„Mike Tyson“ is a computer animated short film, which alludes to Disney’s and Pixar’s „Monsters, Inc.“, featuring the one-eyed monster Mike Wazowski. The character animation has mostly been done by motion capturing.
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Mike walks along the corridor of his workplace, and notices a poster showing the „monster of the month“, who is beefy and handsome. Looking at his limb arms, he’s greeved by his weakness, but then sees another poster which advertises the companies new fitness room and promises sexy muscles in three days. Next, we see him operating an interface to choose the size of the punching bag. He boldly decides for the biggest size, but when it is moved into his room, he is somehow baffled by how large it really is. Anyway, he gets ready and warms up, then punches it is hard as he can. The bag seems not to move at all, until he gathers all his powers and knocks the bag out of the view. He’s pride as can be, but as you know, pride goes before fall…
Motion Capture Technology
The character and scene have been modelled in Autodesk Maya, and animated with a chain of software tools. Before that, a motion actor, dressed in a special suit, has performed every of Mikes movements, and was filmed by 6 high speed infrared cameras from different directions. Those cameras only have eysed for the tiny silver balls on the surface of the suit, and thus deliver black pictures with some white dots. Natural Point Arena was used to interpret those six videostreams into a three-dimensional point cloud and map it onto a humanoid default puppet, which was done in real time to check if every movement is properly recognized by the system. The puppets movements were later exported into Autodesk Motion Builder and mapped onto Mike, who has no separation between body and head, and therefor needed special skeleton contraints. Even though, many days of manual fine tuning the movements were needed. Finally, Mikes movements could be loaded into Maya, so he could be placed into the room and finally rendered into the video.
Modelling and shading
Of course, we had no access to the geometry used by Pixar in their original movie, so we had to remodel everything from scratch. To create a relatively high degree of realism, several lighting technoligies (final gather, global illumination, physical sky simulation, high dynamic range rendering, post production glow, manual gamma correction, soft raytrace shadows, point-, area- and spot-lights…) have been combined.
Early production samples
This image features images from the film at various production stages. From left to right, they are:
- Original Pixar movie
- Playblast pre-visualisation
- First rendering
- Final rendering and grading
Additionally, there are some early videos available. The upper one shows the first attempt to attach captured motions onto a custom built character. This test has been done before our own motion caputing took place, and luckily the system vendor supplied some test motion data which featured two boxers. We could apply it to a very simple Mike model, and archive a rather weird looking result. It looked ugly, but essentially justified our decision.
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The following video has been created one month before the final film was finished. It still contains some scenes which were later deleted, and slighly different camera positioning.
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