Music Video Project Update

Well, I’m behind. Not that anyone’s noticed, but the deadline for April’s music video, number four, was two weeks ago. What has happened? I’ll blame a virus for one of those weeks. It’s a nasty one. But here’s what else is going on.

This video uses a lot of new techniques I’m working out, specifically ones that work with the Microsoft Kinect. As you may know, Kinect is a videogame camera that follows your movements and sends them to the game software. A lot of people have been hacking the Kinect to do cheap motion capture.

That process is, right now, eluding me. 3D motion capture seems to be pretty easy using the Brekel Suite. I can apply that to all kinds of models. But as you may have noticed, I’m not much of a 3D animator. Also fine if you want to make human-sized human things move.

This is the size and ratio of a Kinect skeleton.

2D is a bit more complicated. I’ve had lots of success with Animata, an open-source Hungarian package that does real-time animation with the Kinect. The only problem is that, once again, all these tools are made by computer people, not cartoonists. Only human-proportioned characters are possible. My attempts to slot in non-human shaped things results in squishes and squeezes that are pretty unattractive.

This bear, for example, has probably got a skeleton that looks like this:

You can see how that totally does not match the standard Kinect skeleton above. So getting Kinect motion capture to work with 2D means only designing characters with human-like – or more correctly – Kinect-skeleton-like physiques.

Fortunately Animata can also be used with Open Sound Control (OSC) messages. That enables me to use music tracks triggering MIDI events to drive characters like this one:

Of course it takes some complicated rigging:

But now I have a duck who seems to play that sax. Driving this is a music composition in Logic sending out MIDI over a server to my Macbook. Why? Because Animata is intel only, and as you may know, I’m still stuck on my ancient G5 PPC machine because Apple has not made a new workstation in two years. So I have to use the G5 to drive Animata on the laptop. Anyway, the laptop receives the MIDI signals, directs them via Osculator (well worth buying) and sends them to Animata.

You can see how this is going. I’ve got some fabulous new techniques and, once developed, they enable me to animate some fairly complicated things quite easily and quickly. The problem is still getting the Kinect to translate the boring human-like movements of a boring human being into the stylized form of a cartoon.

Imagine the nightmare trying to get THIS guy worked out.

This is all a way of saying that though I’ve blown my deadline, I’m still working as hard as I can, I hope to catch up, and you’re going to love this next one.

Up next: “Action Hot Dog” by The Ignorance Team.

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