QuietMan employing mocap in spots
Marc Loftus
October 6, 2011

QuietMan employing mocap in spots

NEW YORK — Sixteen-year-old studio QuietMan (www.quietman.com) has adapted to industry change over the years. Once strictly a visual effects house, the facility moved into smaller space approximately five years ago, reduced the number of full-time staffers and expanded its services into editorial, production, and more recently, motion capture.

QuietMan is headed by Johnnie Semerad, its founder, creative director and lead Flame artist. The studio is home to Mac-based editing systems running Final Cut Pro, as well as five Discreet Flame/Inferno systems, numerous After Effects seats, and PCs running Softimage|XSI. Motion capture services were added several years ago as a way to cost-effectively extend the services it offers to clients either in a post production workflow or in a live production environment. QuietMan’s set up is based on proprietary technology combined with a suit employing gyro sensors and fiber optic connections.

The studio’s specialty is commercial work, and when Post caught up with Semerad and executive producer Carey Gattyan, the team was in the middle of a mo-cap session for a leading insurance provider. In fact, Semerad was acting as the motion-capture talent, wearing a sensor-covered suit and playing the role of an animated elderly man, who, when complete later this month, with appear on the provider’s Website.

Gattyan noted the savings that would be realized by using the motion capture set up for this job in particular. The Web video is to run three minutes in length, and in theory, the motion required for the character — getting in and out of a car, or walking through a house — could be captured in realtime. Realistically though, the actions would be captured in short stretches and then seamed together. Still, the process for acquiring the three-minutes worth of motion could be achieved in one morning session at QuietMan, as opposed to several days of keyframing. The set up is portable enough to take on location too, and doesn’t require special lighting or a calibrated volume to work.

QuietMan has even used it in live production scenarios, including a Valentine’s Day promotion with M&Ms featuring Ms. Green. The candy company’s female character interacted live with different news hosts, detailing why her color goes well with the February holiday.

IMAGE: QuietMan's Johnnie Semerad in the mo-cap suit. The pads under his arms are designed to limit motion that may interfere with the animated character's portly body. A monitor provides reference nearby, while clients can see results in realtime on the larger screen.