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Luma Pictures Animates “Underworld: Awakening” Über Lycan with OptiTrack Motion Capture System

Optical Mocap Set-up Used by “Underworld: Awakening” Animation Team and Directors as a Previs and Animation Tool; Behind the Scenes Video Just Released

CORVALLIS, Oregon—April 3, 2012—Translating concept art and storyboards into the animated mannerisms of a larger-than-life CG monster is challenging for even the most talented animators. Luma Pictures – the team responsible for character development, animation, and film VFX for the Über Lycan in “Underworld: Awakening” – addressed this challenge with the assistance of an OptiTrack motion capture system, installed on-site at their Santa Monica studio.

Luma’s animators utilized their OptiTrack system to record the movements of actor Kris Holden-Reid, as he brought the film’s most notorious creature, the Über Lycan, to life. Mocap was employed both to fine-tune performance points during previs and quickly create realistic reference animations that could be used as starting points for the final keyframing process. As Luma prototyped character animation and virtual cinematography alongside the film’s directorial team, new ideas could be fleshed out in real-time and then baked onto a character’s control rig for further post-animation in Maya. A just-released short was created by Filter Foundry to document this process and can be seen here on OptiTrack’s website.

One of the film’s most high-profile shots, in which Quint Lane (Holden-Reid’s human character) violently transforms into a 13 ft. werewolf, was captured using 12 OptiTrack S250e cameras and a 24’ × 24’ stage designed specifically for the project. Observing the data as it was retargeted in MotionBuilder, in real-time, enabled the team to immediately identify the movements that could be most convincingly translated into the final transformation sequence.

“OptiTrack data gives our team the freedom to experiment and iterate on our ideas quickly,” said Steven Swanson, Visual Effects Producer for Luma Pictures. “With mocap at our disposal, our ability to make decisions on final direction and export animator-ready scenes to our team has accelerated significantly. The system has already proven itself and this is only our first project with it.”

Besides being able to track nuanced actor performances with convincing realism, Luma required a mocap platform that could be easily incorporated into their existing ecosystem. “It had to be a system that was simple to set-up and pipe into MotionBuilder and Maya,” added Swanson. “OptiTrack fulfilled this need and gave us a quality of output that would keep pace with the most demanding of film projects.”

“Underworld: Awakening” is the fourth film in the popular vampire-werewolf saga. The films depict an on-going war between vampires and Lycans, usually through the character of Selene (Kate Beckinsale). “Underworld: Awakening” was the first film of the series to be presented in 3D and was released on January 20, 2012.

About OptiTrack

OptiTrack™ is the largest motion capture provider in the world, offering high-performance optical tracking at the most affordable prices in the industry. The OptiTrack product line includes motion capture software and high-speed tracking cameras, as well as contract engineering services. Used by facilities worldwide in a variety of markets ranging from film and games to sports training and biomechanics, OptiTrack customers include Luma Pictures, Microsoft Game Studios, Proof, Halon Entertainment, The Moving Picture Company, Audiomotion Studios, Rockstar, nvizage, Electronic Arts, Animatrik and other top studios and developers around the world.

About Luma Pictures

Founded in 2002, Luma Pictures is a full service visual effects facility located in Santa Monica, California. The company is staffed by a phenomenal team of artists and consistently produces groundbreaking, artistically exceptional work which can be seen in over 60 films including: “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Green Hornet,” “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and all four films in the “Underworld” series. Luma has also worked with the Coen Brothers on four films including “True Grit,” and “No Country for Old Men,” the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 2007.

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