They're alive!

Jan. 8, 2004
They certainly look alive. The on-screen martial artists punch, block, jump, and land with all the visual queues that say, "This is real." Except it isn't. Reality comes from 3D body scans and motion capture that creates digitized humans with biomechanically correct skeletons and muscles for a Discovery Channel Xtreme Martial Arts (XMA) documentary.
Nexus Digital Studio combined scanned human characters with streaming motion-capture data and mapped moving, 3D characters onto 35-mm digitized film. In one scene, a character jabs a weapon into another's torso. The jolt to bones is shown through an animated x-ray technique mapped to the torso of a live-action martial artist. This creates an illusion that the bones and tissue were those of the live performer.

An Nvidia Quadro FX 3000 graphics card, capable of drawing more than 100 million triangles/sec, puts the digital acrobats into motion. The card comes from Nvidia Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. (www.nvidia.com).

The documentary combines live-action fight sequences with physical and behavioral-based animation to illustrate the science of martial arts. The technique highlights moves normally impossible to analyze with the naked eye. A few video clips are available at http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/xma/video/video.html.

Each martial artist stepped into a laser scanner at Nexus Digital Studio to create a lifelike virtual model. With scan data comprising hundreds of thousands of polygons, the Nvidia card created a 3D image of each performer. Biomechanically accurate, animated skeletons were then scaled to fit the body size of the performers. As the artists fought, Motional Analysis Studios (MAS) used digitizing cameras to capture the subtlety and precision of the acrobatic moves. MAS used this behavioral data and graphics card to bring the 3D body scans to life by imposing natural movement onto the digitized characters.

"This combination of live-action footage, spectacular visuals, and biomechanically sound animation may redefine the way we look at human motion and bring it to the screen," says Mickey Stern, executive producer of XMA. "The entertainment value is self-evident, but the value for scientific study and learning is unlimited. Martial artists push their bodies to super-human levels, and only with the graphics card could we have measured and illustrated it down to bone and tissue."

Sponsored Recommendations

How BASF turns data into savings

May 7, 2024
BASF continuously monitors the health of 63 substation assets — with Schneider’s Service Bureau and EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor. ►Learn More: https://www.schn...

Agile design thinking: A key to operation-level digital transformation acceleration

May 7, 2024
Digital transformation, aided by agile design thinking, can reduce obstacles to change. Learn about 3 steps that can guide success.

Can new digital medium voltage circuit breakers help facilities reduce their carbon footprint?

May 7, 2024
Find out how facility managers can easily monitor energy usage to create a sustainable, decarbonized environment using digital MV circuit breakers.

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!