Sean Meng – Looking Outwards 5

The Avatar

The left image shows the blue cat-like alien Neyitiri shouting. The right image shows the actress who portrays her, Zoe Saldana, with motion-capture dots across her face and a small camera in front of her eyes.

The computational-capture graphics technique

Speaking of computational 3D artwork, the first project that comes to  my mind is definitely the 2009 sci-fic movie Avatar by James Cameron. I still remember when I first saw the movie, I was totally shocked by the breathtakingly beautiful scene: the Avatars, the enormous valley, the dragons etc. I was even more surprised when I knew those graphics were computer generated. The director planned to make use of photorealistic computer-generated characters, created using new motion capture animation technologies he had been developing in the 14 months leading up to December 2006. Innovations include a new system for lighting massive areas like Pandora’s jungle, a motion-capture stage or “volume” six times larger than any previously used, and an improved method of capturing facial expressions, enabling full performance capture. To achieve the face capturing, actors wore individually made skull caps fitted with a tiny camera positioned in front of the actors’ faces; the information collected about their facial expressions and eyes is then transmitted to computers.


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