March 18th-22nd, 2019:

DSN 6400 (DAIM Graduate Studio):


Phase I is finally due! For the past 5 weeks, I have been working on cleaning up the motion capture data I received from Lillian and Conner during the car scene. I wanted to primarily work on their data since that is the initial lead up to the walk. Seeing their responses and actions are important foundations for the next occurrence.


Going into this week, I took the feedback I received from Maria and Jeanine, and decided to halt my work on editing, and figure out what steps I needed to make for this scene to work. Right now, editing it couldn't get the effect I needed - confusion, fear, unease. So I plan on reshooting, and moving on with editing it afterwards.


Original Proposal:

For Phase I of our project proposals, I will focus on the technical problems my side of the thesis project has been having, or those issues that haven’t been given enough attention – the emotive states of the bodies and facial features of Lucille Bridges and the Government Official within the car scene. I have a lot of motion capture data to work with, clean up, and polish for proper staging, fluidity, and purpose. By this I mean, right now those (digital) characters are not performing in the style I am aiming for. Compared to the original capture and footage of the live performance, and mirrored into the digital performance, it can be pushed for more emotion, better body language, and period acting. I need to spend time working in MotionBuilder and Maya to tweak both body motion and facial motion, given that these characters have very different performance styles.


Lucille Bridges: woman; silent; primarily focusing on body language; back seat placement

○ What should they elicit for the viewer?

○ A source of recognition in silence, uncomfortableness, fear, and confusion. Lucille’s body language performance is almost stoic, but can be interpreted in different fashions to different viewers. The performance should construct poise but underneath be read as unknowing.


Government official: male; lots of voice acting; primarily focusing on facial emotions; front seat placement

○ What should they elicit for the viewer?

○ A source of recognition in firmness, worry, and intensity. The Government Official is there to conduct order both verbally and in his assured body language. The performance should construct a composed, deliberate order of authority.

I also want to conduct research in some of the case studies I’ve listed below. Researching and analyzing the design choices in performance for these VR projects will help influence my own path in this project. So setting aside time for that study will be helpful.


Scope of Work:


Summarize Concept:


Direction/Concept: Plan was to evoke the following emotions through the performance of said character


So far, Abby and I have been prototyping. We’ve been working together to get to a spot that makes sense in terms of the story and the game-like elements within the VR world, but we haven’t focused on our own processes for the understanding and design elements of our own tracks. This next step – to focus on our own skill sets and ideas on the project will help to flesh out the lack of emotion and relatability we have as well as enhance our individual understandings of the paths we want to go down on this thesis. For me, that is the emotive performance and directing for it. With that not a prominent feature in the project right now, I’d like to continue to push it so that I can therefore talk about it.


Goal for User observing Lucille Bridges: To find a source of recognition in silence, uncomfortableness, fear, and confusion. Lucille’s body language performance is almost stoic, but can be interpreted in different fashions to different viewers. The performance should construct poise but underneath be read as unknowing.

Lucille Bridges: woman; silent; primarily focusing on body language; back seat placement


Summarize Relation to Thesis:


Data: With the cleanup of the data, it relates to my thesis thread of designing a process for enhancing visual emotive qualities of characters from live performance capture into virtual reality.

Case Studies: All of the case study projects I’ve looked into have something to do with racism, otherness, or neglect – all themes within my thesis project. By looking at these case studies and seeing how they were designed or the character’s motions within them make the user feel, I believe I will get a better head space of how I want to design my project, and then write about it.


Prototype:


Experimentation and discoveries of incorrect areas - In take 7, the mother figure does a quick walk, only looks forward, and is emitting confidence. I need it to read more as cautionary, unsure of the situation, yes she's scared, but shouldn't show her daughter that. Looking out of the 'car' more often, reading and analyzing the situation she has gotten her, and her daughter in.


Mid Edits:


Changes I made in these edits:

○ Slow down pacing

○ Make shorter movements to look around

○ Don’t close door


Process:


In my process, I would remap the data onto the character I wanted to be studying the motion against, and then see how the performance looks. From there, I would clean up the FCurves (jitters, bumps, glitches, etc.), and then create individual animation layers on top of them to enhance the performance. Sometimes these would be additive layers (these are additive on top of the original data, simply giving it more volume and enhancement) , and others would be override layers (these then become the dominant layer overcoming the original data to the point where it doesn't even influence it, but simply replaces it.)



Case Studies Journal Progress:


1000 Cut Journey:

This experience examines how virtual reality can induce empathy for people different from oneself. They are using the medium of VR to examine racism. The use of VR, otherness, and racism, are all subject matters that are relevant to our current narrative project on Ruby Bridges. But what I am not finding in the articles I am reading about this is how they designed. What the process was in designing this scene and getting the animation and effects for it. It doesn't mean that it isn't out there - just that I don't see any articles or publications on it. For designers interested in this newly emerging medium of VR, I think it is important to showcase how it was created. This is why I think my topic for writing how to design/direct a performance in VR is important. This writing material isn't out there, and yet there are so many rules and guidelines that we are just now creating that should be stated/researched. I will try to continue following up with this case study to see if there are any article release about the process/progress, but for now it is simply based on user's experiences of it.

I Am A Man:

So I watched the experience above, and upon watching it I saw a LOT of the same design choices being made that Abby and I are currently making - which makes me feel that we are on the right path. We have little snippets of sound bites from Ruby in our piece that are integrated between the scenes to give insight as to what may happen next - and that is the same with what is happening in this piece. It leads the user into the next scenario. But in terms of designing for the piece, Matt Lewis actually sent me a link related to the the creator's intentions when designing for it (article here). Derek Ham, the director of the piece, discusses his design of visual techniques and affordances of agency to the user, which would be great information for Abby and I to sit down and discuss. And although not much was said on motion, he made a chart considering emotion.

Here, Ham had a layout of each scene, the purpose, the space, and the emotion he wanted the audience to feel. This is an extremely beneficial design that I think Abby and I should sit down and coordinate in relation to the narrative we have already established and hope to establish.


Project Syria:

This experience, I focused on the design of the scenes and the motion. Here is an experience that has pre-recorded data, and minimal facial data to look upon. The little girl in the experience is singing to a group of onlookers, but only her mouth motion shows the singing. I wonder if this was because of a time restraint, or an aesthetic choice. There are three scenes though of body motion with multiple groups - something that is happening within our project. The data looks like it is readable and we can tell what is happening clearly without questioning the intent. In the first scene, there are walker bys, and then an explosion which blows everyone out of the scene. The data is tricked though through fog visuals, where the characters disappear. But then more attention can be given to the man holding the child’s body. The second scene is ofa vendor dealing with an angry group of people who can’t afford the product. We know that they are angry by their body language, not by facial reading. And the third scene has both a group of children around a campfire, with minimal movement, but then the duplication of avatars without any motion, and only the purpose of being overwhelming in numbers.

Discoveries:


○ Did not meet original stated intention - but through this I learned what I need to do

○ Worked 4 weeks on a scene

○ With feedback from advisers, decided to no longer go with that scene

○ Reshoot this specific shot within the car scene specifically for the mom (waiting for responses from actors)

○ Work on government official until then

○ Implement case studies into design and writing


Feedback from Critique:


Moving forward from here, I received feedback to really dive deeper into the case studies and write more on how they are being designed, the specifics of the comparisons and details, and figure out why they are important to this project and research.


I also believe the class knows that I am reshooting, and understand what changes and directions I need to give my actors to get the full scope of the performance.