Motion Capture Theater

cf481f4bd4ccdfa7e6f409aaaef8e709MOCAP and THEATER

One could mocap a drummer with specific directions, but it would still have to be a drummer. There is something in the skill.

Improvisation never quite gets to skill, therein, some improvisation needs rehearsal. After that its just called an act.

A few skills dovetail with Performing an act, or being fake but convincingly real: sports, dancing, playing an instrument, soldiering…things like accounting, writing, driving, those dont really provide any leeway into physical improvisation, although writing might in enhancing speech.

This is the kind of improvisation that is useful for motion capture. When a type of specific performer who has a leeway, mocapping a carpenter actually working in the studio for instance vs. someone who can imitate those actions to fit a storyboard or otherwise clear directions.

There is a director presumed, but not just any director. Directing the further breaking down of theater is a new transition. There used to be a colorist for Technocolor.

In theater there are two directors, one who is a involver, and one who empowers. Either works but in opposite ways and one is better than the other in different occasions. Some actors like the Involver, some dont.
Directors best let independence in interpretation in theater, but less so in the old film style of directing.
Sometimes there is a cluster of actors wanting motivation allowed to experiment and actors seeking focus and practice seeking a director as administrator (although that involved, both are fun).
There is a kind of hand off art here, but it is only appropriate when appropriate, so a strong approach first, tests the social waters, and then proceeds with the idea of how to get people working.

Still, charisma is being transferred, and it is its own nature.
It might be worth an academic look at how Acting in Theater is altered, focused, broken and then specialized in Film, most obviously in stunt fighting, but then altered, focused, broken to the point that three Actors now compose the final performance: the Voice Talent, the Scene Talent and the Action Talent.

Action wise, some are usually about a week ahead, but for one week of practice is all that seperates them, and, really, they must always stay ahead. Sometimes its good to slow down but talent is half the time a gaby garrulous public figure. This is a hazard.

Anything requiring four months of practice is oftentimes to be distracted, and that is an opportunity a director needs to step in for. However, unbored, I enjoy the eventual steps and acts as work.
The new method breaks the learning curve of acting scenes into smaller, more quikcly executions, wherein, the order can then build up to a peak at which a more critical performance, the most nuanced perhaps being set up for last as the physical being in the world of the play is systematically built up.

Yet, it is only partial bits of the act, approximately one third…though Voice is probably more critical to evoke the scene talent.
Scene talent: the quotidian acts. Like suddenly cast as a drummer.

In mocap the theater is broken apart much like Film breaks theater apart. Mocap breaks it further, and then there are sub catagories and sub catagories: mocap storyboards for icon “THOR”, mocap storyboards for icon “LOKI”.

This specificity breathes improv, but improv as informed by some skill in action. This action might be an emergence from sports or dancing or playing an instrument, but main driver is Acting itself.

In Acting emerges sub catagory, a smaller unit than the first magnitude of reduction from Theater to Film, and now to Mocap, which is also delimited by Animation. Animation of animals, aliens, robots speaking as well as virtual people.

Acting is like that. One possesses the moment but in a specific place and time and circumstances.

The decorum calls for a act, and that act can be reduced most obviously into speech and action.

In Action, the actor may mouth the speech, the others might not be present, and the action might require a great deal of concentration to execute best. Not only is it that but the opportunity to perfect that action.

So, the mouthing is meant to involve the whole body in the motion but the actual words, even the line, need not be spoken aloud legibly.

Some actors would find it difficult to dampen their speech while trying to amplify the action. Amplify the action is a standard act every actor must do, but deamplifying the speech was only approachable in playing speech impaired characters (who nonetheless possess musical talent, or, if the actor were so dedicated, a atonal rendition of a speech impediment meant as sincere, yet may distract, but it not blocked out, just featured here and there enough to fade into background), or Surrealism (rare as it is) or some deliberate comic distortion.

Chaplin’s Hitler speech, is a good example.


Soon after the curtain closed, Clyde came to inform me of my tenuous continued employment as Technical Staff. Yet, they would depend upon the eventual judgment of Marcel himself, who was signing autographs.

Clyde then walked away and two men who looked like roady and accountant, approached,

“Why did you drop that weight during the performance?”

“I was clumsy.”

“Do you mock Marcel?’

“No, I think he’s marvellous. I love mime.” (I do!).

“Do you think Marcel deserves an apology, right now?”

“Yes. But I think he is busy.” I was obviously shamed enough to really not want to apologize to Marcel. I glanced around furtively.

“You may apologize to me, and I will give it to him.”

“Uh, okay. Thats the not best situation but..”

“Oh, you want to apologize in person?” Without any meaning put into it. The speaker had a very unnerving stare, and flat, objective manner.

“Well, no. Okay, please tell him I am sorry I dropped that weight.’

“And that you will never do it again?”

“And that I will never do it again.”

There was a pause. I didn’t feel it was sincere enough. One is distracted by the childlike urge to be blameless in these moments. Yet, I tried, earnestly, to sound sincere. Faking it.

“You do not sound all that sincere.”

“I mean it, its just through an intermediary…”

“It is enough. I will go tell him.” The two of them left.

I lost that position working on the curtains, but that was Marcel. I had never seen his picture.


A live concert could also be live mocaped, but it would look odd. Probably a young band would be into that…a decent band of Stadium Rock, if such still exists. A band could be directed to Mocap stadium rock, and then be directed and rehearsed, meanwhile actually composing a Arena Rock song. That can be done.

Thats the largest file, one could stage smaller bits, but these would require some skill in imagining and executing. Still employ a drummer, but the drummer might have other motion skills.

Drumming is an essential improv skill. Drumming, and dancing as well, play across a broad area of doing other thing, acting a skilled part suddenly, and not so in a way distracted enough to keep learning the other parts in the play…a carpenter or a painter or any part that requires activity, this we’d like to see.

Shooting guns and beating people up better is not part of the improvisation.

Its the quotidian action improvisation.

That deserves some elaboration, but all it is, is just the common acts; turning on the water faucet. Walking up the stairs, leaning over to pet the dog…these all contain meaning which can be altered by mere nuances. Still, there is a shorter distance to infinite in the Mocal nuanced, than in the video nuances.

Lip sync singing, a real drummer, an air guitarist. The drumline matches, but the rest is sound improvised, almost foley like, to fit into the improvised movements…practiced to be the peformance of a song.

The real drummer can do all that as a single act, see. Because the drummer has the rhythm.

So, the animator who pretends to do and the other dancer who pretends to do. You see, this works then later to be retro-fitted.

The director can break up the song into parts, so that it is not like performing an entire song. The fake concert or fake performance, with performers bewildered as to why not play the song and just video tape it all at once?

There is a sense of the cheap trick of it all that comes through despite the skilled editing.

This is partly a liberty, but then, with this tangible decline in quality of commitment to the performance, there is a switch “off”, due to a sensibility not accepting the Cheap Trick. Though they might stay with it and endure that part of the variety show, it sometimes prevents comprehension later.

And there is also the person who does not like this kind of parody yet remains interested for a length of time.

That length of time is quick and they turn away. Or, linger thinking something might turn up, or, then, go on a break, or, they change the stream.

Turning away from that parody level, we can understand what it is that the initial turning away…less a slowly turning away and more a switch:

A good example is: Barnes, the company president, is at the podium giving a speech, but what is dubbed in almost perfectly into his “lip-syncing”, is a mock voice that says “some total da fish on my finger, see? I like to beat books in the rippentrop.”

There is a parody of the Republican debates, a youtube video, wherein, the lips were used to form phrases other than the speech.

A voice talent parodied as well, the voices of the candidates. It worked.

It also is evident in the movie “Tristana”, specifically the interweaving of various dialogues, which had been mentioned in one of Wikipedia round about articles, but not the current one!

To specify to even greater detail, the dialect interplay is integral to Italian movies from the forties, a process of dubbing which continued most visibly in the Leone Westerns. Eastwood is speaking English, while other Spanish and a third language, once, (is it a Fistfull of Dollars?) Italian.

It was just part of the process, and Bunuel might have calling attention to it, because it emerges out to call attention to itself into a few scenes…a mixture of Denueve speaking French, Fernando Ray speaking Spanish, someone else speaking Italian, but they are all dubbed into English with subtitles in Spanish.

A dissonance, but curious.

Nonetheless illustrates the idea of shifting pronunciation into expressivity, sure. But, the lips dont have to match up to the sound, perfectly. This is a horrible chore in Editing.

So the idea of a stenographer using a short hand of Keys, that correspond to a specific contour of the mouth. Tyrannosaurus speech being grunting, gronking, hissing, clicking…he has a tongue, but then a conventional insertion of a voice which matches the Tryrannosaurus. Might even be worth modifying here and there in accuracy, in order to create a harmonizies undertone…distracting here and being of more symbolic effect there…you know?

So, this keyboard presses a Tyrannosaurus syllable, which does two things;

1. It causes a movement in the speech areas of the model to modify up into a pronunciation, and then down into stasis. Also, it connects the sound of the pronunciation, also in a made up Tyrannosaurus language.

Furthermore, it is done by the stenographer to rhythmically and melodically correspond to the voice talents execution of the lines in the script.

This is just the rough draft, in the edit by the animator there is pausing, modifying some of the keyframes to match more demonstrative facial expressions. Those expression then fitting into the posture of the head that changes while speaking…this being a great source of comedy.

How to make the Tyrannosaurus pronunciation indicative to how the TR mouth would move to pronounce words, is too literal. The point is to emulate by typing the mouth’s expressions to the speech of the actor. The secondary effects, of creating Tyro speech…the gronks, grumbles, clicks and fricatives of speech…this is perhaps only to be used a few times, However, once its created its just a manner of turning on a switch and having it go to work.

So…it has to exist, this connection. No need to just do it once, having set a standard of Tyro speech is functional for other formatting.

A shorthand of pronunciation of syllables as there is a shorthand in animation of certain postures of the lips to form sounds.

TR’s have no lips, but, in this case slight ribbons of lips encirlce their longish jaws…they can have lips that function like human lips yet, this functioning must be established first, in its own unique pronunciations. For instance:

A long sound that progresses around the mouth, humans can do it by starting with a word on one side of the mouth and moving that word to end at the other side of the mouth. Tyro does this and its epic.

So, its a pronunciation key stroke with a long decay.

That is the first designation, and this moves not preternaturally fast, but skillfully fast in pronouncing a certain sound otherwise unpronouncable by the Tyranno, for instance “B(ee)” and “V(ee)”

The letters which use open and closed lips are :B, F, M, P, V, W, and Y (a pucker).

Do the letter F. That has a frontal closure, an overbite even, on the pronunication. The TR should be able to make an overbite.

Or, this can be mimicked by the TR with “lips” (really, just a ribbon of around the mouth, top more pliable than bottom).

Much greater physical expression is available not pronouncing English accurately, but instead, using approximate facial and vocal strenuations to simulate as a performance of timing by a talent.

How would a TR talk given their anatomy? Its not a scientific question, but a opportunity to invent, maybe a more reptilian pronunciation, beyond the over used hisses and thisses and grrrsss. Pops and snaps of a Crocodile require more demonstrative action, and could be minimized, or, otherwise left for occasional uses.

So, each rig should reflect the skeleton of the person. Is a skeleton available? You know, bent legs…etc. This is design length and diminsions of the rig as well.

It sounds like an extra step, first and foremost research. yet, if just creating it means the establishing of a standard, a standard which can first be drown improvisationally from the internet and without seeming to be worthy of a precedent, used as the standard thereafter.

So, for Character Dagwood, its the skeleton of Richard the third.

This might be more just constraint in the joint movement as well.

So, the research of the motion elements seems an extra step. But its mainly archeaological data which is easily drawn off the web.


Heads with just hands below, fully conscious, commanding magical technology, and moving like spiders among “the web”?

So, where they stop, that is a node of reference, and they just speak that. Yet, not without personality.

Still, the horrific spider heads are using fingers, macabrely, to speak out, to all others, over a widespread area, like bird calls, other wise obscured by the column of intersecting tunnels of spider webbing. Multiple voices, but we follow one scurrying head, which pauses, yells out (perfectly in sycnc…they never speak over one another…) Preferential roles amongst the egg carriers are: runner, medical aide, escapee.”

Then it moves, typing with its fingers, along the web to another area. The speed is preternaturally fast and they go whipping by each other but there is never an accident.

Freezing fast, that is, the fingers snag web, and the head waggles all the way to bounce off the web, waggle back to almost bounce off the opposite direction. Still, they recite their lines while balancing this floppy way…even sideways the webbing and grip result in a sideways head…for the fingers reach deep into the webbing and cantilevers.


There is a way of cutting on an Ozu “vase”.  A “vase”, as the word is a proxy for perhaps a dead butterfly, a still life with plums, wind outside  window blowing snow, etc.

Anything quotidian, in the scene.

This is, to naturally imitate, in the motion of the animated camera, a look away, which both begins…as in a glancing up from looking down, or, cutting into the moment the look is in moving at the least speed to settle eye to eye…then the whole of the stream stays here, another stream the other eyes viewing the character, wherien, the scene ends, the other character looks away, and cutting back to the perspective of the motion of looking up, that POV, then looks down.

These pause, both by plan, on a object. The pause can be a range of speeds…compensating for jumps from stream to stream wherein, alignment is idealized by some higher order edit rule.

This is similar to the program automatically increasing or decreasing the frames per second to also align the cut between streams to accord with the edit rule.

As do fades and other transitions.

These self insert, default, but also according to a design.

It is possible the Editor, or interactive designer go through each stream and where the scene cut, or when the shot reverse shot occur, insert these devices to creating transitions.

Installing the look before and look away technique is also after a review of the scripts, wherein, scenes whose alignment are merely approximate…that is, the ambiguity in the production of either, which is to be consciously reduced by methods, nontheless results in the timing between the alignment to have a measurable chaos.

And this can be left to itself, for the programming can insert particular pre programmed transitions…wherein, the scrips, having consciously lined up, are also specifically enhancing the effect of double or triple streaming…perhaps three out of the five streams are streaming from different perspectives into the same location and time…a single scene wherein the streamee can, if they want, switch around inside of.

Kinda of a game. It would have an automatic cut sequence…or, it would be slightly faulty, and in that the viewer could set it free of being its own pre-grammed cut sequence, and toggle around the camera views.

To jump to another stream for awhile.

Following one character in, toggling around three characters points of view, and then setting the toggle to another character, and following them out.

The idea is the action of each scene is expanded, to have handles in effect, wherein the actor or animated figure has this moment before hand and moment afterwards, not scripted, but that are, I dunno, from the infinite I’d pull, smoking a cigarette before the scene, then putting it out, entering the scene…

Then when leaving, traveling down an elevator, and stepping out of the elevator into a lobby.

The fun thing is that the lobby can be randomized!


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