THE PERFECT LOOP
ABOVE: My entry for Rokoko’s ‘The Perfect Loop’ animation challenge using mocap data… and my first ever animation!
Concept explanation and technical info below, along with a detailed ‘Making Of’ video coming soon – please subscribe to my youtube channel to catch it when it’s uploaded!
ABOVE: Mini 'Making Of' for the carrying the box of bits animation
BELOW: Breakdown of a scene
In June 2022, Rokoko held a competition to make a looping sequence using mocap animation data with the theme of ‘The Perfect Loop’. I joined late to the party and spent a crazy 3 weeks after work until the early hours learning the what-how-when-where-why for the whole process and WOW, that was one of the most intense learning experiences i’ve ever had. Whilst I use 3D sculpting software regularly, i’d never used any kind of mocap data before this challenge, let alone created a full animated sequence!
Every step of the journey was one step forward, realising I didn’t know to do that aspect of it, ten steps backwards, learning it, applying it… whilst it was super frustrating (the majority of the time), it was also incredibly rewarding to see an actual animated sequence coming together from nothing, just an idea.
My concept was somewhat a metaphor for inside my brain and/or a working factory where there’s different stages of development trying to work out how to create ‘the perfect loop’ – the RnD room trying to figure things out and doing tests, the showroom where the outcomes are being inspected and the work-in-progress storage room where all the discarded attempts end up (ie, my hard drive!). There are multiple mini-Brookes throughout the sequence and whilst it I hope it doesn’t comes across like a narcissistic Matrix of sorts, it was important to me to try and convey one person thinking about multiple things at once and juggling lots of information and work simultaneously.
This was my first time processing mocap data and applying it to a 3D character. Rokoko’s livestreams during the process were really helpful and inspiring. The mocap data is fascinating to use, particularly when there’s intricate hand movements, as these (for me, not knowing anything prior to this contest!) are much harder to replicate believable by hand keyframing. The adjusting of the motion data once applied to the characters was actually quite fun as it’s when you can start seeing the character take on a life of its own.
I would have loved to incorporate more details I had planned and a few more animations, but time was a real factor and I wanted to get the submission done without perfecting it for another 2948330 weeks. I did manage to get some details in that I was pleased with (the loop logo on the back of the mocap girl’s suit, the WIP label crossed out to RIP in the storage room, the robot etc). I focused a lot on the composition of each shot and the overall aesthetic with the shapes and pink and black muted colour palette.
I am SO thrilled that I completed this challenge, even though there are numerous things i’d change/add with those three weeks’ new knowledge under my belt, but moving forward I am immensely inspired to create and feel like with the ability to utilise mocap, the creative possibilities are endless!
Having never done any extensive animation like this before the challenge, I had to go through a lot of tests for my learning process – vast amounts of trying things, watching videos/researching as to why it didn’t work, redoing it…