Current and future animations seek for realistic motions to create an illusion of authentic and believable animations. A technology widely used to support this process is motion capture. Therefore, motion capture actors are used to enrich the movements of digital avatars with suitable and believable motions and emotions.
Acting for motion capture, as it is performed today, is a challenging work environment for actors and directors. Short preparation times, minimalistic scenery, limited information about characters and the performance as well as memorizing movements and spatial positions require actors who are trained and able to highly rely on their acting and imagination skills. In many cases these circumstances can lead to performances with unnatural motions such as stiff looking and emotionless movements, as well as less believable characters. To compensate this, time-consuming repetitions of performances or post-processing of motion capture recordings is needed.
In order to improve this, we explore the possibilities of acting support and immersion through an interactive system supporting motion capture actors during their performances. In this process, we use an approach that combines research methods from interaction design and computer science. For our research, we firstly identify the challenges actors are facing in motion capture, as well as suggest possible concepts to support the actors. Thereafter, we explore initial prototypes built to support actors during their performance in a motion capture studio. The resulting insights from these initial prototypes led to the design exploration and development of a mixed reality headmounted projection display that allows showing virtual scenery to the actors and provides real-time acting support. Thereafter, we describe our developed mixed reality application and our findings on how hardware and software prototypes can be designed as acting support, usable in a motion capture environment. A working prototype allowing to evaluate actors' experiences and performances was built as a proof-of-concept.
Additionally, we also explored the possibility to use our developed mixed reality prototype in other fields and investigated its applicability for computer games and as an industrial simulator application. Finally, we conducted user studies with traditionally trained theatre and TV actors, experienced motion capture actors and experts, recording the experiences with our prototype.
The results of these user studies indicate that our application makes it easier for motion capture actors to get into demanded moods and to understand the acting scenario. Furthermore, we show a prototype that complies with the requirements of a motion capture environment, has the potential to improve motion capture acting results and supports actors with their performances.