Neither ever, nor never, a live performance piece done at Mars College, exploring story telling through motion capture choreography, motion graphics, and projection mapping.
We met Leilani Franco at Mars College, a 3 month long art/tech residency in Bombay Beach. Leilani is a crazy body contortionist who decided to bring herself into the metaverse with motion capture and her own Rokoko suit. We were so excited to collaborate with her, since we had been researching AI based motion capture and playing around with funky contortion avatars ourselves.
We wanted to create something together that would fit naturally into the architecture of Mars College, which is how the 5 room / 5 girl structure came about. Leilani and I wanted to tell a story of being trapped in emotional phases, shown through the choreography and visual effects. We were also super excited by the idea of her dancing live and interacting with the characters during the projection.
Leilani choreographed the rooms, and then recorded the 5 rooms separately into FBX files with her motion capture suit. She sent them to me, and I did some quick test renders for her so that she could see how they all moved together.
I was so amazed by how the individual sequences lined up perfectly, she said she just had timed it to the music :) I then took these files and added specific effects we had discussed together to each room, with some VEX wizardry in HoudiniFX.
We did a few iterations of motion capture recording and vfx touchups until we arrived at the final picture. Then I handed it off to Kif who beautifully designed the backlit lighting scheme and rendered the piece. It took 6 hours on both of our computers to render this 2 minute piece!
On the day of performance, we gave the video to Vincent and he mapped the video to the buildings surface. After staring at the visuals on my computer screen for hours that week, it was amazing to see them projected on the wall of our "Air" building, and Leilani's live movements emotional and perfectly in sync with the graphics.