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Filmmakers Enjoy 'Motion Capture' Expert

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A Disney Christmas blockbuster really came to life last night as the visual effects expert behind A Christmas Carol presented his own style of cinematic magic to a Belfast audience, Carla Liébana writes.
Aimed at supporting the development of creative companies in Norhern Ireland, Brian Freisinger's conference was on 'The Brave new world of the visual effects industry'.
Taking place last night at Queen's University, Freisinger based his presentation on the creation process of his latest film, the new version of the festive Dickens classic.
He said it was made in 'motion capture', a technique where human movements are recorded and translated to a digital model.
This technique, pioneered by director Robert Zemeckis in Polar Express, (staring an 'animated' Tom Hanks) allows the capture of a lot of digital information from actors to become the creation of a fantastic effect on the screen.
A Christmas Carol has been produced by ImageMovers Digital, the company created by Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke to develop films with this technique in stereoscopic 3D, exclusively for the Walt Disney Studios.
Freisinger referred to the creation of this company, stated it is very difficult to have a good idea, the right people, the resources and the personal experience all at the same time.
He said that, even if all this is achieved, it is then necessary to make a profit from the opportunity and so try to grow fast.
Showing several sequences from the film, he explained how the process was developed from the initial performance capture to the full animation, including middle steps such as clothes simulation or hair simulation, lighting and compositing, etc.
However, he insisted on the idea that although the results are quite good, the process is still "extremely difficult" and slow.
For example, he commented on the consequences of making a mistake in a frame: "The film contains 24 frames per second and really some frames take hours, some frames days and others have to be done twice."
According to him, one of the trickiest factors is to put facial elements and expressions of people into animation, so he praised Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman's performances, "whose fantastic interpretation made the animation easier".
In a venue full of professionals from the NI film industry, animation experts and university students, Freisinger encouraged the audience to ask questions and answered them by explaining his personal experience and said these were possible examples to Belfast's future cinematic industry.
As specific advice, he said that if he "went back in time", he would instead produce a movie 'short' first, to gain experience so as to tackle a more ambitious project later.
He also added that working with this stereoscopic method is not possible for small companies because it is extremely expensive.
See: Expert Reveals Power OF FX

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