Shape Over Time

This video installation was first shown at the Lethaby 2 Gallery: Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, Southampton Row in July 2000.
The animation loop was projected onto a 5 metre wide screen inside the large dark gallery space.

The performers were given a 2 hour physical theatre workshop by Judy Gordon which included group-work exercises and games. These were filmed from overhead and the the positions of their heads were tracked in Puffin's Commotion software. The resulting data for head rotation and x,y was used to drive vector graphic shapes which replaced the filmed footage and took on the performers characteristics and conveying the thought and intention behind movement that the viewer can detect as 'human’.

The principle behind the design was that after observing the public in groups from overhead, the head movements were more unconciously made whereas the body movements were usually less expressive or more planned in their use. By capturing the instinctive twitches and direction changes of the head, performances could be captured and translated to animation.

Also presented as part of this work was a section featuring drawing over the filmed performers live with a graphics tablet which was re-recorded as a composite of the two elements.

1. shape over time, still generated during the motion tracking process

2. shape over time - still from the animation/publicity

3. a preview from the first section

4. live drawing over filmed footage section using a vision mixer and graphics tablet

movement specialist: Judy Gordon
performers: Caleb Wertenbaker, Wuei-Yih Chang, I-Ju Hung, Trish Lyons, Tisna Westerhof

This kind of 2d motion capture works on identifying and tracking visible points that move through shots such as the leaf points in this example below. It's now also possible to take the camera off the tripod and track the background as well. These movies are from the original tests in 1999/2000:

5. images from the 2008 reworking

6. example from one of the workout films using a similar process from 2009