Hyper Island: Introducing mocap to digital media students
It was an early wake up for Niels and Sébastien of Rokoko’s Copenhagen office. Just like in their school days, they had to be on time for class. This time though, they would be the instructors, and school was a four hour train ride away. Snow was falling fast when their train pulled into the station at Karlskrona. Even under a frozen white blanket, it’s clear how much beauty lies in this UNESCO world heritage site. Once the campus of a military prison, the buildings – some hundreds of years old – are now home to Hyper Island, a digital learning institute where creativity is set free.
For context to those unfamiliar with Hyper Island, it was once referred to as “The Digital Harvard”. Through a constantly updated curriculum, it keeps students and companies on the cutting edge of technology. As part of this educational effort, Hyper Island purchased an Academic Bundle of Smartsuit Pros, and invited Rokoko to lead a motion capture lesson in their Exploring Technology in Motion Design learning module.
Niels was amazed by how quickly Hyper Island students picked up the process, “We only had two or three hours for presentation, brainstorming, ideation, prototyping on the spot with their bodies, going through the process of actually recording, and finally, the editing phase. I’m really happy we were able to go through the entire pipeline together in one morning, and am impressed by how much the students did in so little time.”
The assignment for the day was simple:
- Interpret the theme “time in motion”
- Create an animation that is maximum 10 seconds long
The students worked in groups of 5, and took turns using the three Smartsuits available. A brief tutorial from Sébastien was enough to get people moving, and even dancing in excitement. “Not only did they instantly understand how to use the suit,” Sébastien told us, “They were also able to immediately figure out how to adjust and improve their files in Smartsuit Studio. They had so much enthusiasm to learn and test everything, and were amazed to see their ideas unfold in real time. The ease of use of the Smartsuit Pro invites a lot of play and creativity, and it was so much fun to see the students in that energetic mindset.”
While all of the pupils were creatives and designers of some type, most of them were new to motion capture. “Some had never even touched animation, some had only done 2D animation, some had only done web design, and most had never worked with motion capture at all, since it’s usually cost prohibitive,” Niels explained. “One of the key design goals for the Smartsuit Pro and Smartsuit Studio software was to make them so intuitive that people with no experience could operate them, and the students really showed us this principle in action.”
From the first moment of amazement at seeing their body language on a neutral character, to the last tweaks and edits, the students were exploring a new world with more fluency than they could have imagined. Sébastien described the final presentation, “Everyone was so impressed by each other’s work, and just like earlier in the day, there was a lot of laughter and delight at seeing what each group was able to create.”
For Hyper Island, these pieces are just the beginning. Many students talked about wanting to return to their recordings even after the assignment, to continue transforming and reinventing them in Smartsuit Studio. One group even used the Smartsuit Pro in Hyper Island's tech exhibition a couple weeks later. At Rokoko, we know how important it is to empower students with tools that will help them perform their craft at the top of their game. “Students aren’t just the future, they’re shaping innovation now. They are the ones carving new paths to technology and art, so we have to put the best tools in their hands,” Niels says.
"This next generation of students won’t settle or compromise. They're looking for ways to make the development process as playful and open as possible."
The Smartsuit Pro is a tool made for this next generation of creatives. While the older generations have had the same workflow for decades, these young creatives are used to working intuitively with tech, constantly adapting to updates and improvements. As Sébastien says, "This next generation of students won’t settle or compromise, and are looking for ways to make the development process as playful and open as possible." We hear their needs, and are responding with tech that will move with them into the future. And if the students of Hyper Island are any indication of that future, then the future is fast, and the future is fun. We have much to look forward to. If you’d like your school to get in on motion capture’s future too, contact us and we’ll gladly set up a workshop on your campus.