Revelator director Deepak Chetty is one of the most knowledgable experts in the immersive media and VR technology field. Not only is he a talented creative, he’s also a lecturer on the developing technology of immersive media at The University of Texas. Specifically, as a lecturer in the Motion Capture Studio class within the Radio, Television, and Film program at UT. The course allows Deepak the opportunity to help students research and explore ways to fully generate digital performances. These performances come from real, live action performers wearing performance tracking suits. The performances are then tracked, and the raw motion capture files are transformed into creative and interruptive works of art.
This is where Deepak’s new project comes into play, a music and dance-based piece, titled “Invention in Three Parts: Development 2.” It’s a motion capture and visualization short film, directed by Chetty with dance choreography by Dorothy O’Shea Overbey, an Assistant Professor of Practice in Dance, at the University of Texas. The choreography was based around an original score by Nathan Felix. Deepak created the layout, lighting, camera, and realtime render in Unreal Engine.
Due to Unreal Engine 4’s capacity for real time playback and render, there’s the ability to create lyrical and unexpected pieces, which lead to this collaboration between Chetty and Overbey. For Chetty, the ease of use in the program allows him and his students more flexibility and the ability to be more creative with the final outcome.
For that reason, Unreal Engine recently created a profile piece about Deepak and his groundbreaking academic-based approach to project. The in-depth feature explores his research and motivation for the work with the University of Texas, highlighting his innovative Motion Capture Studio class.
First came the motion tests. All footage was derived directly from the raw motion capture takes, with layout, lighting, camera and realtime render all done in Unreal Engine. No smoothing or filters were applied, the end result is comprised of layered capture footage. The final result was a multidisciplinary piece created with the UT Department of Dance, that combined live dance performance, motion capture and immersive virtual reality.
The flexibility of the platform heightened the choreography, and allows dancers in this virtual space to appear and disappear, disintegrate and become whole again. For Chetty, this is what makes Unreal Engine a valuable part of his process, the ability to bring to life whatever comes to his imagination. This is the mission statement of his class, and the value he hopes to impart to his students.
In his own words, “The Motion Capture Studio class in particular, I hope, will open up many avenues for creativity that would be limited or frankly impossible with live-action production at a student level. The idea that they could create an action-packed short without safety and cost issues, or visually elaborate art pieces without material costs or logistics and space needs makes UE4 invaluable as a creative tool of storytelling, expression, and artistic discovery at an educational level and beyond.”
Thanks to Unreal Engine for the great interview, and as always, we can’t wait to share what exciting new worlds Deepak will take us to next!