On October 12, DGA members in Los Angeles’ DGA Theater Two got an inside look into a cutting-edge technique when the AD/UPM Council West’s DGA AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee presented the seminar, "Performance Capture!” How To? How Long? How Much?
The morning-long event used clips and slides from Director Rupert Wyatt's feature Rise of the Planet of the Apes and other films as illustrations of the techniques involved. The panel consisted of 1st AD Mathew Dunne, Performance Capture expert Demian Gordon, VFX Producer Ryan Stafford, Virtual Production Supervisor Gary Roberts and Motion Capture Animation Supervisor John Root.
Following a welcome from AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Chair Susan Zwerman (Vamps) who also served as moderator, the morning kicked off with a discussion about the history of performance capture and an overview of the techniques involved presented by Demian Gordon. A pioneer in the field of Performance Capture, Gordon has worked on major feature films, such as Oz the Great and Powerful, The Amazing Spiderman, Jack the Giant Killer, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Motion Capture Society Board of Directors.
In the next segment, Mathew Dunne – who served as an Assistant Director on both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – covered the subject of scheduling. Dunne emphasized how important it is for the directing team to be in synch with the VFX team on the set. In addition to the Apes films, Dunne has worked on action sequences for films such as Starship Troopers, Iron Man 3 and X-Men: First Class.
The third section of the seminar featured Gary Roberts, John Root and Demian Gordon in an exploration of the techniques and technology of Performance Capture. The trio explained the different approaches to the different types of VFX and discussed how the technology has rapidly evolved. Roberts is a 19-year veteran of the motion capture and virtual production industry whose credits include Ender’s Game, TRON Legacy, and Unchartered. Root has been pioneering creative motion capture solutions for the entertainment industry for nearly 20 years with credits that include video games, commercials and the feature films A Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms.
Ryan Stafford handled the final stand-alone segment that covered how to budget for Performance Capture and gave tips on how to be cost effective in utilizing the process. The VFX Producer on the production team for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the Associate VFX Producer on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Stafford has worked in Visual Effects for the past thirteen years with credits that include The Incredible Hulk, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and X-Men: The Last Stand.
The day concluded with a Q&A session where all five panelists returned to the stage to answer questions submitted by the audience.
DGA AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee
Susan Zwerman, Chair; Brian Frankish, Co-Chair; and members Dustin Bernard, Steve Danton, D. Scott Easton, Rick Feder, Billy Greenfield, Mark Hansson, Jules Kovisars, Cleve Landsberg, Larry Lerner, Rosemary Marks, Steve Molen, Dennis Murphy, John Rago, David Sanger, Randy Turrow, and Jonathan Zimmerman.