“Not that long ago the only filmmaker who got to do this was James Cameron when he made Avatar!”
Jeff Scheetz, Creator
NASA SEALS – Previz Plus with iClone & Perception Neuron
The movie is about a team of Navy Seals and Nasa astronauts working together to rescue the survivors of an alien attack the first major space station.
Monkey Chow Productions utilized iClone, 3DXchange and Perception Neuron to animate a scene from their feature length screenplay for NASA Seals. Jeff Scheetz, creator of the story and head of Monkey Chow incorporated Reallusion and Notiom tools to previz a full scene with real-time animation and motion capture combined in a process Jeff calls, Previz Plus.
Previsualization is simply creating simplified animation to work out all the options and problems before creating very expensive production. So while we don’t have the budget to do $80,000,000 Dreamworks movie, we can get going on the previz.
To speed things up and keep cost down we found two new technologies that are very useful in this effort: Perception Neuron & iClone
Perception Neuron: a motion capture suit that you can use anywhere. Whenever we need to do quick mocap, one of us gets into a suit in less than 4 minutes. We do a quick calibration and were recording!
iClone: a 3D animation package that uses game engine technology to produce great images in real time. It has advanced feature physics based rendering. At a click of button, you can see light bounce of your object and create real world shadows, reflections on metal surfaces, even refraction in glass! It handles normal maps and image based lighting and HDRI’s.
iClone also has some very cool animation tools like voice recognition.
One you set up your characters, you can feed in the dialog track and it does a great first pass at character lip sync.
You can buy thousands of assets made by the iClone community or bring in your own work. The cool part is once they are in iClone, everything is interchangeable. Wanna see a differ character do the same animation? Click and you’re there! Even the lip sync!
What get’s really cool is you can use Perception Neuron and Iclone together!
They have a plug in so you can see the animation you are recording in your environment at the same time. It’s not just dot’s or skeletons on the screen you can see how the characters interact with each other and the environment in real time.
One of my favorite features is the iClone camera switcher. Our workflow is to start with the action. I’ll block out a scene, in mocap and position several cameras to cover it. I then bring in set pieces and position everything to work in the camera views. I can build my edit in iClone by cutting back and forth between different cameras. If I move a prop to accommodate one shot, I can see how it looks in the other views right away.
About Monkey Chow Productions
Created by the founders of The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) at Universal Studios Florida. Monkey Chow provides cutting edge computer animation for commercials, presentations, pre-visualization, simulation, theme park media and more!