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VICON Motion Capture Drives SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater

Producers create motion capture-driven interactive "Pre-Show" (August 09, 2004)

VICON, the leading developer of motion capture systems, announced that its optical motion tracking technology has been a driving force in the production of the 2004 SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater, an elite showcase of the animation and visual effects community's most innovative work and a highlight of the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference. Tipping the hat to a banner year in the motion capture field, SIGGRAPH producers based out of the Media Research Lab at New York University (NYU) are staging a large-scale audio-visual experiment that incorporates ultra-high-resolution VICON cameras, audience interaction and some of the largest motion capture markers on Earth. SIGGRAPH attendees will experience the installation and participate live in the process of producing digital content with VICON in real time during a special "pre-show" at each Electronic Theater screening.

The motion capture theme continues in more than 80 teaser-openers and interstitials, produced for the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater and SIGGRAPH Animation Theater this year featuring comedic mini-skits derived via VICON motion capture of several professional acting teams. Outstanding achievement in motion capture across the industry is also echoed in a record number of Electronic Theater and Animation Theater submissions that incorporate animation or effects developed using VICON.

"2004 is the year of motion capture. It's been at the crux of an astounding array of advancements in the last 12 months, and you'll see this fittingly reflected at SIGGRAPH both in the number of Electronic Theater and Animation Theater selections that have pushed the bounds of motion capture to complete stunning work, and in the interactive 'pre-show' we've designed for the Electronic Theater to encircle the audience in a live motion capture session," said Chris Bregler, SIGGRAPH 2004 Electronic Theater chair and head of the Movement Group at the Media Research Lab in NYU's Department of Computer Science. "VICON has blazed the trail in the advancement and adoption of motion capture in entertainment, so, like so many other 3D content producers, we were happy to have had access to VICON's tools."

The "pre-show" installation will utilize the full capacity of the Los Angeles Convention Center's Hall K, a space retro-fitted to accommodate approximately 4200 viewers for five Electronic Theater showings August 9 through 11. Up to 24 high-speed, high-resolution VICON MCam2 cameras, arrayed on a catwalk, will create a capture volume 250-by-250 feet wide and three-and-a-half stories high one of the world's largest. Colossal three-foot balls the size of weather balloons, made from retro-reflective fabric and trackable by way of this specialized fabric and the hyper-accuracy of the VICON cameras, will enable the audience to collectively trigger different sound and visual effects on-screen by bouncing and tossing these giant markers.

"This is motion capture on the largest of scales; producing it really gave us a kind of 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' feeling," Bregler said. "Everything had to be bigger from the tracking markers right to the 30-foot-high wand and golf cart it required to properly calibrate such a huge parameter of space. But we viewed it as a way to bring home a concept that has become vital for today's computer graphics and provide some entertainment along the way."

2004 SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater show producer Sally Rosenthal added: "SIGGRAPH makes such wonderful experiments possible. Each year, the show offers a window into the trends and true pulse of the industry. In 2004, it's clear that one of the most prevalent developments is motion capture."

The Electronic Theater and Animation Theater installation and interstitials were produced with cooperation of ITP, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, and Parsons School of Design. Companies lending equipment and expertise in addition to VICON include Cycling '74, NVIDIA Corporation and Apple Computer. NYU worked with Curious Pictures and producers Damon Ciarelli and Boo Wong to create 31 opening and title animations for the Electronic Theater and 50 animated title sequences for the Animation Theater. Two comedy troupes donned motion capture suits, enabling their performances to be recorded with NYU's VICON system for seamless translation of motion information to each animated segment. With as many as three actors captured simultaneously in over 120 different activities, NYU maximized VICON's iQ software to speed the production of pristine motion capture data that could be immediately applied to the CG.

A considerable number of SIGGRAPH 2004 Electronic Theater and Animation Theater selections incorporate motion capture work. Many feature motion capture using VICON, including Sony Pictures Imageworks' Spider-Man 2 and The Polar Express and Robot Communications' Onimusha 3.

Focused on motion capture research and projects in such fields as computer science, dance, performance art, animation and medicine, the Movement Group, housed at NYU's Courant Institute, is a long-time VICON customer and owns its own 10-camera VICON system.

VICON was founded in 1984 and celebrates its 20th anniversary at SIGGRAPH 2004. The company recently debuted its new VICON MX line, a major evolutionary step in motion capture that revolutionizes the quality, flexibility and ease with which motion capture data can be applied to real-time and off-line applications in film, television, video games, virtual prototyping, scientific visualization, biomechanical analysis and more. VICON MX offers high-frame-rate, four-million pixel capture along with on-camera VICON proprietary real-time image processing with its flagship VICON MX40 camera. Ultra-high-resolution, virtually artifact-free capture with 2352x1728 pixels and up to 166 frames per second ensures superior performance for simultaneous high-resolution facial, foot, hand and body capture. Please visit VICON at SIGGRAPH Booth #1346 for a demonstration and further details.

VICON Motion Systems is a subsidiary of OMG plc (LSE: OMG) with global headquarters in Oxford, UK, and US headquarters in Lake Forest, CA. OMG subsidiary 2d3 Ltd. produces innovative visual geometry software deriving 3D data from moving images. Since 1984, VICON has been providing professionals with the latest tools to accurately capture the subtleties of three-dimensional human motion for research, medicine, sport, engineering, game development, broadcast and film. For more information about VICON, or to view a comprehensive list of worldwide distributors, visit or contact +44 (0) 1865-261800 in the UK or (949) 472-9140 in the US.


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Related Keywords:VICON, Motion Capture, SIGGRAPH, Electronic Theater, Media Research Lab, NYU, Chris Bregler, Sally Rosenthal, Cycling 74, NVIDIA, Apple, Curious Pictures, Damon Ciarelli, Boo Wong, iQ, VICON MX, VICON MX40, OMG,


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