In order for CG elements to be correctly incorporated into a live-action scene, the position of the camera that originally shot the scene must be identified. Match moving programs do so by zeroing in on certain features that hold constant over a series of frames, but up until now a human being has been required to identify and label those features. Boujou, however, automatically identifies in 3D thousands of features that occur along each frame. "These could be things we wouldn't necessarily even notice," says 2d3 CEO Chris Steele, "like a spot on the ground or bits of bushes." Using these features, the software then creates 3D tracks, all the while winnowing out anomalous markers and reducing the numbers to the fewest necessary. It then outputs the camera tracking data to a Maya, 3D Studio Max, or ASCII file that animators can put to immediate use. (Output capability to Softimage XSI is in the works.)
2d3 has already been successfully tested with stock footage, says Steele, about which the company obviously had no knowledge of camera position. The process takes less than a minute per frame, or about an hour and a half for a four-second sequence. This represents a huge advance over traditional match-moving, which could require days or weeks for the four-second sequence.
"This [match moving] is a high-risk and expensive process at the moment," says Steele, one largely confined to production houses with deep pockets. With the automation provided by Boujou, he expects that smaller production houses will be able to use this technique as well.
A Pentium III-based PC and Microsoft Windows NT are required to run Boujou. An optional processing engine is available for Unix platforms. Boujou is scheduled to ship later this year. A price has not yet been announced.
(2d3; Oxford, UK; www.2d3.com)