August 6, 2016 - Animatrik Film Design specializes in motion capture, pre-visualization and virtual cinematography services for clients in film, television and gaming. Based in Vancouver since 2001, Animatrik has worked with some of the biggest studios and developers, most recently on “Warcraft,” “Chappie,” “Elysium,” “Gears of War,” “Heroes Reborn,” and “American Sniper.” As part of their motion capture (mocap) and virtual camera workflow, Animatrik relies on AJA’s Ki Pro family of digital recorders to grab video for both on-stage and remote location shoots.
“We have a collection of Ki Pro products that we use to record video from an average of five cameras per mocap shoot,” said Brett Ineson, Founder, Animatrik. “They're easy to set up if we need to go on location, and in studio the Ki Pros output files over the network and are ingested directly onto our servers. We’ve been using these products every day for at least five years and have never had a failure in that time.”
In a mocap shoot, performance data is derived from a live actor outfitted with reflective markers that are tracked by a series of cameras positioned around a stage. This process often involves the use of a virtual camera, a system that maps performance data onto CG characters within a scene so that a director can frame shots and preview camera passes as they would appear once various creative assets have been composited together. The mocap process relies heavily on reliable video captured from multiple angles of shoot so that digital artists have accurate reference footage when mapping and refining performance data onto digital characters.
Ki Pro Racks and Ki Pro Minis are used anytime Animatrik needs to capture video, and they’re set up as slaves to their OptiTrack and Vicon motion capture systems set up on stage or on location. “When we set up a new motion capture take, we send a UDP packet to the Ki Pros, give them a file name and tell them to hit record so that all of the data is in sync. We typically have Ki Pro products recording off of two or three reference video cameras, our virtual camera signal and oftentimes also wireless signals coming off of head-mounted cams.”
“We really like Ki Pro because each signal can be run to a separate box, which is a great way to prevent recording failures, and they support a range of formats, whether we’re shooting in 24 or 30fps,” continued Ineson. “The devices are all small and portable, so we can get them anywhere—and if we ever have multiple shoots and need extras, every rental house has them.”
Animatrik saves time on set by having their Ki Pros integrated into their media pipeline via Python scripting, so that their network pulls data directly off of the Ki Pros without any human interaction. They can also trigger and name files during motion capture shoots without a dedicated operator. Signals are recorded in Pro Res over the network protocol, and automatically converted into H.264 to upload to a Shotgun production management pipeline and to send to clients. The footage is almost exclusively used as reference for artists, though oftentimes, signals coming off of head-mounted cameras might also get used in the tracking pipeline.
About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of video interface technologies, converters, digital video recording solutions and professional cameras, bringing high-quality, cost-effective products to the professional, broadcast and post-production markets. AJA products are designed and manufactured at our facilities in Grass Valley, California, and sold through an extensive sales channel of resellers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website at www.aja.com.