Mark Iversen, animation director student at The National Film School of Denmark
In the past years, many educational institutions and film schools have chosen Rokoko tools to teach students animation and motion capture. The prestigious National Film School of Denmark is one of these institutes and Mark Iversen is one of its animation director students who successfully graduated and used Rokoko’s motion capture tools for his final creative project - “Neon Knights - Humanity Erased”. We asked him about his experience with Rokoko and how the use of rokoko tools impacted his approach to animation.
Mark had the chance of working with Rokoko’s character animation and motion capture tools for the first time during his educational program in Animation at The National Film School of Denmark. The renowned institute was founded in 1966 and, since then, it has been forming talents of all kinds within the film and game industry. The teaching programme is a mixture of theoretical and practical training including a large number of hands-on exercises and productions. The school made four Rokoko Smartsuit Pro accessible to its students to give them the opportunity to work with pre-vis and motion capture animation, enabling the students to both develop their own artistic work with motion capture and to be part of the practical collaboration that an animation/VFX production involves. The suits were mostly used for pre-vis, as Mark described:
“What we have been doing with the suits was kind of rapidly pre-vis our ideas for films and short-films or even gameplay mechanics. That process of putting on a suit and rapidly previs a scene just to get an idea of its pacing, its staging, really opens up opportunities to begin to feel the scene and understand if it is a good take or we should try something else.”
Rokoko changed Mark’s approach to creation and production of animations:
“When you commit too early and you regret too late, it comes at a big cost! I wanted to shift from what I call the “plan-plan-commit-regret” mentality of traditional animation. Rokoko allowed me to have a different approach.”
Each student’s final project at the film school is usually a film or game produced on a professional level and presented to the public. Mark’s ambitious and innovative project “Neon Knights” is a cyber noir set in a sci-fi world, aimed at blurring the lines between cinema and games. Using 3D scans, virtual cameras, facial- and body motion capture, Mark wanted to tell the story of his character Nic Gates - played by famous Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen, known for his roles in House of Cards and The Witcher among others.
The animation was meant as a concept (vertical slice) for a PC game adventure with stunning cinematics and Mark really wanted to have a meaningful and believable motion capture performance as they had the great Lars Mikkelsen on board. This is why he chose to use Rokoko with Unreal, with the aim of achieving a high level of fidelity in both gameplay and cinematic moments.
“I adopted this process of using the suit to be able to express how I want to tell stories and how I can tell stories. You don’t always have access to an animator.. but you always have access to your body!”
Mark had specific reasons to believe that Rokoko was a better choice for his project than an optical system.
“The reason I chose Rokoko over an optical system was the fact that with Rokoko we didn’t need a huge location or a big studio. We could just fit the set-up in any of the school’s rooms and be up and running in no time. It was really easy to put on, and we didn’t have to worry about anything. It was as simple as using a laptop when you want to rapidly prototype something. It is highly portable. For example, we had a scene where we needed to be off location for one hour. To be able to unpack the whole scene and bring it outside for a take we needed something really portable. Smartsuit Pro made everything smooth.”
The most effective way to learn how to master motion capture is by working hands-on with a system. We are always happy to enrich the academic offer of many institutions, allow them to turn any classroom into a professional motion capture stage and shape the works of their creative talents.
There are three main reasons that so many schools and universities have decided to switch to using the Smartsuit Pro and Rokoko tools:
- Ease of use: The students can quickly learn how to use the tools on their own and won’t need staff to operate them
- Can be used anywhere: The school doesn’t need to find a dedicated motion capture stage, but can use a regular classroom or any free space to shoot
- Price: Given the low price of the system, the schools are more comfortable letting the students experiment and work with the suits without supervision. They can also have many systems at the school and have different projects working simultaneously.