All Posts By

lucyobrien

Lights, Camera, Action: A Mocap Production

By | Radlab

By: Manish Shrestha

I joined the Neoscape team in 2017, as a Digital Artist with a background in 3D Animation. Being passionate about creating photo realistic renderings and animations, and having always been intrigued by architecture and its ability to tell stories, I am grateful to work at a company that continues to lead the industry in architectural visualization. Over the past four years, I have applied my background in character animation to create computer generated people using Neoscape’s motion capture system.

Our motion capture (mocap) system tracks a person’s movements and translates their motion into a 3D character. An actor wears a special velcro suit, onto which we place 56 retroreflector markers at specific locations. The camera emits infrared lights that bounce off of the markers and back to the camera. Using multiple cameras, we can triangulate the position of the marker in 3D space, much the same way a GPS system locates your position. The cameras then track the markers throughout the actor’s performance, and the data is applied to the 3D character. 

In the world of visualization, we have always had to grapple with the cost and effectiveness of using 3D characters. Then, in 2016, Neoscape saw an opportunity to improve the performance of 3D people using mocap. A team of Neoscapers travelled to Mexico City, Mexico to visit the Mexican offices of Vicon, the leading developer in motion capture products. We worked with them to test and research their technology and, after seeing mocap’s potential in visualization, we wanted to bring that capability back to Neoscape. We asked Vicon to help us set up the motion capture system in our studio and walk us through the process.

Since putting the system in place, we have implemented mocap in various films. We have created people playing soccer, playing in a band, and practicing various track and field sports like long jump, sprinting, and shot put. Since the motion is applied on a 3D character, it offers all of the flexibility the 3D workflow provides, giving us the freedom to change the camera angle, modify the performance or outfit of the character, and create digital doubles for shots from vantage points that could not be captured otherwise. Mocap technology has given us the ability to create specific actions rather than being constrained by other online animation libraries.

Mocap has allowed 3D people to not only exist in a scene, but to interact with their environment. This gives us the ability to tell both the story of the architecture, and the story of the people moving throughout the space.

We continue to explore different avenues we can take with mocap, such as improving prop interaction with our characters,camera tracking for a more realistic camera movement, and, in the future, even 3D scanning people and adding them directly to our films. We know we have only just scratched the surface of how we can keep pushing boundaries with this technology!

RadLab Takes to 3DNY

By | Radlab Events

3DNY (formerly 3ds New York) is a monthly event bringing together students and professionals from across New York’s architectural, advertising, visual effects, interactive, gaming, and animation industries. The program began in June 2019 as a way for industry professionals to network and listen to presenters share their stories, experiences, challenges, and recent work. 3D enthusiasts have been gathering in Lucky Jack’s Bar on the second Wednesday of the month ever since (and, yes, drinks are available for purchase throughout the presentation).

In January, our own RadLab Director, Carlos Cristerna, was invited to share his most recent work. Since the launch of RadLab in 2018, Carlos has been working closely with companies like Epic Games, Nvidia, Chaos Group, Autodesk, Lenovo, and Vicon to test and develop new tools to substantially improve the process and workflow of Archviz solutions. He spent much of 2019 presenting his work at top industry events, including Autodesk University in Las Vegas, SOA ADX in Venice, and Siggraph in LA, to name a few. Now, he had the opportunity to share his insights with New York City’s 3D community.

Carlos kicked off the presentation with a brief introduction to RadLab’s origins, explaining how he identified the need to create an R&D department to explore new solutions that would benefit Neoscape’s clients, the company, and the industry in general. The rest of the presentation focused on his three most recent projects – all of which are considered game-changers for the future of Architectural Visualization.

Unreal Engine

He began with his experience working alongside Epic Games Unreal Engine developers and the introduction of new Real-Time Raytrace solutions, thanks to the new Nvidia RTX graphic cards. A highlight of the night was his demonstration of how the technology can create a 4-minute architectural/artistic film in real-time (that’s right, forget about those render times, soon they will be a thing of the past)

Project Lavina

Following his Unreal Engine demonstration, he shared a preview of what Chaos Group is developing, a 100% Real-time Raytracing engine, so far known as Project Lavina. Though it’s still in the initial phases of the development (not in Beta yet), Carlos has been working closely with the developers, testing the engine and providing feedback to improve it. We were given a sneak peek of how it works, seeing how easily it could translate a VRay scene into a Raytraced environment. From here, we could tweak materials, lighting, cameras in Real-Time, and generate high-quality renderings and animations in a matter of seconds. 

Motion Capture Technology

Last, but certainly not least, he briefly presented the motion capture technology Neoscape has been using for a couple of years now to enhance storytelling through CG animated characters. The technology takes a tool more commonly used in expensive Hollywood productions and applies it to ArchViz, creating solutions that otherwise would be difficult to achieve. While there are still plenty of improvements to be made in this field, the R&D time invested by the RadLab and Neoscape team continues to bring about better results.

We could easily have stayed at Lucky Jack’s for hours, watching additional demonstrations and bombarding Carlos with questions. Alas, the one and only James Falconer, event co-host, eventually brought the presentation to a close. The event was definitely time well spent and a great way to kick off 2020.

A big thanks to all the 3DNY hosts – Mengyi Fan, James Falconer, and Kim Lee – presenters, sponsors, audience, and Lucky Jack’s crew!!

Neoscape at Autodesk University 2019

By | Radlab Events

Autodesk University 2019 was the culmination of a year of worldwide travel and conferences for the Neoscape RadLab. We would like to thank all the great people that attended the event and participated in our classes. We appreciate your feedback and are grateful for your comments and opinions regarding our work! 

This year, Neoscape’s presentations were led by RadLab Director Carlos Cristerna and targeted the AEC sector. Our first class focused on visualizing architecture while designing it, a topic that has always been a challenge for us and our clients. We covered a few recent, and not so recent, examples of possible uses of Unreal Engine and Chaos Group Project Lavina to leverage NVIDIA’s RTX cards on the Lenovo P53 mobile workstation to overcome this issue. 

Our second class was “Archviz meets VFX.” Here, we discussed how Neoscape has recently changed its pipeline and added management tools like Autodesk Shotgun and motion-capture technology to make our process more efficient and differentiate it from our competition. We covered some of the most challenging projects we have done throughout the decades, how we got here, and where we see ourselves in the future. 

Topics like these were prevalent throughout the event, and this wasn’t by accident. Designers are pushing for ways to iterate designs in less time, often with more complicated datasets. As such, machine learning and AI were recurring topics at the cusp of software and hardware convergence.

On the floor, Lenovo invited Neoscape to be a part of their booth’s customer showcase. We had the opportunity to interact and engage with attendees over the four-day extravaganza and chat about hardware and software alike. 

At the Epic Games booth, we demonstrated just a few of the possibilities that exist to produce marketing and conceptual work for real estate using Unreal Engine real-time solutions.

Last but not least, we met up with our friends from Chaos at NVIDIA’s booth to showcase one of our demo files on project Lavina, their real-time ray tracer. 

Again, a big thank you to all of the participants and people that took a second to say hi to us. And, of course, to our technology partners Lenovo, NVIDIA, Chaos, and Epic that gave us an incredible platform to share what we’ve learned over 25 years of leading the field of architectural visualization.

Special thanks to Autodesk for having us and for organizing such a great event. We are extremely happy with the outcome and can’t wait to see what AU will bring in the new year.