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James Steven Beverly

ACTAUAL camera for shooting hand-held animation.

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I was watching Science in the Movies and saw something amazing. Apperently Sony Pictures Imageworks created a camera that allows a real cameraman to shoot in a virtual world! The movie is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs-2009, a 3d animation pic about a guy who invents a machine that turns water into food. The camera which is a converted Sony camcorder from the 70s is set up to "see" the virtual world the animators have created. The zoom, focus and all other functions work in relation to the virtual world.


The ceiling of the room in which the camera is used is fitted with sensors to triangulate the camera's position in all three axis to with in one mm. The camera can then be used to "film" the existing animation and can even electronically "cue" the virtual actors. The camera is cabled so the cameraman can walk, run and move in any direction allowing him to move naturally through the virtual world, following the action as it unfolds and recording the camera's movement so as to give a perfectly realistic feel to the hand-held shots. It's really an amazing piece of technology. I wonder if it will give rise to more work for our human camera people. That could create some very interesting animation techniques. :)

Edited by James Steven Beverly

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I think SPI used this on Surfs Up - there is a behind the scenes featurette about it on the DVD. Weta used a similar technique on Lord of the Rings, but they just stuck tracking markers on a couple of pieces of wood to represent the camera - the 'camera' view was outputted to a pair of VR googles worn by the director, now days I reckon a small LCD monitor would do the trick. ILM used an accelerometer to do the 'handheld' virtual camera movements. You can also use a Wiimote to do the same thing, I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a way to do it with the iPhone.

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There is a company called Gamecaster which covers first person shooter tournaments like you would a sporting event. They've come up with a setup (that they had on display at Siggraph) which allows you to operate a virtual camera - handheld, tripod, I'm guessing you could rig it up to anything. http://www.gamecaster.com/news/GCS3-Revolu...Camera-Control-


Skip to about 2:40 for the bit where they discuss camera operating in a video game...



It's rental only and quite expensive ($500 a day, 1 month minimum) which I think is going to limit it's use. For VFX where they might want to add some realistic camera movement to a shot or it'd be much easier to film the movement using a video camera, matchmove the shot and then apply that tracked movement to the CG camera.

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