Lazy Man's Matrix
April 28, 2006 1:45 PM   Subscribe

3dFilter: I'm interested in making a short 3d animation of a Martial Arts form (or kata). Not really sure how I'd do this.

I want to make a present for someone. It's a Tae Kwon Do form, the length would probably be around 2 minutes.

I've looked around google and yahoo for other AskMe threads, and found things close, but not quite what I'm looking for.
I know my options range from making a 3d engine from scratch and doing something like skeleton animation, etc. Through to full on machinima.

I need to be able to show things like hands and feet rotating and in various positions.

Any thoughts?
posted by slactoid to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Best answer: Sounds like a good use for Poser.

I haven't used it in years, but I know you used to be able to do exactly what you're describing. You get a model which is essentially a mannequin, and it moves in realistic ways at the joints, and you can make an animation out of it.

I didn't pay for the version I had, if you get my drift.
posted by Hildago at 1:50 PM on April 28, 2006

Response by poster: I've use Poser before, and really enjoyed it. I didn't know that it was able to animate!
posted by slactoid at 1:51 PM on April 28, 2006

Response by poster: I just spent some time on that Poser site. Very cool stuff, I might need to buy a book, thanks for the info.
posted by slactoid at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2006

I looked at how to solve this problem a few years back. Here's one thing to try:

- Take two video camera, put them perpendicular to each other.

- Place the performer against a contrasty background. Put LEDs on each joint, along the spine, head, etc etc.

- Use adobe aftereffects, or some similar program to track the LEDs in 2d.

- Export the animation curves. Take the X values from one, the Z values from the other, and average the Ys.

- Wrangle that into your favorite animation setup.

- OR use it as a basis to animate a rig by hand (probably a better idea.)

- This is not the lazy way to do it, but food for thought.
posted by milinar at 3:48 PM on April 28, 2006

It sounds like you want to build a (or take a pre-existing) 3d model, animate it, and render it. You need a robust 3D animation package. I use Maya, they have a free version you can try:

Maya PLE

There are a ton of 3D apps that would work for you.

Here's the bad news - expect a steep, challenging learning curve to learn the software and output a two-minute animation. Give yourself several months if you want to render something that looks nice and accurately represents your TKD form.

As an expample, here's a short animation I did, took about 8 months working on it part-time at night:

Dunes of Destiny on

Good luck to you.
posted by shino-boy at 3:52 PM on April 28, 2006

Poser is definitely the right answer. It's easy to animate with it, and its easy to control the position and poses of the figures.

In something like Maya, changing the shape of the human figure is dreadfully hard. In Poser if you want to raise the model's arm, you turn a dial with your mouse.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:23 PM on April 28, 2006

Poser indeed. Fun program. I remember when I was really into all the MetaCreations software, which included Poser at one point.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2006

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