Markerless Motion Capture Technology Plays Key Role In Bringing Past
To Life At Nine Acre Fort York National Historical Site
Nov 23rd, 2015 – History buffs who have wondered about witnessing great moments in time are one step closer thanks to Toronto-based mobile content developer AWE, that used iPi Motion Capture, the leading markerless motion capture solution developed by iPi Soft, to create a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience at the Fort York National Historic Site in Toronto. Using Google Cardboard, visitors to the nine-acre location in Toronto will be able to experience key battle scenes, military fortifications and the significant role that Fort York has played in the country’s history in a simulated, immersive 3-D environment.
“Fort York is the largest historic site in Toronto and they wanted to create a dramatic visitor experience that spanned across the entire site, both indoors and out,” explains Srinivas Krishna, AWE’s CEO and the Director of the project (produced through Krishna’s production company Divani Films, Toronto). “We created content that, when viewed on a mobile phone using Google Cardboard, immerses visitors inside a 360-degree environment that recreates historical events from different eras that occurred right where visitors are standing. It’s a fun and powerful experience.”
Perhaps most memorable is the pivotal role Fort York played during the War of 1812, when the U.S. navel ships attacked the fort, which was then under the control of the British army. To re-create that experience, along with several other noteworthy events that occurred at the site, Krishna designed a workflow that leaned heavily on iPi Motion Capture.
Krishna explained that project, which initially began three years ago, included creating animated model rigs for the multitude of characters that would be seen virtually. Built using Unity’s 3D Game engine, the character models, as well as the environments (designed to look like Fort York at the time) were animated using Maya. That content was then composited with the motion capture action sequences filmed using iPi Motion Capture, along with facial mocap data captured using Mixamo Face Plus.
“On the production side, we had a real problem because of the huge number of characters the client wanted represented,” Krishna says. “It became a challenge on many levels. We wondered how are we going to create our 3D models and use motion capture in a cost effective way. iPi Soft proved great for this type of large-scale amount of footage on a modest budget. Markerless mocap is perfect for broad strokes, and as a filmmaker I found working with it to be a marvelous creative experience.”
While it would seem historical sites like Fort York are perfect for these types of virtual reality experiences, Krishna notes that the project was a bit of a risk given that when they started Google Cardboard wasn’t yet on anyone’s radar.
“We started developing this in 2012, which actually turned out to be good timing because we were able to think creatively and implement while at the same time the ecosystem for VR was developing,” Krishna adds. “We see this as a game-changer in this arena, and I think more historical sites around the world are going to be interested in creating these types of experiences for their visitors.”
For iPi Soft’s Founder and Chief Technology Architect Michael Nikonov, the Fort York project represents yet another way innovative companies are unleashing the creative power of markerless motion capture.
“Virtual reality is the buzzword of the entertainment industry today,” Nikonov says. “That’s why it’s so encouraging to see how creative companies like AWE and Divani Films are able to harness the power of our markerless motion capture technology to produce one-of-a-kind virtual reality experiences that audiences can enjoy now.”
At AWE, their mission is to enable people to interact in ways that are new and imaginative using their mobile devices. They build new software applications and enable new experiences. Their line of Augmented World Engines™ let users fill the world with characters, stories, and amazing new ways to play and learn – and share these experiences within camera-enabled mobile devices. AWE software applications and services are based on proven technologies and methods developed in collaboration with scientists from Ryerson University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The company is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. http://awecompany.com
About Divani Films:
Founded in 1990 and headquartered in Toronto, Srinivas Krishna’s Divani Films Inc. has a twenty-year history of successfully developing, producing and selling film, television, cross-platform and other motion picture media productions. The company has produced and sold numerous hours of Canadian television, along with feature films and several shorts. Its films have screened in the official selection at Toronto, Sundance, Cannes and numerous other film festivals and have been distributed worldwide. Buyers of company productions include Alliance Atlantis, CBC, CTV, Bravo!, Movie Network, Movie Central, ARTV, Bravo!, APTN, HBO Cinemax, Channel Four, SBS Australia, Star TV Networks, Hong Kong, Strand Releasing, Wellspring Media, Icon Entertainment International and Warner Home Video. Company productions and co-productions have been supported by Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Media Fund, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Alberta Film Development Program and SaskFilm. http://divanifilms.com/
About iPi Soft:
Moscow-based developer, iPi Soft LLC, develops powerful markerless motion capture software technology that uses sophisticated image processing and computer vision algorithms to recognize and track the human body. The company’s software is used by creative professionals and prosumers around the world to digitize the movement of a human skeleton, rendering it expressive in 3D characters for video games, computer generated films, as well as for medical, military and other applications. For additional information on iPi Soft, product pricing, product configurations or a 30-day free trial please visit http://tst.ipisoft.com
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