100 years of motion-capture technology


Modern motion-capture systems are the product of a century of tinkering, innovation and computational advances. Mocap was born a lifetime before Gollum hit the big screen in The Lord of the Rings, and ages before the Cold War, Vietnam War or World War II. It was 1915, in the midst of the First World War, when animator Max Fleischer developed a technique called rotoscoping and laid the foundation for today's cutting-edge mocap technology. Rotoscoping was a primitive and time-consuming process, but it was a necessary starting point for the industry. In the rotoscope method, animators stood at a glass-topped desk and traced over a projected live-action film frame-by-frame, copying actors' or animals' actions directly onto a hand-drawn world.

This mocap suit records Hollywood-quality animation at indie film prices


But a new, cameraless system from Dutch startup Rokoko, called the Smartsuit Pro, aims to make Hollywood-quality motion capture affordable for everybody. The Smartsuit Pro is a form-fitting jumpsuit equipped with 19 gyroscopic sensors. These detect the angle, momentum and position of your head, arms, legs and torso, then feed that information into a central hub on your lower back. The data can either be recorded locally on the hub's hard drive or streamed directly to a computer using WiFi. You'll get about 6 hours of use out of the suit before it needs to be recharged, though its batteries can easily be hot-swapped.

Why Taika Waititi Directed 'Thor: Ragnarok' in a Mo-Cap Onesie


Between all the superheroes and supervillains, directing a Marvel movie takes an effort that verges on the superhuman. But when he was making Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi had to do more than wrangle Thor, Loki, and the Hulk; he also cast himself as Korg, the stone-man gladiatorial fighter who becomes Thor's new mate. "I usually put myself in my films," says Waititi, who played a vampire in his 2014 horror spoof, What We Do in the Shadows. Turning into Korg, though, required more than fangs and makeup. In addition to a mo-cap suit, he also had to lug around a camera rig, battery packs, and Korg's face, all while acting (and joking) alongside Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder.

Relive THAT Snoke scene from 'Star Wars' with Andy Serkis in a mocap suit


Supreme Leader Snoke had quite a moment in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But how much did the mocap actor behind him -- none other than Andy Serkis, aka Gollum (and Klaue from Black Panther, nbd) -- really fuel the CG character's performance? This clip, newly released to hype the upcoming home video launch of The Last Jedi, offers a glimpse. It's not the entire scene, of course -- no major spoilers here -- but it does give you a sense of exactly what the fleshy half of Snoke brought to the role. Here's what it's like to wander around backstage at the Oscars with a bunch of celebrities

This full-motion VR simulator was so intense, I stepped off and threw up


I didn't expect, stepping in, that this 720-degree VR simulator would make me physically sick. At a glance the Aorus VR simulator looks like a lot of similar rigs you'd find in janky arcades of your youth. But I wasn't ready for the game I was about to get strapped into, Redout. Sitting in the rig, you have a VR headset and a pair of headphones on, before you're handed a joystick and told to "hold on really tight." Turns out, Redout is a pretty intense high-speed-racing game.