Introduction to Motion Capture

Motion capture (MoCap) is the ability to track and record your motions and transferring the movement onto an inanimate object in order for it to recreate the same movements and bring the shell to life. The reason for why the actors are recorded rather than simply animate the object is because by using MoCap we are able to recreate realistic human movements in the most efficient way. It allows us to map parts of the face or body and place it onto the character in order to create movement. Early Motion Capture started out as a technique called Rotoscoping which was invented by Max Fleischer in 1915 and used in his series called ‘Out of the Inkwell’ although it wasn’t until 1917 he patented the idea.

Rotoscoping allowed animators to mimic realistic movements by using photographs or film as a guide when drawing characters in order to create life-like animation. Some of the most famous instances in which rotoscoping was used was within Disneys ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, but also Looney Toons, Gulliver’s Travels (1938) and even China’s first animated film which was titled ‘Princess Iron Fan’ (1941).

Rotoscoping was then taken one step further with the development of Motion Capture which was used during the 1980’s onwards. Professor Tom Calvert at Simon Fraser University decided it would be a good move to attach electronic sensors onto a body in order to track movement.

These days we are able to do a wide range of things with motion capture which within itself hold a lot of different techniques to obtain the best results. Some examples of type of motion capture include mechanical, optical, magnetic and inertial. Within this post I will discuss Mechanical and Optical motion capture, and hopefully will follow this post up with definitions of inertial and magnetic.

Mechanical motion capture is where the actor wears a basic suit which is covered in metal pieces in the style of a basic skeleton. This is also refered to as exo-skeleton motion capture. Some of the positive uses for this particular type of motion capture is that there is never any interference due to light and magnetic fields. This is because of the suit picking up the movement solely from the actors movement and the response to the sensors which are placed within the suit. Some of the disadvantages of using mechanical motion capture include instances such as in order to use this type of motion capture the actor must remain on the floor. Another disadvantage to using mechanical motion capture over other motion capture alternatives is that the equipment must be regularly be calibrated as the data sometimes shifts.

mechanical_motion_capture

Here is a video which I found while browsing YouTube of mechanical Motion Capture being used within 3dsmax.

Optical motion capture is where the actor will wear reflective dots which are tracked by cameras. This technique allows movement to be picked up through lights or LED’s which are placed on the actor’s body. The movement is then picked up through a large amount of cameras which then triangulate the data to give the movement. This information is then sent to the 3D software allowing you to animate your character. Some of the advantages of using this particular type of motion capture is that it allows the actor to feel fewer restrictions on their movement giving better results. Another advantage is that the data collected is really clear if conducted in the correct settings making animating the 3D model easier. A disadvantage of using Optical would be that other lights could interfere with your suit causing inaccurate results which would greatly effect the outcome of the project. Another issue with optical motion capture is that it is more expensive than other alternatives such as mechanical.

optical motion capture

I thought I would round this post off showing some games using optical motion capture in order to give an idea at the capabilities of what motion capture can really give to a game.

Beyond: Two Souls –

Red Faction Armageddon –

Batman: Arkham Origins –

 

 

 

 

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Flash timeline project

I thought I would keep an update of each stage I entered when developing my flash timeline. I wanted to be simplistic in regards to my timeline due to difficulty within flash.

So far within my project I have set up an action script 3.0 document and used multiple layers to develop my first scene. I made each layer last up to 30 seconds as this was an introduction so didn’t want it to last too long. We can see so far I have managed to create a button in which I converted into a symbol so that when I applied code to it, it would allow me to move onto the next scene displaying the next lot of information. Here is some of the code I have used so far for my project.

flash1

What I found useful was the ‘code snippets’ which allowed me to simply select what I wanted a section of my code to do, and not only does this tool input the code for me but it leaves a note with what that part of the code does which saves me plently of time.

My first issue is that my scene would play through and stop as instructed but my code for pressing my button to go onto the scene wasn’t working. After research I decided to alter the code for this and was able to get it running correctly again. (as shown below)

flash2

10/05/2014

Newcode

After having trouble with my code, due to reaching lots of errors and having a small amount of programming knowledge I thought it would be wise to attempt my code again giving it a clearer format and to group each part of the code with a similar functions etc. After doing this, I was able to complete my code with minimal issues (I had encountered issues with my timeline having too many layers, and accidently overlapping a text box over my button which prevented the button from working but this was something that was corrected swiftly).

History of gaming timeline: specialism

The three ‘lenses’ I was given were Aesthetics, Trends and Game Art. I thought within this blog post I would talk about these in greater detail so I can implement them within my Timeline giving a more distinctive project.

One of the trends I have noticed within gaming is the use of 3d technology. In 1973 there was a title named Maze War and could be considered one of the first ever FPS games. The game play was simple, the individual would simply walk around a maze and if seen by another player who is displayed as an eyeball, the option to shoot them would be available so you would gain points from shooting your opponent. Aesthetically this was good as during 1973 the only real graphics that were available were overlays for monitors or single moving dots.

MAze war

Following up to this another 3d title was released called Spasim which was an MMOFPS (Massively multiplayer online first person shooter) which was released in 1974 by Jim Bowery. This game was a 32 player space simulation game which was played on the PLATO computer system.. It has also been called the first MMOFPS 3D game.

In 1983 the game I,Robot was created by Dave Theurer for the Atari 2600. It is known for being the first ever commercial game to be used 3d polygon graphics and also featured flat shading. Flat shading is a technique that allows each polygon to  be shaded a particular shade when taking into account the direction of the light source. Some other systems that allowed flat shading were the Namco System 21 and the Sega Model 1. On a side note, it was also known to be the first to offer camera control options.

Skipping on a bit, the next title I want to discuss is DOOM. This game was released in 1993 and was seen at the time as life changing as it had the most amazing 3d graphics at the time.  It is also regarded as one of the most influential titles within the games industry for being so popular as a FPS in its genre. The graphics for this game at the time were regarded as realistic after adding height differences, non-perpendicular walls and had full texture mapping, with various degrees of light to give diversity to each part of the game.

Looking today at the capabilities of 3d, it is safe to say we have come rather far. We use 3d all the time for example Nintendo’s 3DS which is a hand held console that can be taken around by the user and accessible at any time. It uses autostereoscopic 3d to produce a 3d like effect on the screen which allows the user to play in 3d without the use of glasses.  We have the Playstation Vita, Playstaion 4, Xbox One and the Wii U. It is has become the normality for consoles to use or atleast offer 3d capabilities and due to technology forever advancing we have only seen the improvement of titles such as Prince of Persia dating from 1989 to its current title which was released in 2013.

 

History of gaming: 60’s 20/12/2013

Following on from my previous post, this post is a quick run through of the 60’s in order to understand what happened in the early years of game history. This is a follow up of my 50’s post.

1962 – The invention of ‘Spacewar!’ by Steve Russell. This game was a 2 player game which allowed the user to take control of a space ship, and the aim of the game is to destroy your opponent before they destroy you. The odds of being able to play this game were slim as it was only accessible at universities due to the computers being too expensive to purchase. Nearly 9 years after this, Nolan Bushnell took the idea, altered it (named computer space) and went on to create one of the world’s first coin operated game machines which gave you 90 seconds of play for a quarter.

1966 – Ralph Baer comes up with the idea for the worlds first at home game console. He wanted to create a piece of hardware which allowed users to be able to play games on their televisions. He thought games such as action games, board games and sports games would be playable on his device. The first game to be played was a sample game called ‘Corndog’ which was the first game to be displayed on a television.

1967 – The very first prototype of the ‘Brown Box’ was created which allowed users to play games such as Tennis.

1968 – Ralph Baer patents his idea and releases his video game system.

 

 

History of gaming overview: 50’s 5/12/2013

This blog post is a general overview of the history of gaming, in which I will pay particular attention to the key points in history. Although brief, this will be supported with visuals in order for you to see the build up of gaming before the point of my timeline project (My project is based around the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s).  The reason I have done this is so that you can have a reasonable understanding of the key changes in games.

1947 – A patent is filed by Thomas T. Goldsmith and Estle Ray Mann for a “Cathode rat tube amusement device”. The game created on this machine allowed the user to fire a gun at a target. Despite this invention being so iconic, it was never sold or marketed to the public. The first game for this was a missile simulation game which had been inspired by the war.

1952 – A. S. Douglass created the well known Naughts and Crosses (OXO) game on the Cambridge EDSAC Computer as part of his dissertation for Cambridge University. It never gained the success as other games because it was unplayable outside of the university as nobody owned the machine so you had to visit the university to play it. This game was considered the first to use graphics.

Here is a simulation of the EDSAC Computer running the game

1957 – Alex Bernstein, an IBM Employee, wrote the first computer chess program which allowed the computer to think four moves ahead. It was created on the last ever vacuum tube computers and took up to 8 minutes to make a move.

 

 

History of games: 90’s 20/11/2013

Some highlights of this era: Saga Saturn (1994), N64(1996), Playstation 1(1994), Gameboy colour(1998) SNES aka SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (1990) Gamegear (1992) GAMES: Pokemon red (1998) Super Mario World (1990) FFVII Final Fantasy 7 (1997) Dreamcast (1998)

The 90’s was roughly around the time when we saw the fifth gen era which consisted of 32bit and 64bit graphics but also saw the introduction to the idea of 3D graphics with titles such as Sonic 3D Blast and Super Mario 64. The element of 3D gave gaming a new alternative feel to what we were used to and allowed us to become more immersed then we previously thought was possible. From a personal experience also, the gameboy was my first game console as a child so this era was rememberable for me, although I do recall several memories with my brother playing the N64, PS1 and the Dreamcast, so from my own personal experience this was one of my most rememberable eras as it was the first time I had played Pokémon and became immersed in something.

Time Girl (1993)

Tomb Raider (1996)

The 80’s was also a time when we saw mascots being used by companies in order to link their product with the company. For example Nintendo using Mario and Sega using Sonic, we relate these characters to their company so that they become rememberable. I personally think that the 90’s gave us more aesthetically pleasing characters due to enhanced technology allowing us to create more defined, diverse characters with better graphics in order to create better visually.

 

History of gaming: 80’s 15/11/2013

Donkey Kong Duck Hunt NES Qbert SAGA SGEA MASTER
Some of the highlights for this era were the NES aka Nintendo Entertainment System (1983) SG-1000 aka Saga Game 1000 (1984) Master System (1986) and the Atari 7800 (1984) GAMES: Donkey Kong (1981) Duckhunt (1984) Q-bert (1982)

This era introduced new factor to games design which was the invention of a scrolling background which allowed games to become longer and flow a lot better. Also during this era, sprites became more defined and began to take better form then ever before. We saw hit titles such as Donkey Kong, Metroid and Megaman 2. Later on during the 80’s we saw consoles entering the fourth gen which introduced 16-bit consoles which effected graphics dramatically as it allowed additional colours to be added to create more depth. I also believe that during the 80’s we began to see better intros, outros and title screens due to the graphical enhancement. Overall, the 80’s produced some aesthetically pleasing games such as California Games (1987) and Manic Mansion (1987); and with technology changing we began to experiment more with titles such as Dragon’s Lair (1983).

While doing my research I stumbled upon this really nice video which shows you briefly some games during the 80’s and their consoles.

nes and snes sonic

Later on during the 80’s we saw consoles entering the fourth gen which introduced 16-bit consoles which effected graphics dramatically as it allowed additional colours to be added to create more depth. Looking at the comparison to the NES and the SNES graphics, you can see the advantages of having additional colour added as it gives the character more depth and just generally makes the game look miles better. This sonic game was the first installment of the sonic series and looks amazing with its scrolling backgrounds and better visuals.

History of gaming timeline research: 70’s 13/11/2013

What I found interesting during my research is that there was in fact 31 console names I discovered during the 70’s alone while in our era we only hear about 2-3 released consoles being released and being put on the market.

1972 – Magnavox Odyssey

1975 – Atari sears tele-games pong system

1975 – Magnavox Odyssey 100

1975- Magnavox Odyssey 200

1976- Coleco Telstar

1976 – Fairchild Channel F

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 300

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 400

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 500

1976 – The wonder wizard model 7702

1977 – RCA Studio II

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 2000

1977 – Atari 2600

1977 – Atari Video Pinball

1977 – Atari Student Cycle

1977 – Coleco Telstar Ranger

1977 – Coleco Telstar Alpha

1977 – Coleco Telstar Colormatic

1977 – Coleco Telstar Combat

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 3000

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 4000

1977 to 1979 – Nintendo Color TV game series

1978 – Coleco Telstar Sportsman

1978 – Coleco Telstar Colortron

1978 – Coleco Telstar Marksman

1978 – Coleco Telstar Gemini

1978 – Coleco Telstar Arcade

1978 – Bally Astrocade

1978 – Magnavox Odyssey 2

1978 – Philips Odyssey 2001

1978 – Philips Odyssey 2100

1979 – Mattel’s Intellivision

magana

The Magnavox odyssey was referred to as ‘the brown box’ during its prototyping stage and was created by Ralph Baer in 1968 but was retailed in 1972. The Magnavox odyssey had roughly around 30 games and due to graphic limitations, overlays were placed over the players TV set in order to play particular games such as baseball or cat and mouse. These overlays were provided with the console purchase. The console produced two white blocks which both players would use to play various games using particular cartridges and overlays. This was the first early example of an 8 bit console.

1 2 pepsi space invadors

The Atari was a second gen console which became available in 1977, it was a 8 bit console which the video is handled by the 1.19MHz 6607 CPU with 128 bytes of RAM. IGN claimed the Atari 2600 to be behind both the first video game boom but also the video game crash of 1983. The reason for this is because the console had some amazing titles such as Jungle hunt, space invaders and breakout. The reason it was seen to have been behind the video game crash was due to Atari putting no limitations on who could develop games for its consoles and how many games could be distributed which ended up with the market being packed with poorly made games such as Pac Man for the Atari 2600 for numerous reasons for example its lack of consideration to colour scheme which confused players as the ghosts would flicker and blend into the background.

Due to limitations at the current time, the graphical designs of the games could only be basic in comparison to what is possible now.

If we take a look at the pepsi invaders, this was a modification of the original space invaders game and was commissioned to be made for cocacola in 1983 for their sales convention. I found this interesting as it was such a rip from the original space invaders and goes to show what was being done with the atari 2600.