Life in Vicon Support is never like reading a book from start to finish. It’s more like a choose your own adventure book. Who doesn’t like an adventure?
Part of what makes our jobs so interesting is not just the day to day activities that are required of us, but also the projects that come out of left-field.
Let’s not forget, we do feel somewhat lucky anyway; we have an intellectually stimulating and diverse set of motion capture applications to support. But also, it’s not only working at a PC in an office; we are kept on our toes, in some ways literally.
Let’s break a record!
The Guinness World Record (GWR) adventure started with a question from the head of our Sales and Marketing team, Andy Ray: “How do we showcase the power of our Blade software?”
The well accepted opinion is that it produces ‘great real-time results’. This is something close to my heart, having spent many months personally testing this aspect of the product up to the release of Blade 2.0 in 2012.
His follow-up question was: “And how many people can we capture at the same time?”
To which we answer, sucking teeth like a builder assessing how much you really want to extend your house: “Well, how many people do you want?”
We are unlikely to get a request from a customer or prospect to show real-time previz for 16 actors. However, this ended up as our target after establishing that:
- There was no official Guinness Record
- There was an unofficial record of 15 actors listed on the Motion Capture Society website
This was not an easy task logistically for a start. Getting our own schedules, those of our colleagues at Audiomotion Studios plus the required number of bodies to participate was a bit like getting the planets to align.
We needed to get something ‘interesting’ to capture as well. Something better than one of the tests we did at least… I’m confident that the world does not need to see a bunch of faithful Vicon and Audiomotion staff dancing to Apache (Jump on it!) by the Sugar Hill Gang.
Although one thing you could say about the Vicon/Audiomotion test subjects; they knew what not to do on a mocap shoot.
We certainly gave ourselves a ‘challenge’ by choosing two crews of breakers from Wolverhampton and Sheffield, dutifully arranged by Martin Jones from the UK Hip Hop Heritage Archives Project.
These dancers were incredible, so energetic and true to their art form. Of course they are also true athletes; they are aware of nutrition and treating their bodies well so they can keep dancing for longer in battle and longer in life.
With mocap, it’s often true to say there is a fair bit of waiting around. Especially when 16 people have to get markers attached to suits, perform a range of motion and then have a skeleton calibrated for real-time capture.
Waiting around meant warm-up time to these guys.
For the anxious mocap assistants for the day, this meant watching those perfectly placed and pristine markers get scratched, squashed, swapped and snapped off.
Still, we like a challenge. And so does Blade.
The rest is history. We smashed our target of 16 and we are now officially the record holders at 19 people for the most people motion captured in real-time.
Although that’s not the end of it. We actually managed to achieve 20 people.
You can’t blame an 8 year old b-boy for taking his gloves off at the wrong time. This, added to the fact that he was the first to complete his range of motion and had spent the longest time ‘warming up’.
So I’ll sign off with many thanks to the crews. In no particular order: Bro Lee, Silence, Chris Koob, Sunny, Kidd Ronin, Havoc, Leroy, Raff, Choc, Joiner, Premiere, Kevin, Jago, Jam Fu, Steven, Footloose, Jazzi P, Hayley, Rhea and not forgetting Kiaro.
Kiaro may have missed out on being number 20, but this is a clip of the little star.