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Filmakademie Streamlines Virtual Production Pipeline for Animated Music Video

Real-Time Workflow Leverages OptiTrack Motion Capture System and Epic’s Unreal Engine

The 80-second animated music video for The Vibromatics’ rock jam “Wall of Death” features an assortment of insects attending a concert that participate in the hardcore wall of death mosh pit ritual to prevent the devastating blow of an incoming meteorite. To deliver the project in less than six months, Animation Directors Duo Helge Forler & Felix Zehender, Technical Lead Mahmoud Hesham and a team of talented artists at the Animation Institute at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Germany designed and built a real-time virtual production pipeline comprising an OptiTrack motion capture system and Epic’s Unreal Engine, among other tools.

“Wall of Death” marked the university’s first use of mocap on a fully animated project, although the technology is often tapped for Filmakademie’s live action work. “For ‘Wall of Death,’ our OptiTrack cameras and Motive software helped us take our virtual characters to a whole new level,” shared Hesham. “The agnostic nature of OptiTrack technology made it straightforward to integrate with Unreal; we could easily create nearly any kind of rigid body and it would withstand the rigorous movements of the actors as they played the instruments.”

For “Wall of Death” shooting markers were placed on performers portraying the band and crowd, as well as the guitars, bass and drum kit. Mahmoud Hesham developed a custom app for the Google Tango Project to stream the sensor information through socket connection and process the tracking information from the OptiTrack cameras. That data was then sent to Autodesk Maya and MotionBuilder, as well as Unreal. This workflow helped the team build the music video in Unreal with a virtual camera that could be moved in and around the scene. Additional tools used on the project include: Substance Painter for texturing, Blender for UV, Autodesk 3ds Max and Cinema 4D for prop modeling, Houdini for smoke simulations, and Foundry Nuke and Adobe After Effects for compositing.

The final music video can be viewed here:


Modeling Bugs: Martin Kögel
Modeling Instruments: Steffen Oberle
Modeling Stage: Toufik Abdedaimn
Modeling Meteor: Nadine Schwenk
Modeling Assets: Enzio Probst

Rigging: Mariia Prokopenko, Lisa Ecker
Additional Rigging work: Julian Oberbeck
Additional Rigging work: Mahmoud Hesham

Texturing: Elias Kremer

Boobs Simulation: Nikolai Maderthoner

3D FX: David Bellenbaum

2D FX: Felix Zehender

Set Construction: Dominik Schön
Shading & Lighting: Dominik Schön, Enzio Probst
Technical Support: Julian Oberbeck, Dominik Schön
3D Camera & Rendering: Helge Forler, Felix Zehender

Mariia Prokopenko
Nadine Schwenk
Stefan Ostermayer
Jonas Forler
Tim Degen
Julie Böhm
Helge Forler