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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Using Drones to Simplify Film Animation

Recording video through commercial drones.

Actors movements can be easily recorded using commercial drones, which greatly reduces the technical effort required for animated film.

Credit: Tobias Ngeli/ETH Zurich

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands are using drones to streamline the production of realistic animated figures.

Traditional motion capture requires either installing numerous cameras in different places, of which only a few can be used simultaneously, or other complex arrangements.

The researchers utilized two commercially available drones and a laptop, with the drones following a performer's movements and adjusting their position so the target is always shot from two angles; the system predicts these movements in real time, then calculates where the drones need to fly so the performer remains in the frame.

The performer wears infrared diode markers that the drones pick up with true light filters to simplify data processing.

Said ETH Zurich's Tobias Nageli, "What makes our system so unique is that it can also reliably capture sudden and fast movements."

From ETH Zurich
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