Friday, March 20, 2015

Unbelievably impressive demo of the Unreal Engine 4

It's been far, far too long since I posted an update here on Machin-X, but I may be (finally) returning to some digital puppetry work in the near future and when I saw this demo for the Unreal Engine 4 I had to share it.

It is, well, pretty unreal:
The Kite open world demo created in Unreal Engine 4 features a diverse and beautifully realized 100 square mile landscape. Everything is generated completely in real-time at 30fps and includes fully dynamic direct and indirect illumination, cinematic depth of field and motion blur, and procedurally placed trees and foliage.
Real-time 3D sure has come a long way since I first worked on a TV pilot for a proposed kids' series using cardboard cut-outs and blob tracking with a webcam to create some 2D flash animation almost a decade ago.

I wonder where this technology will go in the ten years or so?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Henson Digital Puppetry Studio

This is a brand new promotional reel for the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, the patented real-time animation/digital puppetry system developed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Monday, September 09, 2013

This is a simple, but nonetheless very effective example of 2D digital puppetry created using Unity and a Kinect.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Animatic Digital Puppetry System

A look at "Animatic", a digital puppetry system that was developed by Luis Leite (see previous post) using 3D Studio Max and Macromedia Director in 2006. The system was developed as part of his research thesis Marionetas Virtuais.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Digital Puppeteer Mario Mey

This is a new demo reel for Argentinian digital puppeteer Mario Mey that shows off his digital characters performing en Español at various live events (his character Pinokio 3D was mentioned here back in 2010) . He creates and performs his "Marionetas Digitales" (digital puppet) characters using Blender 3D and PureData, a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio, video, and graphics.

You can see Mario at work and get a look at his production process in this video, however it was recorded in Spanish.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Faceshift Markless Motion Capture

Faceshift is software that promises "markless motion capture at every desk". It works with consumer-level cameras like the Kinect to track and analyze the facial expressions of a performer and uses them to animate a virtual character in real-time. It also offers the option of recording a performance so that it can be edited and polished in post-production.

There are lots of potential applications for this kind of software in game and film production and, of course, digital puppetry applications!

You can learn more at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hakanaï: Dancing with Digital Puppetry

Hakanaï is one of the more unconventional examples of a digital puppetry performance I've discovered (although, is there anything truly "conventional" about any form of digital puppetry?). Its creators describe it as a "haiku dance performance taking place in a cube of moving images projected live by a digital performer".

The performance involves a dancer performing live, whose movements are tracked in real-time and used as the basis for an interactive, digitally animated environment that is projected around them:

It was created by the French Company Adrien M / Claire B using their proprietary software eMotion. Here's more from their description of the project:
 ...Performed by an artist as a “digital score”, it is generated and interpreted live. The dancer’s body enters into a dialogue with the moving images in motion. These simple and abstract black and white shapes behave according to physical rules that the senses recognise and to mathematical models created from the observation of nature.
The audience experiences the performance in several stages. They first discover the exterior of the installation. As the dancer arrives, they gather around to watch the performance. When the choreography has ended, the audience can then take some time to wander amongst the moving images.

Through a minimalist transposition, this piece is based on images drawn from the imaginary realm of dreams, their structure and their substance. The box in turns represents: the bedroom where, once the barrier of sleep is passed, walls dissolve and a whole new inner space unfolds; the cage, of which one must relentlessly test the limits; the radical otherness, as a place of combat with an intangible enemy; the space where impossible has become possible, where all the physical points of reference and certitudes have been shaken.

Through the encounter of gesture and image, two worlds intertwine. The synchronicity between the real and the virtual dissolves and the boundary that was keeping them separate disappears, forming a unique space filled with a high oneiric charge. 
Very cool, no? You can learn more from the video's description on Vimeo.