Real Time vs. Blind Capture
With the success of Avatar, the world has seen more of the technology behind motion capture. Most people out there (especially those in the biz) are now familiar with Real Time motion capture. It was a key part of the Avatar production process. However, when doing motion capture some say Real Time is just hype.
When Robert Zemeckis captures movies like “Christmas Carol” or “Mars Needs Moms” he prefers to use Blind Cap (regular capture without Real Time). Having worked on numerous game and movie projects, I see a need for both. It really comes down to the project and the people involved.
For video games where time and budget are limited, I would lean toward the Zemeckis camp and choose Blind Cap. However, for films where there is usually more time, money, and newbies to the motion capture world, Real Time is the way to go.
An important element is the integration of the Virtual Camera. Most productions I’ve been on (except Avatar) usually saved the Virtual Camera for the post process. In fact, it was Cameron who pioneered the Virtual Camera and made it a part of the capture process. Though most of the actual camera shots were done after the fact, it was a valuable tool in blocking and lining up the shots, which saved time in post. The downside is it usually digs into your capture time since a lot of time is spent looking through the camera, and exploring the virtual environments.
For shoots with a restricted budget I suggest a scouting day. The Director and Staff can use this time to take a virtual tour of the environment prior to the shoot. For the actual shoot go blind (or almost blind) and have one available if you need to reference it, but only then. This keeps actor fees and studio costs to a minimum. It also gives the director some playtime in the virtual world while performers and key crew are on the clock.
Ultimately, each project should be considered independently. After all the factors are weighed in, then the decision to go Real Time or Blind Cap can be determined. If not, you could end up paying a very high price to play with cool technology.