Why Motion Capture is an Essential Part of Animation VFX

May 11, 2015

The New York Film Academy Animation Department caught up with two former 3D Animation students, Chad Waldschmidt and Scott Cullen. Waldschmidt is a 3D animator living and working in New York City. Over the last eight years, he’s worked on commercials, cinematics, video games, short films, concepts, and online advertisements. His game credits include Just Cause 3, NBA Live ’14, Ben10: Omniverse, Skylanders: Giants, Dance Central, Rock Band: Green Day, Rock Band: The Beatles, and Rock Band 2. Scott Cullen currently works as a professional Previs and Layout Artist in Los Angeles. He’s worked with well known companies like NBC Universal, DisneyToon Studios, Imaginary Forces, and more. He’s also worked on numerous films such as Life of Pi, R.I.P.D., and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

We asked the two alumni one simple question: Do you think having motion capture in the NYFA Animation program is essential, and has it helped you in your professional career as an animator?


Chad: I’ve been working with motion capture since practically the first day I started working in the industry. I’m sitting at work using it right now. If you have your animation basics down, you should be able to pickup motion capture relatively quickly. It’s a different way of working for sure though. And most animators I know usually have a love or hate relationship with it. But the fact is, it’s been an invaluable thing for me to know, personally. I’ve been doing this for a long enough time now, and have been involved with enough projects and studios, to safely say that having a strong knowledge in motion capture is a huge benefit for any animator to have. It’s so widely used now—from films to previs to video games—that I of course think it’s a great thing for students to have a decent understanding of what it is and how to work with it.

And it’s not going away anytime soon. As the technology gets cheaper and better, it’s just going to keep becoming more and more common. It’s an important medium for animators, and it’s used all over the place. It opens a lot more doors for you. And I think these days you’re going to need as much of an advantage as you can get, coming out of school, as more and more people get into this industry.

NYFA throws everything at you in a short amount of time, so you can see how the whole 3D pipeline works. Motion capture is very much a part of today’s 3D pipeline, and anyone studying animation should be at least familiar with it.

Here’s a quick trailer of the game I’ve been working on for a little while now, it’s been a pretty fun project!

Scott: I’d say it’s definitely beneficial to have in the program. The virtual camera setup is starting to get used more widely now. Disney’s upcoming Jungle Book remake was all done with mocap and a virtual camera setup and there were tons of Motion Builder positions that they were scrambling to fill. Like Chad said, it’s a good skill to have and adds a lot of versatility which is important nowadays especially when coming right out of school and trying to land that first gig.