Kaiser Permanente partnered with Vectorform to build a new tool for use in autism assessment, helping make the experience fun for kids and easier for clinicians. Structured around speech, occupation, and physical therapy mini-games, the Microsoft Kinect system was combined with therapist input to help track performance and improvement. As a key part of the experience we created a 3D animated character to act as guide, coach, and friend; Marty the Monkey.John Einselen – September 16, 2010
Earlier this year I was working on some interactive demos at Vectorform that needed stereoscopic delivery. With Avatar, Up, and many other stereo movies being released, requests for 3D imagery were proliferating quickly, and I needed to develop a pipeline that could quickly and reliably deliver stereoscopic imagery for home, mobile, and specialised device delivery. Realtime processing in Apple’s Quartz Composer made it easy to quickly mock up and revise my compositing techniques, setting up compositing rules that were later ported into After Effects and Photoshop tutorials, and in-house plugins for After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and Motion via FxFactory Pro.
Vectorform is always working on the latest tech, be it unreleased hardware or the most popular multitouch platforms from Microsoft, Apple, 3M, HP, and others. We work with some of the top players in the industry, and earlier this year we got to develop stereoscopic demos on the Microsoft Surface. In preparation for productions like this, I worked on pipeline solutions for developing, creating, and finishing stereo imagery.
There are of course multiple ways to deliver a stereoscopic experience; linear and circular polarised glasses paired with filtered projection (IMAX and Disney RealD), lenticular or masked parallax displays (such as Sharp 3D or the Nintendo 3Ds), and many more, including the easiest and oldest — anaglyphic. While I’ll discuss anaglyphic compositing in some upcoming articles, this tutorial covers some of the actual camera setups and rendering tricks needed to create stereoscopic imagery in the first place. Generating content for stereoscopy (left and right sides) is universal, regardless of delivery mechanism, so this tutorial should be suitable for any system you’re working with.
Two schools of thought
While stop motion can be a fantastic medium, the process is too slow for many productions. Even for simple elements, like wrinkled paper, the time it takes to do things physically is often untenable; for the Microsoft PowerPivot online advertising campaign, Vectorform required lightening quick turnaround on visual elements and animation revisions, often on an hour by hour basis.
This is how the paper cutout effects were designed and generated dynamically using Adobe After Effects.
Using freely available tools, lipsyncing a character in Adobe After Effects doesn’t have to be a pain. Papagayo is an open source app for breaking a script down into phonemes and syncing the pieces to an audio track, while LipSync is an OS X dashboard widget that helps translate the resulting moho switch files into After Effects keyframes.
The workflow was developed at Vectorform as part of the production pipeline for Microsoft’s PowerPivot online advertising campaign (to see how the torn effects were created, check out Dynamic Paper Cutouts).
The members of Vectorform Labs newly minted Surface team are starting to get their hands dirty and make some really sweet stuff. Our assembled A-list includes Joe, Dan and Brad, the genius minds driving new technology and interactive development, and Florin, Clemens, Aaron and John, masters in user experience, interface design and motion graphics. Today, the guys are exploring the capabilities of the Microsoft Surface SDK, as well as the applications that came preloaded on our unit, including:
• Data Visualizer
• Controls Box
• Finger Fountain
• Grand Piano
• Scatter Puzzle
• Shopping Cart
• Virtual Concierge
And many more…