NEW YORK – Sixteen-year-old studio QuietMan has adapted to industry change over the years. Once strictly a visual effects house, the facility moved into smaller space approximately five years ago, reduced the number of full-time staffers and expanded its services into editorial, production, and more recently, motion capture.
QuietMan is headed by Johnnie Semerad, its founder, creative director and lead Flame artist. The studio is home to Mac-based editing systems running Final Cut Pro, as well as five Flame/Inferno systems, numerous After Effects seats, and PCs running Softimage. Motion-capture services were added several years ago as a way to cost-effectively extend the services it offers to clients either in a postproduction workflow or in a live-production environment. QuietMan’s setup is based on proprietary technology combined with a suit employing gyro sensors and fiber-optic connections.
The studio’s specialty is commercial work, and when Post/CGW caught up with Semerad and executive producer Carey Gattyan, the team was in the middle of a mocap session for a leading insurance provider. In fact, Semerad was acting as the motion-capture talent, wearing a sensor-covered suit and playing the role of an animated elderly man, who, when complete later this month, will appear on the provider’s Web site.
IMAGE: QuietMan's Johnnie Semerad in the mocap suit. The pads under his arms are designed
to limit motion that may interfere with the animated character's portly body. A monitor provides
reference nearby, while clients can see results in real time on the larger screen.
Gattyan noted the savings that would be realized by using the motion-capture setup for this job in particular. The Web video is to run three minutes in length, and, in theory, the motion required for the character — getting in and out of a car, or walking through a house — could be captured in real time. Realistically though, the actions would be captured in short stretches and then seamed together. Still, the process for acquiring the three-minutes worth of motion could be achieved in one morning session at QuietMan, as opposed to several days of keyframing. The setup is portable enough to take on location, too, and doesn’t require special lighting or a calibrated volume.
QuietMan has even used it in live-production scenarios, including a Valentine’s Day promotion with M&Ms featuring Ms. Green. The candy company’s female character interacted live with different news hosts, detailing why her color goes well with the February holiday.