A marker-less desktop motion capture system was used by UK-based filmmaker/animator Ian Chisholm to create his machinima (a film made using the graphics engines from video games) epic Clear Skies III.

Chisholm, who works in IT and describes himself as “just some ordinary Joe without any background or training in film” learnt the skills required to make his films as he went along.

He used iPi Soft’s entry-level mo cap system to create character animations, which he then applied to the graphics engines of some well-known computer games. 

iPi Soft’s system accurately captures human motion data using inexpensive, off-the-shelf cameras and doesn’t require sensor suits or green screen stages.

”I started the Clear Skies series about six years ago,” says Chisholm. ”I’d just started doing some basic video work when I discovered I could use blue screening to composite video footage together.”

“I’d always wanted to tell a full story, and by using the Eve Online graphics engine for exterior space and ship shots, and the Half Life 2 engine for interior sets and characters, I managed to achieve that.”

It took Chisholm over two years to make the first instalment of Clear Skies: “I learnt everything in the Half Life 2 development kit, wrote my first script, build the sets, shot and created the film itself,” he says.

”I continually challenge myself technically and creatively, and Clear Skies III is the culmination of what I learned producing the previous two films,” he adds.

“Practically every line of dialogue and every movement was motion captured using iPi Soft. Not only was this fun, but it also raised the bar on the performances I could deliver using the Half Life 2 characters – I could add more personality and dimension to the characters, rather than be limited to the built-in gestures that come with the game.”

The mo cap system also made it possible for Chisholm to capture whole body motion and walk around in a small area and interact with items. He created "action sequences and dramatic moments – gunfights, fistfights, character interaction – that wouldn’t have been remotely possible without it,” believes Chisholm.

Staff Reporter