  Our mo-cap uses sensors rather than markers placed on the body so it is less detailed than what one can see on the big screen, but the idea is similar.  The computer then picks up the person’s movement and, voila, the computer generated image matches the actor, or dancer, or you!

Films like Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Hobbit, Tintin, and The Planet of the Apes all have been made using mo-cap.  It means an actor can play the facial expressions and movement of anything, including non-humans.

Motion Capture at Camera Obscura

Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolution of Smaug.

The best known mo-cap actor currently working is Andy Serkis.  Most famous for playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, he has since appeared as Ceasar in the Planet of the Apes films, Captain Haddock in Tintin and King Kong in King Kong.  He even advised on the emotions of Godzilla in Godzilla.

Motion Capture at Camera Obscura

Andy Serkis as Gollum

Motion Capture at Camera Obscura

(Ok, this is a vain picture but it’s me, aged 17, meeting Andy Serkis. I was wearing a replica of the ring and he saw it, did the voice and then, for the picture, did the face. You can see just how much of Gollum’s expression came from Serkis’ performance).

Computers, like Microsoft Kinnect and Nintendo Wii use a similar form of mo-cap to us, where sensors pick up movements and the computer mimics this.  Unlike mo-cap, which needs the dots for sensors, our skeleton and computer games use dot sensors which are invisible to the naked eye but can be seen on some night imagery cameras.

Motion Capture at Camera Obscura

Paranormal Activity 4

This was used to terrifying effect in Paranormal Activity 4 when the demon showed up on the night cameras as the dots moved.

Our motion sensor skeleton will not show any of the Camera Obscura’s resident ghosts, but will allow you to make a skeleton dance away.

Enjoy!

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