The Blender Foundation has started a new "Open Movie" project called "Mango", and this one is of particular interest to me for Lunatics, because of the technical goal: motion tracking. Motion tracking is principally about putting animated 3D objects into real footage so that it matches the background "plate" (i.e. the original footage).
But the same technology can work the other way, too -- allowing real footage to control the behavior of a 3D scene. We call the latter "motion capture", and it's one of the three methods of "real time animation" that I described in a previous column in my "Making Free Movies with Free Software" series (and which I want to use on our Lunatics project).
I originally thought that the software developed for Mango would probably only be good for motion tracking and not so much for motion capture work -- but a few early tests from the project (like this and this) have made me think there's real potential for the development to work for both applications.
Previously, the best available free software for motion capture would've been from the "CheapMoCap" project -- but that was research software, made good enough to prove the principle, but not really adequate for production use. We would have to do a lot of research to turn that software into something we can use in our production. With Mango, though, we can look forward to seeing similar technology not only developed, but integrated directly into Blender and tested in a high-pressure production environment.
That's hard to beat! So, I'm going to be tracking the motion of the Mango project very closely myself -- this project will have real benefits for Blender users, and I plan to chip in my support. I hope you will too!
Photo Credit: Blender Foundation | www.blender.org