Live Mocap Link from London to Montreal Helps Artists Produce a Digital Crowd in Less Than a Day
A crash landing, a bruised hero, a crowd about to swarm. For Framestore, Blade Runner 2049’s thrilling Trash Mesa attack sequence had all the elements of a classic set piece, it only needed its band of scavengers. With two days to prep, Framestore turned to Vicon motion capture products and a live link that helped two production teams make crucial decisions, five time zones away.
With nearly 300 VFX shots in production, Framestore already had a lot on its plate. Besides the Trash Mesa environments and crowds, Framestore’s Montreal facility was responsible for creating a deserted Las Vegas – designed with Syd Mead – and a glitchy, holographic shell for a computerized assistant named Joi (Ana de Armas). The idea for motion capture emerged later, almost on a whim.
“Montreal was considering options for the Trash Mesa sequence. The environments and character models were done, but the shots weren’t,” said Richard Graham, studio manager for Framestore’s Capture Lab. “They needed people to populate the wide and aerial shots they were working on. Our job was to provide realistic skeletal data and a variety of motions to the animation team so they could apply diverse crowd motion across their digital crowd. The only hiccup was, we were in London.”