LOS ANGELES — Motion capture system developer Vicon (www.vicon.com) recently collaborated with the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts at the USC School of Cinematic Arts to upgrade their motion capture system. Originally built in the fall of 2006 with 20 cameras, the first classes to use the mocap stage were taught in spring of 2007 by two USC alums, Hollywood filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and Eric Furie, USC manager of digital systems and creative computing. Reently, the facility's mocap system expanded into a 1,700-square-foot stage with 46 cameras.
"A lot has changed in the last year because of the new stage," notes Furie. "We are trying to emulate what is happening on the bleeding edge of the industry so students are exposed to what they need to know. Vicon is the standard in the mocap arena and students must understand how this technology integrates into all facets of the industry — not just simply mocap and body capture for narratives but also for previs, virtual production, virtual cinematography, game development, etc. It's a core part of how work is done and high profile companies need skilled talent."
With a curriculum initially developed to expose students to motion capture, USC has been able to broaden course offerings to include an advanced course building on the fundamentals learned in the intro course. A virtual production and interface design class are just two of many mocap-focused courses currently in development at the school, and a visit to the mocap stage has been integrated into many other areas of academia such as history and science with faculty recognizing the advantages of having such technology at their disposal.