Luma creates Über Lycan for 'Underworld: Awakening'
April 24, 2012

Luma creates Über Lycan for 'Underworld: Awakening'

SANTA MONICA —Translating concept art and storyboards into the animated mannerisms of a larger-than-life CG monster is challenging for even the most talented animators. Luma Pictures ( – the studio responsible for character development, animation and film VFX for the Über Lycan in “Underworld: Awakening” – called on an OptiTrack motion capture system, installed on-site at their Santa Monica studio.

Luma’s animators used the system to record the movements of actor Kris Holden-Reid, as he brought the Über Lycan, to life. Mocap was employed both to fine-tune performance points during previs and quickly create realistic reference animations that could be used as starting points for the final keyframing process. As Luma prototyped character animation and virtual cinematography alongside the film’s directorial team, new ideas could be fleshed out in realtime and then baked onto a character’s control rig for further post-animation in Autodesk Maya.

One of the film’s most high-profile shots, in which Quint Lane (Holden-Reid’s human character) violently transforms into a 13-foot werewolf, was captured using 12 OptiTrack S250e cameras and a 24’ x 24’ stage designed for the project. Observing the data as it was retargeted in MotionBuilder, in realtime, enabled the team to immediately identify the movements that could be most convincingly translated into the final transformation sequence.

“OptiTrack data gives our team the freedom to experiment and iterate on our ideas quickly,” says Steven Swanson, VFX producer at Luma Pictures. “With mocap at our disposal, our ability to make decisions on final direction and export animator-ready scenes to our team has accelerated significantly.”

Besides being able to track nuanced actor performances with convincing realism, Luma required a mocap platform that could be easily incorporated into their existing ecosystem. “It had to be a system that was simple to set-up and pipe into MotionBuilder and Maya,” adds Swanson.