Barbie Vlog Series, 3D Animation in Real Time

Barbie Vlog animation series uses advanced motion-capture animation technology to record and display 3D animation in real time

By Robin Rowe

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Gosh!TV) 2016/9/3 – Mattel is using new, real-time, motion-capture animation technology to produce the Barbie Vlog series:

For Barbie Vlog, live actors wearing leotards are converted into an animated cartoon in real time. The same technology is being used by other productions to create AAA games or to measure the performance of star athletes by capturing their motion into 3D models.

This Call of Duty clip demonstrates how this technology, using 200 fixed cameras on a bare sound stage, makes a live actor into an animated character:

The animation is displayed live on virtual cameras and playback monitors on the sound stage. Unlike previous mo-cap systems, the director can see what the finished animation looks like as the actor performs it. Unreal Engine 4, a game engine animation technology, is used to render the animation live.

Autodesk MotionBuilder is used to save the motion-capture. Having the performance recorded in MotionBuilder in 3D means it can be adjusted later by an animator if changes to a cartoon actor’s performance are desired. Or, since the director can see the animation on stage, shooting another take may be better.

Motion-capture use in animation is increasing. For big-budget animated feature films like Disney Frozen or DreamWorks Animation Kung Fu Panda 3, more than fifty animators handle the laborious creative process of making 3D characters move. An alternative approach is motion-capture, to have computers record the motion of live performers in 3D. Mo-cap was used to animate Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Traditional mo-cap still may take weeks or months of post-production, that the raw animation has to be retouched and takes a long time to render.

Robin Rowe is an editor, futurist and innovator. He created the animation pipeline described in this article.

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