ATLANTA — Actor Capture, an Atlanta-based studio that creates custom digital humans, 2D and 3D characters, animation and motion capture solutions, recently partnered with artist Cardi B to create her mini reality series Cardi Tries, which appears on Facebook's Messenger platform. Each episode of the series – which debuted back in December – sees Cardi B exploring new and unconventional activities. For a recent episode, the entertainer created a video game with the help of an Xsens MVN Animate suit.
Actor Capture technical director James Martin helped steer the creation and execution of the motion capture driven episode.
“After landing on the episode’s theme, producer Brendan Carter brought Actor Capture in to provide insight on realtime personification and motion capture,” Martin explains. “The collective conclusion was that Xsens was the most fitting solution, offering the top-shelf inertia-based technology with untethered performance we were looking for.”
The gaming installment of Cadri Tries reached a viewership of over 2.4M in just under a month. The episode invites viewers to follow the motion capture process in which the rapper and her husband Offset are filmed entering the studio, trying on the suits and creating the movement data for their video game characters. After allowing Cardi and Offset to navigate the space and get creative with their movement, the Action Capture team got to work calibrating the body bands and making the avatar production. In addition to controlling the environment, the team needed to get solid calibration and ensure none of the signal was hidden.
“The best thing about this solution is that there’s no concern around the extent of the performer or talent’s knowledge,” says Martin. “You simply hand them the suit to wear and a zipper to navigate with. In the end you’re doing everybody a favor: yourself, the production crew, the bottom line and the budget.”
In their studio experience, Cardi and Offset made use of spatial factors, producing positional data that producers used to create better input chemistry in the final rigging. After collecting the data, the Actor Capture team of game developers and designers went on to develop two video games: one, a normal combat style called “Cardi B Combat”, and the other, a third person open world called “Cardi B Quest”.
Cardi and Offset were offered a selection of premade avatars at the beginning of the video. With a primary focus on realtime animation, the team mainly turn to Character Creator for their character solutions, offering them considerable versatility for all things motion capture.
“If we integrate Character Creator with tools like Marvelous Designer, we are able to design virtual clothing,” says Martin. “All the character design aspects, facial hair, accessories, virtual clothing and so on, Character Creator provides a solid crossroads to meet our character needs. We turn to the tool for a variety of ethnicities, too. With an armoury of solutions – Xsens, Character Creator, our artists – we are confident in providing artistic digital humans that creatively capture life and its various layers and textures.”
Martin and the team previously used Xsens in the summer prior for Suicide Squad 2’s pre-production.
“We broke several records with the Xsens tools during Suicide Squad 2’s pre-production, and set industry standards with high-dynamic range performance,” Martin recalls. “We knew that for what Cardi wanted to pull off in a few hours, it would be handled very well with Xsens – the data was in good hands.”